After thinking about Primeaux for a while -- and if you taste their cheese plate, you'll be thinking about it too -- I've come to the realization that it wasn't what I was expecting. They're located out at the Summit, but aren't in a ridiculously large space. Both their food and wine are top-notch, but none of it is pretentious.
Considering the people involved, I shouldn't be too surprised. Full disclosure: Chef Cory Bolton, his wife (!!!) Ashley AKA Primeaux's pastry chef, Sous Chef Grayson Taft, and Front of House Manager Melissa Pickering, all worked with my husband at Ocean. They're friends, and they know their shit, so it's not too surprising that my friend Taylor and I had a fantastic meal.
To start the meal, I ordered the budget-friendly rosé. With summer still in full swing, rosé is one of my favorite ways to cool down. It was dry with a nice bit of acid and a mineral-rich finish, which you may have guessed is what I like in wine. After a bit, Melissa replaced that with a glass of the Domaine Gueneau Sancerre Rosé which was exactly what I wanted but didn't know I wanted. Trust your servers, bartenders, and industry friends, y'all.
The apps came next. I started out with the charcuterie and cheese board, while Taylor chose the crabmeat cheesecake.* For the Restaurant Week version, they scaled it down to be closer to a single portion. Cured meat and cheese are two of my very favorite things, and the speck (a type of prosciutto) and salami were on point. Then there was the cheese. Oh my goodness, the cheese.
The cheese board itself included tastes of D'Affinois and a slightly firmer cheese, but Cory also let us taste the sottocenere di tartufo, a soft cheese made from raw cow's milk that had pieces of black truffle. Ridiculously good. I was enjoying the food enough that I forgot to take the photo until after a couple pieces had been eaten. Oops!
Taylor's appetizer was a riff on a crab cake. Instead of adding new ingredients to simple crab cakes, the crabmeat was worked into a rich, savory cheesecake with a pecan crust. It was rich, but the crabmeat was tender without being rubbery. It was also so good that both of us were discussing the likelihood of the existence of an entrée-sized version of the dish.
We'd both ordered the Cubano as our main course. Like the cheesecake, it's also a riff on a classic dish. It's pretty much cheese, housemade pickles, and spicy mustard with as much meat as can be physically stuffed into a sandwich, but it's done intentionally, and it shows. This sandwich is not a traditional Cuban sandwich, nor is it meant to be, but it hits all the notes of what you want a sandwich to be.
To finish, we had two desserts. The lemon icebox pie isn't on their Restaurant Week menu, but the well-spiced crust set off the tart and sweet filling just right. To be honest, I barely touched the pie because I was too busy contemplating and devouring the bourbon cherry dark chocolate tiramisu. At many other places, desserts flavored with bourbon use it very subtly. This dessert is bourbon-forward, with the tangy whole cherries and dark chocolate flavors filling out the flavor of the light, fluffy cake and rich filling.
With great food, better friends, and an excellent wine selection, I'll be back for more. Who wouldn't?
*These appetizers are available at both lunch and dinner. The Cubano is part of the lunch menu, not the dinner menu, and the desserts are only on the dinner menu.
Check out the Birmingham Restaurant Week website and James Martin's blog The Sipologist for more Restaurant Week coverage.