Vegetarian and gluten-free dishes offered on popular concert venue’s restaurant week menu

As Restaurant Week winds down, we took the opportunity to head over to The Grill at Iron City to enjoy our final dinner of this marathon week of eating. Locals love attending concerts at Iron City, but not many think about its attached restaurant and bar. It’s the perfect place to grab dinner before a show. There’s also often live music within the restaurant, so you can pregame your concert with more music!

The $30 three-course dinner included a choice between four appetizers, four entrees, and three desserts, which was easily one of the largest selections from any restaurant we visited. Another great thing about the menu, many of the dishes were vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. For diners with dietary restrictions, this would be a great option!

For our appetizers, we opted for the Buffalo Cauliflower Bites and Garlic Shrimp Dip. Both were an easy choice, since Tara is obsessed with anything drenched in Buffalo sauce (and served with ranch) and Julia is a sucker for all things cream cheese–a major element of the shrimp dip.

The Buffalo Cauliflower Bites were gluten free and vegetarian, but had all the satisfaction of real buffalo wings. Because they were breaded in fine rice flour, the breading stuck well to the cauliflower and didn’t get soggy or fall off. The bites were crunchy on the outside, but tender on the inside, and the Buffalo sauce was the perfect blend of hot sauce and butter. The fact that they were covered in blue cheese crumbles and served with buttermilk garlic ranch dressing made them even more addictive. The portion was so big, we had enough to snack on throughout our meal and still had a few left at the end of the night.

As mentioned, the Garlic Shrimp Dip was made with a base of cream cheese, plus mozzarella, Parmesean, chopped garlic shrimp, and fresh herbs. The addition of lemon brightened the dip and made it feel appropriate for summer. It transported us from the downtown streets of Birmingham to an oceanfront restaurant on the Gulf. It was served with soft, still-warm pita bread for dipping.

After all the heavy eating we did throughout the week, we were appreciative of the lighter entree options The Grill offered. We decided on the Blackened Gulf Coast Fish Filet, which was red snapper the night we went, as well as the Alabama Grown Tomatoes and Field Peas. Both dishes were gluten-free and the second also was vegan.

The tomato salad was sufficiently filling for being a vegetarian dish and so packed with flavor, you didn’t miss the meat, even for carnivores like us. It included a field pea relish, colorful heirloom tomatoes, arugula, and sweet corn, all tossed in a smoky tomato vinaigrette. The creaminess of the vinaigrette was surprising, but kept the salad from feeling too light for dinner. Coupled with the protein-packed field peas and peppery arugula, the salad was overall a well-rounded dish.  

We were excited to try the fish because it was served on a bed of zoodles–zucchini noodles, for those who don’t know. Ever since spaghetti squash hit it big, people have been making “noodles” from all types of vegetables. This one, in particular, was one of the best we’ve had. They struck the ideal balance between being cooked enough that they were tender, but still retained an al dente texture. They were tossed in a lemon caper sauce, with blistered heirloom tomatoes, and served with a salty blackened red snapper filet. The fish was flaky and the seasoned crust had a bit of spice.

For dessert, Tara really wanted both the creme brulee and the icecream trio, but ultimately had to let go of her creme brulee dreams, since Julia wouldn’t give up the cheesecake and it’s hard to say no to ice cream. The featured cheesecake was mocha brownie, merging two of Julia’s favorite things: chocolate and cream cheese. The generous slice swapped a traditional graham cracker crust for a rich brownie. The filling had a light mocha flavor, and the whole thing was topped with a giant dollop of fresh whipped cream.

The ice cream trio featured three different homemade scoops: Tres Leches, Buttermilk Blueberry, and Chilton County Peach. A caramel drizzle over the top brought all three flavors together for the perfect summer dessert. The peach ice cream had chunks of fresh peaches and the Tres Leches had vanilla wafers, so there was some texture in the otherwise sinfully creamy ice cream. We were so excited for it, we forgot to take a picture, so you’ll just have to go order it and see for yourself!

We were thoroughly impressed by this under-the-radar restaurant and are looking forward to adding it to our regular lunch and dinner rotations. Also, it’s a day later and we’re still thinking about those Buffalo Cauliflower Bites. 

–By Julia Sayers & Tara Massouleh

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