Just steps from Pepper Place, home of the city’s thriving Saturday farmers’ market, OvenBird is right at the heart of Birmingham’s food epicenter. It’s the perfect location for a chef who cooks with the seasons and has a knack for branching out with flavors, qualities that Chris and his wife and business partner Idie embody whole-heartedly. When a restaurant can offer both skillet-roasted bone marrow and cast-iron fried chicken on the dinner menu, you know they’ve found the sweet spot where inventive techniques, mindfully sourced ingredients, and a casual atmosphere intersect. Possibly more popular than the dinner menu is the Saturday-only brunch menu. It draws flocks of market-goers and late risers through the doors with the scents of hot biscuits doused in chorizo gravy, rich eggs Benedict with serrano ham, and chicken and waffles topped with sweet and savory sorghum mustard. But for Chris, the best part of his menus are the underlying ingredients that add layers of flavor.
“Everything we do has a seasonal bend to it,” he explains. “We have people who forage ingredients for us in and around Birmingham, so we’ll get wild honeysuckle, mushrooms of all kinds, sassafras root, wild dandelions, watercress, and leafy greens.” And to this outdoorsman at heart, there’s nothing better to harness these natural flavors than a skillet and a fire.