Alabama Restaurant Week is one of my favorite events of the year. I do my research and find great-sounding places that I want to try for the first time. When I spotted Tom Brown's Restaurant and saw that the restaurant mentioned seafood flown in each week from Hawaii, I was hooked (just like the fish I was soon to eat) and made my reservation.
When the GPS said, "Your destination is ahead on the right," I realized we were going to the former location of Pie in the Sky at The Shoppes of Madison, near Target and directly across Highway 72 from Clift Farms. But, once inside, not a single thing looked like what I had seen in the location previously.
The decor is truly stunning -- especially for someone like me who LOVES chandeliers and captivating, local art. And what could be better than sitting down in a tufted, velvet chair? Oh my. I learned during dinner that Tom Brown's wife Ashley has a background in graphic design. It was her vision that came to life inside and out, and Tom himself built many of the paneled partitions and custom woodwork pieces. Since he is also the owner and chief chef, I'd say that makes him a multi-talented member of the family, as well. Their daughter Kenzie Johnston contributed the unique artwork on the walls, as well as the receipt holders and coasters. According to Ashley, they did everything themselves, except for hanging the drywall, replacing the air conditioner vents and putting down the flooring. She personally hung all of the chandeliers and did the gold-edging on the paneling. Truly a labor of passion and love.
The Browns came to Madison from Meridian, Mississippi less than a year ago, where they had renovated a Victorian house and made it into a successful restaurant called D T Grinders. But, during a visit through North Alabama, they spotted Madison, recognized the potential and the atmosphere of excitement and growth and decided to relocate. They threw themselves completely into the project and had everything ready to go . . . then the world shutdown. Can you imagine all of the emotions they must have experienced? While they waited it out, they poured excess energy into working in their yard at home. I bet it's a showplace. :)
But, just think about the courage it took to open a very high-end restaurant on June 1, 2020. To my very tentative and conservative brain, that is startling. Yet, their skills, previous experience, commitment and belief that they had a winning concept is paying off, and folks are flocking to Tom Brown's Restaurant. The Browns describe it as "premium casual and comfortable."
We went specifically for seafood. Steve ordered the seared redfish with mashed sweet potatoes topped with toasted marshmallows, and I had ono (also known as Hawaiian Wahoo) and a stuffed potato. Both were wonderful. And, the housemade rolls we enjoyed while we were waiting were the perfect prelude.
A TOMahawk steak is also a menu standout and consists of a 38-ounce steak that is 20-inches long. Take a big appetite and give it a try.
Tables were placed in a socially-distanced arrangement, all servers and staff members wore masks, no condiments were on the tables, hand sanitizer was readily available, menus were disposable, and there was plenty of outside seating available. It felt very safe. As a side note, Steve was happy that no cold air vents were blowing on him (one of his pet peeves), and the music was at a pleasant level.
To see more of daughter Kenzie's art, visit Studio 301 inside Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment or her website here.