Coming up on its first anniversary, Real & Rosemary in Homewood offers “real” food. For Jennifer Mims, the owner, this restaurant enables her to share her love for fresh, home-cooked veggies with others, and as a native of Chilton County, she grew up eating fresh peaches, peas, tomatoes, strawberries, and other fruits and vegetables that their family would get from the farmer’s market or a friend’s garden. When she started a family, she wanted to provide “real” food for her children. Food without preservatives, dyes, and MSG. Food in its most basic form – like what our grandparents ate. This translated into opening a restaurant where she could serve tasty food that she would feel good about her own family eating.
That’s where the “real” comes in, and the rosemary of “Real & Rosemary” stems from the rosemary bushes that Mims’ mom has at her home. Rosemary bushes as well as other herbs also fill the planters around the restaurant’s front patio.
When I first went to Real & Rosemary, one of the first things that struck me before I even at the food was how cute the restaurant is. They even have a cute bathroom and have thoughtfully installed a child-sized toilet that preschoolers can use. The whole look of the restaurant makes me feel like I’m in a French cafe. The building dates back the 1930s and was previously a dry cleaners. Mims and her crew kept the integrity of the building, so the walls and ceiling trusses are original while a white patio, white marble countertops, and white subway tile floors have been added.
What to Eat When You Go
So when you go to Real & Rosemary, my favorite thing that you must get as a side is the Corn Polenta Cake. It’s a circle of warm, cheesy goodness. One reason that I enjoy eating at Real & Rosemary (besides the corn polenta and their dessert) is that the food is tasty, healthy, and fresh, and I feel good eating it. Because the restaurant uses fresh ingredients, some of their salads and sides change with what’s in season. For example, this winter, their Seasonal Succotash includes black-eyed peas, lima beans, tomatoes, and corn served warm with herbs and a creamy sauce. It’s delicious and made me thankful that I get two sides with the R&R Grilled Herb Chicken, which has a wonderful Sorghum Honey Mustard served on it.
While some of their salads (like the Southwest Salad) seem to stay on the menu year round, others rotate with the season. So my go-to for winter contained beets, figs, almonds, and goat cheese with a balsamic dressing (aptly named the Beet, Fig, & Goat Cheese Salad, which you can also get as a sandwich).
As far as sandwiches go, I prefer the BLT, which has your typical ingredients along with fried green tomatoes and a chipotle mayo. They also offer other sandwiches such as a Roast Turkey Sandwich, Reuben, a Burger, and a Grilled Chicken Sandwich (grilled chicken, roasted portobello, collard pesto, charred red onion, and arugula). On my list to try next is the Meatball Sandwich that has housemade meatballs, mozzarella, basil, and an herb tomato sauce on it. You can also get the Housemade Braised Meatballs as a plate served with two sides if you don’t want the bread of the sandwich.
As far as starters go, I’ve only had the Fried Green Tomatoes and the Sweet Potato Wedges, both of which I recommend, but I’m also wanting to sample their Collard Pesto Dip that’s served with fresh veggies and their Honey Ricotta Dip that’s served with toast. So much food and so little time (and money in the budget).
But with Real & Rosemary, the literal icing on the cake for me is their dessert, which are the Cup Cakes made by Pastry Art Bake Shoppe (located across the street). I’ve had the strawberry and the red velvet, but they also have caramel and chocolate. Words cannot describe how good these things are! If you’ve had Pastry Art’s baby bites, this is that in a cup, and they are so moist. One of the staff that I talked to says that she’ll take hers home and microwave it for 10-15 seconds so it’s warm and gooey, but I haven’t been able to wait that long to eat mine…So if you try it, let me know what you think!
1922 29th Ave. S.
Open daily from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.