The Essential, Koos Fish Market, True Story Brewing receive A+ food service scores in Feb.

Koos Fish Market
Koos Fish Market and Deli on Center Point Parkway. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

Several Birmingham area restaurants including The Essential in Downtown, Center Point Parkway’s Koos Fish Market and Crestwood’s True Story Brewing received 95 and above on their health inspection scores in February 2021.

As a public service, since 2018, Bham Now has reported monthly Jefferson County Department of Health restaurant scores. In February, over 100 local establishments that handle and serve food were inspected by the health department. These places include: restaurants, schools, nursing homes, daycare centers, hospitals, grocery stores and concession stands.

In this story we feature local restaurants that scored 95 and above.

Where Did We Get the Scores?

Birmingham, Jefferson County Department of Health
Jefferson County Department of Health. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Food service inspection scores are updated regularly on the Jefferson County Department of Health website. The database is easy to access and it goes back several years.We estimate approximately 10-15% of the restaurant inspections score 95 or above, while most local school cafeterias, for example tend to score 95 or above. 

Who made the local restaurant honor roll this month? Here are some notable local establishments: 

The Essential – 97

Birmingham, The Essential, Founder's Station, restaurants, food, cafes, bars, cocktails
Pastries at The Essential. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

February 2021 was a good month for The Essential at Founders Station. The classy three year old restaurant in downtown Birmingham was featured in the Washington Post and they received an A+ from the Jefferson County Department of Health.  My favorite meal? The salmon benedict. One of my favorite entrees whenever I visit Seattle – The Essential matches it. That’s impressive.

Cedar House – 98

Cedar House
Staff of the Cedar House Cafeteria in Tarrant, Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

This is my 3rd year writing about restaurants that score an A+ on their restaurant scores. There is one place that has made the honor roll each and every year — the Cedar House in Tarrant. Located at the “gateway” of the city on Highway 79, Cedar House serves up  traditional southern breakfast in the mornings and southern cuisine for lunch.   It is a great place to get your veggies.  Another bonus: the restaurant is like walking into a history museum, with photos and memorabilia scattered from booth to booth.

True Story Brewing – 100

True Story Brewing Pickle sandwich
The Pickle Sandwich at True Story Brewing. No bread and gluten free! Photo by Pat Byington

If you want to visit the ultimate neighborhood brewery – True Story is the place. Food-wise, I highly recommend True Story’s pickle sandwich. It is the ultimate Birmingham original, and who doesn’t want to walk in a brewery and say – “Hey, bartender! I need an IPA and a pickle sandwich!” 

Additional 95 and above scores:

Godfathers Pizza – 100

American Ranch House – 98

Ensley Seafood – 99

Bayles – 96

Chocolata – 99

Yo Yo Donuts -97

Fultondale Bakery – 100

Hoover Seafood Market – 96

Chocolata
Photo via Chocolata

Visit Jefferson County Department of Health’s Food Service website for the latest scores. These food service inspections are invaluable and help keep us all safe. It is our right to know.

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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