Over the holiday season I reached a milestone, at least I saw it that way. On Christmas Eve, I turned 30 years old. That is still hard for me to admit but, 30 is the new 20, right? Leaving my twenties behind was bittersweet, mostly bitter, but this made for the perfect excuse to celebrate big. I wanted only a few things: to wear: a sexy, yet mature cocktail dress with extra high heels, to have a fine dining experience with my best friends, all while enjoying an expensive glass of wine. I figured 30-year-olds don’t dance on table tops—not that I ever did that.
Unfortunately, majority of my plans fell through: my dress ended up being a faded little black taken from the back of my closet, my high heels didn’t make it out the door, and several friends canceled.
The night would have been a tad of a disappointment had my dining experience not been as superb as it was. My party and I traveled the short trip to downtown Birmingham and decided to dine at a well-known restaurant, 26. The irony of the restaurant’s name didn’t hit until later. According to their website the owners, who are brothers, were both born on the 26th exactly 2 years and 6 months apart. Fortunately for me, this wasn’t a place that only served 26 year olds. It had a trendy, chic vibe with mature, modern design and artworthy fixtures. My eyes went straight to the illuminated bar. Bright blue LED lights backlit the liquor shelving while tiny sparkles of gold shown from the bar top. The inverse level of energy was quite appealing as the space seamlessly transitioned into a calmer atmosphere offering dimmer lighting and a comfortable setting. I must admit, the ambiance made me feel a little more confident in my new age. As if I had graduated to a newer, more sophisticated status, or it could have of been that we were the youngest people there.
I was quickly brought back to reality when the hostess acted incredibly inconvenienced after we told her we had a party of 9. While a table was prepared, we were asked to enjoy the bar. Here, we perused the wine list and cocktail menu. The energy that the bar was giving off put me in the mood for a nice mixed beverage instead of the expensive wine I had originally planned. The bartender was very accommodating answering all of my questions with patience and even allowing me to try a few things before placing my order. The waiter on the other hand seemed to have drunk from the same water as the hostess. All evening I felt the waiter was incessantly annoyed. Perhaps, it had been a long hard day for them.
We were seated along the wall in a comfortable booth accompanied with large fluffy pillows. This was probably the most comfortable I have been while dinning out. The menu was perfectly planned to please any palate offering seafood, steak, and even a hamburger. Since I had spent the last four hours primping for the evening, it didn’t take me long to decide that I wanted the burger! What can I say, I wanted something fast and fatty—not quite the fine dining experience I was going for.
It was a short wait in between ordering and receiving our meals. Seated in front of me was somewhat of a masterpiece. Every layer of the burger was visible. In between a brioche bun was American cheese melted over aged Angus beef and bacon, with sweet red onions, crisp romaine lettuce and a garlic aioli sauce. The juices and savory aroma escaped as I cut the enormous burger in half, revealing a perfectly cooked patty! This was indeed a Kodak moment. If you eat regularly with a “foodie” then you understand the rule of “picture then eat.” I played it a little different having a picture taken as I took a bite. The first bite nearly brought tears to my eyes. The high-quality fat from the Angus meat made all the difference. What a Heavenly hamburger.
Half way into the burger my little black dress was feeling extra little and I had to opt for a to-go box. The food completely canceled out the ill service from some of the staff. The rest of the party had no complaints and most cleaned their plate. The ticket price of $12 was very reasonable considering I entered Heaven for a moment. If you are in the Birmingham Five-Point’s area I highly recommend 26.
26 is located at 1210 20th Street South in downtown Birmingham. Hours of operation vary; reservations accepted Monday through Saturday evening.
Cindy Huggins, RDN, LD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and local “foodie”. Follow her on Twitter @DietitianCindy

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