BirminGRAMS (noun): pictures posted on popular social media platform Instagram of people, places, ideas, and events that fill the life of a Birminghamian.
Birmingham: The South’s best kept secret. Are you in on it or nah?
I recently visited a new restaurant in the Magic City named Sky Castle Gastro Lounge. I saw an Instagram post about it and it seemed like a cool spot in a popular district of the city I love so I immediately checked it out.
Their Instagram photos tell the story of a glass-walled DJ booth for Birmingham’s first Top 40 station in the 1950’s , WSGN, that became known around town as the “sky castle”. Their website further explains that the sky castle sat atop a restaurant named Ed Salem’s Drive-In and all the cool cats drove there after school to grab a bite to eat and listen to the songs of a burgeoning music genre: rock and roll. Now Sky Castle Gastro Lounge sits in that same spot on 7th Avenue South 60 years later and they pay homage to their namesake through their decor, atmosphere, and menu. They have even recreated the original sky castle booth above their entryway.
When I got there I was immediately excited. Food from a local chef, in my favorite city, with a side of history. It spoke to my inner history nerd and wannabe foodie. The bright orange chairs, copper-pipe-lined bar, plasma screens, and soft rock music playing in the background makes you feel like you have one foot in the past and one foot in the present simultaneously. Everyone wears classic jeans with a vintage grey mechanics shirt and my waiter reminded me of Bones from the movie Moms’ Night Out . The salt shakers were pretty cool and futuristic looking too I may add. They manage to rock out the vintage/futuristic theme pretty well; you get facets of a big part of Birmingham’s past while also getting hints of a Jetson’s-esque future. Overall, it is a pretty cool setup.
I looked over the lunch menu to decide what I wanted to order and while I was listening to the music playing overhead I heard the slightly off-key rendition of “I was borrrrn by the river…” coming from the bartender. Then, a little while later, “Just call my name annnd I’ll be theeeere…” begins playing from the kitchen. Even though the music didn’t exactly match the rock and roll theme of the restaurant, it added to the ambiance of the place as a whole.
A few more minutes of questioning and deliberating helped me decide what I wanted to order. I stayed with what I would call a quintessential dish for this type of restaurant: the Sky Castle Burger. I can always go for a classic burger and fries any day, but the tomato jam and “dijonaise” are probably what excited me most about this dish.
My Sky Castle Burger came out looking delicious on what looked like a thick, square graphite block that served as my plate. The french fries were sitting in a ceramic container surrounded by a small rectangular cut of the menu. These little features prove that the staff really cared about the small details that go into creating your overall experience.
My meal was delicious, my waiter was awesome, and the atmosphere was cool. Whenever you’re in the Lakeview district looking for a bite to eat you should definitely try Sky Castle Gastro Lounge. It’s sure to deliver a rad night.