Owner Tomek Wrzesien set out to create his own gallery in the renovated office space that now houses Urban Standard, but he soon drew inspiration from the café culture of his native Poland and instead met the neighborhood's need for eclectic deli fare, freshly baked goods, and boutique beverages. Breakfast offers a variety of old-world eats in addition to down-home staples such as creamy grits with sausage and cheese ($3). Share a stylish luncheon of salads, sandwiches, or grilled paninis with fancy-pants ingredients such as truffle oil, balsamic jam, and homemade pimento cheese. Carnivores can sink canines into Tomek's Polish Street Sandwich, a cavalcade of cured meats and cheese on ciabatta (half $5.50, whole $8.75), whereas vegetarians can rustle up a grilled marinated-tofu sandwich ($7.50) with a small roasted-fennel and goat-cheese salad ($4.50). If a whole meal seems too daunting, sophisticated snackers can adjust their pince-nez while sampling from a list of baked goods that would make Marie Antoinette blush.
Local meats, fresh veggies, and imported spices enhance the traditional Thai and Japanese food at Surin of Thailand. Chefs manipulate yellow, red, and green curry dishes with splashes of coconut milk, citrus juice, or peanuts, and they marinate select meats overnight before slow-roasting them until they’re tender enough to fall apart when looked at. To ensure a sushi menu that’s just as authentic as the Thai dishes, many of the restaurant’s chefs train in Japan under the tutelage of sushi masters. The result is a menu of more than 20 varieties of sushi and nigiri, many of which feature pan-Asian flourishes such as plum sauce and drizzles of panang curry.
The chefs at Matthew's Bar & Grill fire up a sizzling menu of barbecue classics served in an energy-filled sports bar. Diners can swap crispy appetizers to head off the meal, whether tearing into fried butterfly shrimp ($8) or heating up gums with breaded jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese ($7). Similarly, sauces—from hot barbecue to tangy lemon-pepper—douse flocks of chicken wings to paint a gustatory rainbow when shared between dual or quadruple orders ($6.60–$10). As pulled barbecue sandwiches ($7) and barbecue plates ($11) emerge, smoky aromas spark palate salivation like a Fourth of July cookout at Pavlov's laboratory. Grilled chicken slathered in barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese crown crunchy nachos ($11), and sides, such as sweet-potato fries ($3–$5) and onion rings ($3–$5), score Tetris wins in near-full bellies.
Offering more than 30 healthy handheld eats prepared with super-fresh produce and high-quality ingredients, Roly Poly’s menu has something to fit any discerning taste. Lunch on tongue-torpedoing sandwiches rolled in tortillas, hot-pressed panini-like sandwiches, soups, and fresh salads. Sandwiches, such as a cold Cobb chicken salad roll, chicken Caesar roll, or hot-pressed hickory chicken, are served in 6” or 12” varieties (usually $3.75/$5.95). The hot-pressed French Twist with melted brie and swiss cheese, mushrooms, tomato, spinach, and scallions ($3.50/$5.50) soothes any veggie lover's grumbling food sack.
Chef Levi and Chef Joannetta rely on a combined 50 years of experience to whip local ingredients into catered and buffet-style meals in Asian Pacific, European, kosher, diabetic, and vegetarian cuisines. During lunch and dinner buffets, guests hush tummy rumblings with entrees from one of seven international categories. Buffets overflow with heaping portions of crusted brown-sugar ham, fruit blintzes, candied yams, and Ethiopian delicacies as hungry guests line up to refill empty purses. Alternatively, during catered breakfasts, guests munch on a choice of 25 or 50 morning staples, filling bellies with hot items such as omelets and fried chicken with waffles, pastries such as scones and sweet rolls, and energizing brews such as coffee and juice. Guests opting for baked sweet treats receive 12 small sweet potato pies baked from scratch and ready to launch at the faces of miniature clowns.
Jumpstart dinner with an order of Mrs. Lovett's meat pies, pastry rounds packed with onion, rosemary, and minced roast beef ($4.25). Traditionalists sup on hearty plates such as bangers and mash (roasted sausage stacked atop mashed potatoes and smothered with red-wine gravy and onions, $11.50) or boxtey (potato balls mixed with Dubliner cheese and Black Forest ham, $10.50). Vegetarians can opt for the banshee, a grilled portabella cap topped with cheddar and served on a yeast bun with chips ($9.75). Guzzle a chocolate Guinness milkshake ($6.50) for dessert.
Though admission to the Birmingham Museum of Art's permanent collection is always free, admission to special blockbuster exhibitions may not be. Membership includes one free pass to any ticketed exhibition (family membership includes two passes), special rates on museum classes, invitations to members-only special events, discounts in the museum store, and a slew of other art-enhancing benefits.