2240 Highland Ave. South, Birmingham
A Frank Stitt restaurant serving a bad dish is like Justin Timberlake releasing a subpar single: It just rarely happens. Keeping this in mind, a friend and I recently made our way to Stitt’s Bottega Cafe in Birmingham.
We were the earlybirds on a Saturday night — we got there around 5:15, and just a few tables were occupied. We got our app — homemade potato chips and charred onion dip — about 10 minutes after ordering. The chips were crispy and delicious and addicting. I could have easily eaten them all day. And the onion dip was stellar. A bit of a tang and creamy goodness.
But I wasn’t at Bottega Cafe for the apps — I was there for the mac and cheese. More importantly, the mac and cheese and small salad, which the restaurant offers for $12. Right as we were finishing the app — perfect timing! — the entrees came out.
If mac and cheese dishes were pieces of art (and really, they should be, but that’s another story, another day), then this mac and cheese would be the Mona Lisa. Or the Sistine Chapel. Or anything breathtaking, really. It almost looks too perfect to eat. Almost.
The mac and cheese was a bit too hot (a problem I don’t mind to have) when it arrived, so I snacked on the salad a bit. It was fresh and tasty. But once again, I wasn’t there for the salad. I was there for the mac.
And oh my goodness. You know when you have a long week and just need a drink (and maybe a slice or three of pizza)? And when you take the first sip of the drink, everything bad about the week seems to go away?
Well, that’s what the first bite of this mac and cheese is like. It probably has healing powers. (Definitely tell your Facebook friends who are into essential oils.) It’s creamy and baked to perfection and tastes as good as it looks. Another added perk: It doesn’t taste as heavy as most of the other mac and cheeses I’ve tried — it could be because of the side salad, or magical powers — so there’s no food coma afterward.
The serving size was so large that I had leftovers, so I had it boxed up and took it (and the salad) home. Another another miracle happened: the leftover mac and cheese was even better, if possible, and the salad wasn’t wilted. I meant to save some of the leftovers to share, but I ate it all with zero shame. Sharing is caring unless it involves mac and cheese, kids — then sharing is insane.
Should you try the mac and cheese? Yes, duh
Rating: 9 out of 10