By Sarah Cook McBride
Photos by Kathryn Bell
Where Southern comfort food meets British cuisine, you’ll find The Anvil Pub & Grill. It’s a place where both shrimp and grits and fish and chips live happily on the same menu, along with a roundup of other dishes that are impressively highbrow and down-home at the same time.
Opening on the precipice of the historic COVID-19 shutdown of 2020, The Anvil managed to weather the curbside and take-out storm with grace from their location off Highway 280. Head Chef Sedesh Boodram, who grew up in Trinidad and Tobago and honors his roots through his culinary talents, says the goal of the restaurant is to offer fine-dining food in a casual atmosphere. The Anvil, he says, is meant to be a place for both romantic dates or a spot to take the edge off after a long day at work. Whatever kind of “vibe” patrons wish to channel, they can find it at The Anvil.
“I come from a fine dining background, but I want to keep it casual,” Sedesh says of his approach to the restaurant’s overall atmosphere and culinary style. Trenton Tisdale, the restaurant’s chef de cuisine, and Preston Hooten, beverage director, also bring their own set of skills to the table. Both from Alabama, Trenton and Preston bring diverse and thoughtful approaches to their craft.
And although he may not have a southern accent, Sedesh is no stranger to the Birmingham food scene. Gaining experience under the tutelage of Chef Chris Hastings at Ovenbird and Hot and Hot, Sedesh more than knows his way around the kitchen. Before arriving in Birmingham (his spouse, a Birmingham native, brought him to the Magic City), Sedesh graduated valedictorian of the French Culinary Institute and also studied under an impressive lineup of New York City chefs.
“I see the new wave of the food culture happening here,” Sedesh says of Birmingham. “Everyone is doing something different, and that’s what I initially missed when I moved here from New York.”
After watching Birmingham’s food scene grow with ferocity for some time, Sedesh knew it was time to open a restaurant of his own. Instead of taking to the city’s urban center, however, the chef decided to grace the ‘burbs with his culinary acumen. Located inside The Village at Lee Branch, The Anvil proves you don’t have to make the downtown trek to find exceptional dining.
Offering entrees that spotlight a myriad of cultures, this pub and grill is for the restaurant goer who appreciates diversity. Plenty of dishes, of course, pay respect to Sedesh’s upbringing—like the Steak and Guinness Pie and fish and chips. But Sedesh is quick to point out that British culture is a melting pot of cultures, so there really are no “rules” to the menu. That’s why you’ll also find smoked panang curry chicken wings, pork tikka masala and every southerner’s favorite, shrimp and grits.
“British cuisine can get a bad rap sometimes,” Sedesh says. But, because of its colonial history, British food has the benefit of collecting influences from many other native cooking traditions. This melting pot of cultures, Sedesh says, gives every chef what they desire most in the kitchen—freedom.
Sourcing locally whenever possible, the menu is a celebration of flavor. Serving brunch, lunch, dinner and the occasional high tea (which always sells out, so lock in a reservation), The Anvil is a place that celebrates all flavors and people.
“People think pub and think dark and dreary, but it can be fun and stylish,” he says. “It’s not smoky and dark—more light and airy. I wanted it to attract a diverse crowd as much as possible. It’s perfect for dates (and) for families, and you can dress it up or be casual. It’s approachable.”
Judging by the local response, it’s safe to say that the restaurant’s vision has become reality. Looking to the future, Sedesh says his plan is to continue keeping a pulse on what the locals want—but always offer a few dishes that might encourage newcomers to get adventurous with their order.
“When people ask me what to order, I say that’s like choosing a favorite child,” Sedesh says with a laugh. “It’s all good. They all have a special meaning.”
The Anvil Pub & Grill is located in The Village at Lee Branch off Highway 280 at 611 Doug Baker Blvd., Suite 103. Learn more at theanvilpub.com.
A Taste of The Anvil
Here are a few dishes you’ll find on the menu.
Steak and Guinness Pie
Mushrooms, spring onions and carrots
Fish and Chips
Beer battered cod, chips, mint peas and tartare sauce
Smoked Panang Curry Chicken Wings
Served with cilantro lime aioli
Pork Tikka Masala
Creamy curry sauce, pear raita and Basmati rice
Shrimp and Grits
Country Captain sauce, Alabama gulf shrimp, toasted almonds and McEwen & Sons grits