Dining Review: Winning Adachi offers Japanese-inspired fare
The Ford-Peabody mansion in the midst of downtown Birmingham is something of a landmark. And now there is a reason to do more than admire its eye-catching ivory and white Victorian exterior as you drive by.
Within the turreted structure is an impressive new restaurant named after an art museum in Japan, offering a menu of Japanese and Japanese-inspired dishes from sashimi and sushi to dry-rubbed prime steak.
Adachi is one of many restaurant concepts by the prolific chef Michael Schlow of Washington, D.C., and it was brought here by local proprietors Kenny Koza and Clint Mansour. In a word, it’s a winner.
Two adjoining first floor dining rooms include a sushi bar and a cocktail bar, as well as tables and small couches in a vibrant blue color scheme with touches of red. A painting behind the sushi bar resembles a tapestry. Suffice it to say that it is all very artistic, in keeping with the beauty of the meticulous fare itself, presented variously on pottery plates, wooden trays and china bowls designed to display each dish to advantage.
In addition to a full menu of sushi and sashimi, typified by ahi tuna, king salmon and diver scallops, the menu offers a choice of small and large plates, as well as a la carte ordering from a list that includes yakitori (skewered meat or seafood), salads and such vegetable dishes as shishito peppers with lime and coarse salt and grilled eggplant with crushed peanuts.
The food isn’t just photogenic. It is also delicious and authentic, from the generous bowls of miso soup to such dishes as duck meatballs, the tender balls paired with udon noodles, scallions and mushrooms, one of the large plates at lunch and highly recommended. The savory little duck meatballs are also served with a spicy glaze and a scattering of green onions.
Other notable dishes include the two-bite sized lobster tacos with yuzu (tart fruit), avocado and tobiko (fish roe), salmon poke and shrimp tempura.
While chopsticks are provided, there is also cutlery.
Desserts are mainstream and include a beautiful version of molten chocolate cake, and one I can’t forget – a beautiful slice of cheesecake, swirled with a subtle design made with green tea powder (matcha). The kitchen is headed by chef Lloyd Roberts, who has extensive experience with the cuisine at both Nobu and Vong restaurants in New York.
Service is knowledgeable, which is essential for a restaurant that serves many dishes that are unfamiliar to a number of guests.
The well-stocked bar includes all the expected liquors as well as several Japanese beverages and it also has a good international wine list.
Note that Adachi has one of the most extensive happy hours in town, from 2 to 5 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
325 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham
Hours: 11 a.m.--10 p.m. Mon.-Wed., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. Bar later. Closed Sun.
Prices: Lunch, individual sushi and sashimi $3-$8, sushi lunch $17, sashimi lunch $23, small plates $6-$12, full plates $14-$28, dinner, sushi and sashimi $4-market price, small plates $6-$18, full plates $18-$55 desserts $8-$10.
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar with some emphasis on sake, wine and Japanese whiskey
Noise level: Moderate
Wheelchair access: No barriers
Parking: Street and nearby deck. Valet parking is in the works.
What the ratings mean
★ — routine ★★ — good ★★ 1/2 — very good
★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding