Win a $100 Gift Card to the Famous Highlands Bar and Grill & A Chance to Go To the James Beard Awards in NYC!


Congratulations to Karen, whose partial email address is chiparn! Her comment was chosen using to win this great prize. Special thanks to everyone for entering!

Gratefully, Christy

In the course of my life, when I travel for tv appearances and events hosted by the magazines I’ve worked for, I’ve been treated to several fine dining experiences. While I appreciate the experience and opportunity, “fancy” restaurants almost always leave me lacking – and hungry.

There are a few grand exceptions and one restaurant stands out from them all – Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, Alabama. The big difference in this restaurant versus all of the others? Frank Stitt.

Frank Stitt, the quintessential southern gentleman and an amazing chef

If you’ve ever known anyone who knows Frank Stitt or has met him, you’ve most likely heard them sing his praises. There is a simple reason for that: When folks meet someone as kind, gracious, and talented as he is, they can’t help but talk about them.

But why is the experience at Highlands worth it when so many others are not? In my mind, it is the respect that Mr. Stitt has for his heritage. So many chefs these days have an attitude of embarrassment over Southern food and treat it as if it is something that could not possibly be served unless it was drastically improved upon.

Frank, on the other hand, has a reverence for his heritage and the food of our region. He treats Southern food with respect and care and this clearly shines through in his dishes. Gathering many of the ingredients locally, without overdoing anything or taking unnecessary steps that cover up the flavor of bountiful produce raised within miles of his restaurant, Frank manages to take all the best of Southern food and make it even better, allowing each flavor to shine.

The dishes taste as if they know they are loved. 

My first bite of creamy cheese grits had my eyes rolling back in my head. These were REAL grits, not the kind you get in packets off the grocery store shelf. I’m quite certain the rich butter and fresh cheeses perfectly blended had a precious Southern pedigree, too. My grits were topped with the most perfectly cooked morsels of pork I’ve ever tasted. And I have something to compare them to as well. While filming a tv show last summer in Los Angeles, when some of the best chefs in the country made an identical dish, it didn’t even come close to Frank’s.

In the world of elite chefs, Frank Stitt is an anomaly. His food is upscale, but reverent rather than arrogant. His restaurant is a white tablecloth and low light establishment, but still manages to feel warm and comfortable. He is one of the best chefs in the world, but when folks meet him he goes out of his way to express gratitude to his patrons for allowing him to serve them. Not an ounce of pretension. Just delicious flavors bringing people together and having them leave with smiles and good memories.

Enter For A Chance To Go To The James Beard Awards in New York City!

I was thrilled to hear that Highlands has been nominated in the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards, which take place in New York on May 6th. Together with the James Beard Foundation, Acqua Panna Natural Spring Water will be recognizing the top restaurant in the field. In celebration of this, Acqua Panna is offering a chance for one lucky winner and their guest to attend the awards in New York. To enter, visit their Facebook page (by clicking here) and click “Like”, then follow the instructions to complete the entry. The sweepstakes closes tonight (April 18) so enter quick! You must be 21 or older to enter.

Special thanks to Acqua Panna for filling my glass at many a gathering! 

I love Acqua Panna water and am eternally grateful to their product for being present at so many wine drinking occasions – because while I don’t drink, I’ve found that walking around with a glass of delicious water is a great way to keep from being offered ten thousand glasses of wine by people who are just trying to be gracious!

Since I’m not a drinker, I didn’t know that pairing fine dining water and wine together is a process known as “harmonizing” that many of you may be interested in so I thought I’d share some information about it that Acqua Panna shared with me.

Food and wine interact to impart different taste characteristics through each other, while water is meant to cleanse the palate and enhance the interacting traits of food and wine. Acqua Panna and S.Pellegrino together are known as fine dining waters, found on tables worldwide and in some of the best restaurants.

A light bodied water, Acqua Panna should be paired with soft suave wine with moderate alcohol and food that is lighter in flavor and subtle in aromas. Acqua Panna’s soft balance is perfect with elegant flavors not too rich or structured (such as light pasta sauces, seafood, and white wines).

S.Pellegrino (the water that comes in that cool looking green glass bottle) is meant to be paired with full bodied wines rich in tannins and high in acid so that the two liquids do not compete. Foods heavy in flavor and structure should be paired with water and wine with these characteristics.

Wanna try all of these delicious ideas and foods out for yourself?

One lucky Southern Plate Family Member will win

a $100 gift card to Highlands Bar and Grill,

courtesy of Highlands and Acqua Panna!


To enter, just leave a comment on this post below!

Giveaway closes Sunday, April 21, 2013, at midnight. Winner will be chosen using and notified by email as well as announced on this post Monday morning. Winner has three days to respond to email in order to claim prize or alternate winner will be chosen.



Please note: I was not financially compensated for this post and the opinions contained in it are my own. Acqua Panna and Highlands Bar and Grill graciously provide the prize. Tell Frank I said “hi” and eat some grits for me!



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  1. Dawn says

    I love finding out about this Alabama treasure. I think this would be a great place to take my husband. Hope I win, but if I do not Highlands will definitely be on my to do list.

  2. Judy says

    What a great reason for a trip “across the border” into AL from a neighboring state……..GA. I’ve read other articles about Highlands and would LOVE to try it.

  3. Sherry says

    Our 36th anniversary is coming up next month, it would be a great place to celebrate!

  4. Sherri Blaine says

    I would love to win this! I’ve heard many great things about highlands bar and grill!!! Would love to try it for myself!

  5. Pat F. says

    Would love to try this place. We have been doing regular doctor visits at UAB. We make the best of the situation by staying overnight in Birmingham, doing the eye doctor thing the next day and then returning to Huntsville a little less frazzled. Keep up the good work!

  6. Katrina says

    Have a wedding anniversary coming soon – it would be fantastic to celebrate at Highlands Bar and Grill!

  7. Susan says

    Sounds like a great dinner! I would love to take my hard working chef bf to dinner at Highland! Pick us!

  8. Millie says

    I would love to win this! I have his cookbook and have been wanting to eat at his restaurant when I am in Birmingham. Wish it were open for lunch but I have been to his others for lunch and they were delicious. Can’t wait to have dinner there!

  9. Sandy Locke says

    I have always admired Frank Stitt and love the Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham…. both treasures of our great state of Alabama! Would be honored to win!

  10. Robin Osborn says

    I live in LA but have a cousin who lives in Alabaster, AL who could use a nice night out with her hubby!

  11. Debbie Coleby says

    I just love you stories and that you share your family with us. Thanks for all you do.

  12. Betty says

    I have heard of the Highlands Bar and Grill but have never been there. And, of course, Frank Stitt is known by so many people as one of the finest chefs in the USA! What an honor for him and Highlands!

  13. Ann says

    Oh boy! We would love to win this $100 to eat at Highlands Bar and Grill. Our youngest lives in Alabama and we could stop on our way to see her. I’ll keep fingers crossed. Thanks Christy.

  14. janet green says

    Going to family weekend to fort benning georgia to see our son in may, this would be a really nice meal on our journey to go see him……..

  15. Karen says

    Wow! Our 20th Anniversary is coming up and I would absolutely love to have a beautiful evening at Highlands Bar and Grill! Thank you!

  16. Talmer (Tammy) Murray says

    I would love to win this. All I’ve ever heard about Highlands Bar & Grill have always been positive & praising!! My husband works all the time since I no longer can work due to my health. I would love to win bc this would be a much deserved night out for both of us!! Thanks!

  17. Missy Moore says

    For years now, I have been wanting to drive to our neighboring state of Alabama to visit Frank’s restaurant. It would involve an overnight stay and something always seems to come up that redirects the money we would have spent. We are now moving back to my home state of Texas, so I fear I’ve missed the boat for a week-end trip to Birmingham. However, if I were to win, you can bet your sweet biscuits that I’d be going come heck or high water! Thanks for the great giveaways, recipes, and words of wisdom, Christy!

  18. Mendy Dinsmore says

    I love your newsletter and all the great recipes. Sounds like an exciting trip. Thanks for the chance to win.