Exquisite land-to-sea fare meets an effortlessly chic dining experience at Automatic Seafood & Oysters — the latest restaurant to join Birmingham’s ever-growing Lakeview District. Acclaimed Chef Adam Evans helms the kitchen, and his wife, interior designer Suzanne Humphries Evans, takes credit for the space’s posh interior. Together, the pair aim to provide the Magic City with a dining experience like none other.
“Suzanne and I are both from Alabama, so we’re thankful for the amazing opportunity to return home after years of gathering inspiration from our own fields, and building our dream restaurant to share with our home state,” Adam says.
Adam, who originally hails from Muscle Shoals, got his kitchen education while serving as the executive chef at Ford Fry’s The Optimist in Atlanta. His restaurant savvy doesn’t end there, however. He’s also worked at renowned restaurants throughout New York City and New Orleans, proving his deft culinary skill along the way. Suzanne has built her own impressive resume in the design world. With stints working for Miles Redd and Ralph Lauren in New York City followed by time spent working at Atlanta-based Suzannne Kasler Interiors, Suzanne’s got an undeniable eye for stylish interiors. Despite the couple’s success across America, returning home to Alabama has always been the goal.
Automatic Seafood & Oysters, named for the Automatic Sprinkler Company that once occupied the historic 1940s warehouse, blends a delightful roster of Adam’s favorite flavors, cultivated from the dishes he’s honed and perfected over years in the restaurant industry. And his culinary acumen shines. From bacon-wrapped monkfish and duck fat poached Gulf swordfish to Alabama crab claws and crispy whole Gulf scorpion fish, the menu brims with some of the best seafood the state offers.
While the menu will be locally focused, Adam says he won’t hold back when it comes to offering seasonal dishes from other coasts. He wants the restaurant to expose diners to a world of flavor, offering dishes that diners won’t find elsewhere in the city.
“I’ll pull from the Gulf as much as possible, being that it’s the closest body of water,” he says. “But Automatic Seafood & Oysters is inspired by all coasts, so I will also include dishes indigenous to the New England region and beyond, to allow guests to experience different techniques and flavors.”
The menu is a testament to that approach. Familiar and crowd-pleasing dishes coexist with adventurous and complex flavors at Automatic, as evidenced by the diverse offerings in the appetizer section alone: Crispy whole Gulf shrimp and down-home yeast rolls served with Eastaboga cultured honey butter are listed alongside octopus a la plancha (served with yogurt, harissa, herb salad and lime) and fluke crude (served with fresh pickled ginger, crispy skin and lime).
“The menus, both food and drink, will change constantly as they are a direct result of what’s available currently from the land and sea,” Adam says. “We’re focused on simple preparations of high-quality ingredients.”
Along with top-notch ingredients and quality service, locals can also expect stylish dining at this new Magic City restaurant. The space mixes classic American luxury with a retro-industrial vibe. From the outdoor patio to cozy nooks that pepper the restaurant, Suzanne pulled out all the stops when designing the overall look of the restaurant. A sleek, black-tiled bar also lines a large portion of the space, allowing guests to cozy up for a more relaxed experience — and perhaps some fresh oysters on the half-shell with a cool glass of wine.
“Whether you’re stopping in for happy hour, having a date night or a large-group gathering, we want everyone to feel welcome here,” Adam says. “We just want to make people happy.”
That simple sentiment, “to make people happy,” is the foundation, really, behind the restaurant — and it’s why Adam got into the culinary field in the first place. An Alabama boy at heart, bringing a restaurant like Automatic to Birmingham has always been a dream for the chef. Now, with that dream becoming a reality, he can only think of one word to describe his story up to this point: lucky.
“I took a job at a restaurant by chance, and as it turns out, I love being in the kitchen,” he says. “I love the whole process. From thinking about products, creating dishes and the immediate impact of providing enjoyment and hospitality using food that some farmer or fisherman somewhere has worked so hard to grow or catch — I feel being a steward of food is a duty I consider [myself] lucky to have. Food is the great connector of people.”
Thank you to Caleb Chancey of Caleb Chancey Photography for these gorgeous pictures. All pictures are by Caleb Chancey unless otherwise noted.
Automatic Seafood & Oysters is located at 2824 5th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233. Hours are Sunday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Valet Parking is always available as is street parking. To learn more or make a reservation, call (205) 580-1600 or visit automaticseafood.com.