Dumbwaiter was a smart move for Wes Lambert and his wife, Dana, who together opened the Downtown restaurant in March. The intimate eatery quickly became one of the Port City’s culinary hot spots. Housed in a historic building on Bienville Square, Dumbwaiter has a fun, slightly funky, retro feel stemming partially from the memorable moniker. “A dumbwaiter was used 100 years ago to move food around and was a very important invention for kitchens. We are in a building built in the 1890s, and I wanted a catchy name, ” Wes Lambert says.
A renovation showcases the original brick walls and ceiling joists, and much of the decor is fashioned from reclaimed wood found at a local mill. Lambert describes the fare, dished up by Chef Chris McElhaney, as “traditional Southern with a slight flair.” McElhaney’s culinary résumé includes working for Emeril Lagasse at Emeril’s Delmonico in New Orleans and opening Fire Restaurant at Wind Creek Casino in Atmore.
Shrimp and grits, the Alabama Benedict (served over a biscuit) and the beloved Brussels sprouts (perchance owing to the addition of bacon confit) make up the menu’s staple items. “Our goal was to bring back ‘Old Mobile’ in cuisine, decor and ambience, ” Lambert says.
Desserts are a forte, including burnt sugar pound cake with ice cream and a caramel sauce (above), chocolate butter cake, rustic lemon tart, chocolate cherry bread pudding, chocolate butter cake and blueberry cream pie in a jar. There is also an extensive wine list, with several nice picks served by the glass, as well as six to eight craft beers on tap and an equal assortment by the bottle.
On the Menu
Chips and Dip
Sizable, extra-crispy, house-made potato chips are served with a fresh-flavored, creamy onion dip. Listed as a side dish, try them as a bargain starter.
Yellow heirloom tomato wedges and plump, pan-seared scallops are drizzled with sweet balsamic reduction and fresh, emerald-hued pesto crowned with a scattering of tender baby sprouts.
A duo of tender tournedos in a mushroom-laden demi-glace is capped with crumbled blue cheese, a couple of fat, sautéed onion rings and grilled asparagus.
Burnt Sugar Pound Cake
Delectable pound cake is drizzled with a bourbon and caramel sauce and served alongside bourbon-laced ice cream. A sprinkle of chopped pecans tops off the sumptuous dessert.
Dumbwaiter Restaurant • 167 Dauphin St. 445-3802. Hours: Tues. – Fri., Lunch 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.,
Dinner 5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.; Sa, 4 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
text by Sallye Irvine • photo by Blair Abraham