Christiana Roussel joins us today with the scoop on Birmingham’s newest bar and grill, Paramount.
A friend of mine recalls traveling to Birmingham for business, about a decade ago. Checking into a downtown hotel, he asked the bellhop for the name of a great restaurant within walking distance. Wrinkling his brow, he advised my friend against even leaving the hotel for the night, warning, “There’s nothing worth eating out there!”
Fast forward to present day and your problem now is deciding where to eat in downtown – the choices are practically limitless. New to this burgeoning scene is Paramount, at the corner of 20th Street and 2nd Avenue North. Owned and operated by many of the same guys at nearby El Barrio and Trattoria Centrale, Paramount serves to fill a much-needed niche in the urban dining scene, focusing on happy hour, dinner and late-night socializing.
More than just a sports bar or a pub, Paramount is the kind of place you text your friends to meet you after work. Or the spot to drop a few quarters playing Ms. Pac Man while waiting on a killer burger to arrive. Or the place to enjoy a cocktail (or two) before hitting a show at the Alabama Theater. Or where you’ll watch March Madness basketball with your significant other – knowing the food will be great and the beer will be ice cold. Moreover, it’s the kind of place our city always wanted to have downtown. And now it is here.
Partners Geoff Lockert, Ben Smith, Brian Somershield, Chris Cullen, and Neville Baay divide duties, each settling into a new routine at the restaurant, open just since New Year’s. Classically-trained chefs Somershield and Baay oversee the food side of Paramount producing items such as Alabama Hummus (boiled peanuts, smoked paprika); The Fun Guy (balsamic mushrooms, tomatoes, arugula, garlic mayo and mozzarella); The Bronx Bomber Burger (with soppressata, roasted red pepper, fried egg, salsa verde and provolone) and many more.
When asked why this place, in this space, Lockert notes, “We knew we wanted to do a new restaurant but the thing that really got it going was that this space became available.” Located directly across from Trattoria Centrale and just down the street from El Barrio, Paramount occupies a prime corner location in an historic building. The guys at Appleseed Workshop transformed the inside to reflect the soul of our Iron City in a clean and approachable way. Shop lights on a pulley system lend an industrial feel but provide plenty of atmosphere. They took the name Paramount as it was already prominently displayed on the side of the building, on a gorgeous blue and white marquee. Partner Ben Smith offers, “The name just fits. With a place like this, we could have gone with something kitchy or kind of cheesy but the name is simple with a lot of history. It’s perfect.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Thank you, Christiana!
Christiana Roussel is a freelance food and lifestyle writer in Mountain Brook, AL. Four chickens, three dogs, two children, and one husband take up most of her time. The rest is spent on her blog, ChristianasKitchen.com.