BRW 2014: Parish Seafood and Oyster House

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My husband loves seafood. He's originally from Virginia, so he grew up eating fish, shrimp, and crab the way my fellow Alabamians and I grew up eating chicken and ribs. So I knew that during Birmingham Restaurant Week 2014 we'd try at least one seafood place. We decided to visit a restaurant we'd never tried before -- Parish Seafood and Oyster House in Trussville. 

For our starter, my husband and I shared Nikki's Low Country Crab Cake -- a huge homemade crab cake made with lump and claw, blue crab served on a bed of Creole corn and topped with zesty remoulade sauce. 

For dinner I had the Low Country Shrimp and Grits -- creamy three-cheese grits smothered with big, juicy shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, green onion, and applewood bacon. At Parish they aren't stingy with the shrimp, making this a great pick for shellfish lovers. 

My husband had the Deluxe Seafood Platter because he wanted a little bit of everything -- fried catfish, fried shrimp and fried oysters, served with hushpuppies, cole slaw and fries. The shrimp, which I kept swiping from his plate, was seasoned perfectly. But hubster said the succulent catfish was "the star of the meal."

Matt Norman opened Parish Seafood and Oyster House in February of last year with a simple concept. 

"I wanted to open something simple, laid back that everyone could enjoy. I have always loved seafood and loved cooking this style of food," Norman said. "We strive to be that comfortable neighborhood restaurant and bar where friends can come to meet for a drink, enjoy our oyster bar, but you wouldn't think less of it as an option to bring your wife on a date or an anniversary."

Parish certainly has the welcoming atmosphere Norman is striving to achieve. The staff if friendly and goes above and beyond to be helpful. When my husband and I visited on a recent evening after work, the sound of soul music was soaring through the air. Enjoying the music, dinner guests were swaying in their seats and bopping their heads to the beat. 

Parish Seafood and Oyster House also serves live music on some nights. And they host a  jazz brunch on Sundays from noon to 3 p.m., featuring live jazz, $2 mimosas and $5 trips to the "Build Your Own Bloody Mary" bar.

Parish Seafood and Oyster House has a spacious covered patio that's perfect for events (when it's not 100 degrees outside).

"When we started out we were serving po'boys on deli paper and using foam cups and plastic ware," Norman said. "We moved past that. I now bring in a few hundred pounds of fresh gulf fish each week - red snapper, grouper, flounder - all butchered in house." 

Norman went on to say, "We like all kinds of food but most importantly, we love people. They, after all, are the only reason we are in this business and the only reason I am in this business. I want to make them all happy -- every last one that comes through our doors. Period."

And he means that. On the day of my and my husband's visit the temperature outside was hovering just below 100 degrees and so it was pretty hot inside the restaurant, too. Noticing sweat on the brow of some customers, Norman, who's been in the restaurant industry for 20 years, started offering free cocktails and glasses of wine to his guests. 

When asked what he thinks sets Parish apart from other local seafood restaurants, Norman's answer was simple: "Stubbornness," he said. 

"We know we are not always doing it right. We know we have room to improve. We know we aren't perfect. We are not too proud to admit it. However, we strive to be. We start over every day trying to be better." 


  1. I love this place and the fish tacos! The staff is very friendly. The place has a "where everybody knows your name" atmosphere.