Helen, Birmingham, 3/15/23

exterior – 2013 2nd Ave., N. Birmingham, AL, 35203

Helen is a contemporary Southern grill under the helm of Chef Rob McDaniel and his wife Emily.  Helen was Rob’s grandmother who cooked on an indoor grill.  The large restaurant is in downtown Birmingham in a 2-story 1920s shotgun-style building.  Opening in the summer of 2020 they serve diners downstairs with upstairs having private party rooms or it can seat diners as needed.  Small bare wood tables sit opposite a wood bench with movable pillow backs.  Some larger tables accommodate bigger groups.  Windows look out to the street, a small bar has chairs for waiting, pictures are on the walls, valet parking is available out front and a long open kitchen is in the back.  The noise level was acceptable but the service could border on pushy.  The food was good but once again we encounter “the small table and lots of plates at one time” issue.


Sign outside
Frankie shared the restaurant’s details
Helen’s recipes
interior (from street end)
interior (from back end)
bathroom floor
wine list 1
wine list 2



Day Boat Gulf White Fish crudo was mixed with mandarinquat kosho, frisée and cilantro. Tonight the fish was snapper and gag grouper.  The kumquat was diced which made it easier to eat with the fish.  Some of the pieces were fairly large and needed to be cut but overall it was a tart and refreshing dish with a good balance of flavors.

Day Boat Gulf White Fish crudo



The 22oz 45-day dry-aged Kansas City Strip was bone-in and according to the server, prime grade.  It came pre-sliced and was cooked as ordered, rare, but it was not especially tender.  It did have a good beefy flavor, probably due to the aging, though.  The main problem with the dish was the super dull steak knives.  A good sharp knife is a must if you want to serve steak.

22oz 45-day dry-aged Kansas City Strip

Cast iron rapini and yu choy sum were tossed with Poirier’s cane syrup, garlic chili crunch, biscuit amino and benne seeds.  The greens were tender, fresh and nicely cooked.  Seasoned with lots of garlic/chili oil made them quite tasty.

Cast iron rapini and yu choy sum

Braised button mushrooms were in barrel-aged Worcestershire, parsley, garlic and shallots.  These were swimming in the broth and I’d call them good but mostly dull.  They needed the sauce for seasoning but I would have preferred them cooked to a more concentrated flavor.

Braised button mushrooms

Yukon Gold potatoes were dotted with sea salt and came with a dill and creme fraiche dip.  These seemed to be smashed once cooked and then dropped in a fryer with the skins on.  They were delicious with or without the nice dill-flavored dip.  What’s not to like about a tender potato on the inside with a crisp exterior?  I’d order these again.

Yukon Gold potatoes
dill sauce


Warm banana pudding was mixed with Pecan Sandy cookies and vanilla custard then topped with meringue.  Talk about ending on a high note, this was it.  The warm pudding was filled with bits of cookie, fresh banana slices and delicious vanilla custard then topped with a marshmallow-like meringue.  Totally wonderful and yummy.  The flavor was incredible as were the textures and sweet factor.  Yum x3.

Warm banana pudding
Frankie napped on the hand towels

4 thoughts on “Helen, Birmingham, 3/15/23

  1. I’ve only had warm banana pudding at one other place — Bum’s in Ayden NC. It was delicious, and that looks astounding! The steak looks perfectly cooked, and I’m a huge fan of the twice-cooked/smashed potatoes.
    It’s great ot hear about restaurants in Birmingham that I haven’t tried.

    1. Thanks! The steak was good but make sure they give you an adequate knife. The potatoes were terrific but the warm banana pudding was the star. What a difference it made to have it warm.

Leave a Reply