RHYTHM ON MONROE: Huntsville, Alabama

Conveniently located across the corridor from Mars Music Hall inside the Von Braun Center, Rhythm on Monroe in Huntsville, Alabama, is perfect for dining before or after a show or for a relaxing dinner or brunch at other times.

Location: Rhythm on Monroe, 700 Monroe Street, Huntsville, Alabama

Menu: The menu headings at Rhythm on Monroe carry out the happening music scene in a delightful way. Appetizers are “Sound Checks,” salads are “Opening Acts,” and entrees are “Headliners.” Sides are called “Groupies” and, quite logically, desserts are “Encores.” Although burgers, tacos, and chicken wings are ready and waiting, those who want a more elegant night out will also find Lamb Lollypops, Pecan-crusted Trout, and a Char-grilled Filet. Sides are spruced up a notch with offerings such as crispy Brussels sprouts, grilled asparagus, and Parmesan shoestring truffle fries.

Weekend brunch features an intriguing selection called Eggs Bennie and the Jets which can be accompanied by grilled ham, lump crab, or grilled shrimp. Rather than the expected English muffin as a base for the poached eggs, Rhythm’s chef uses a rustic biscuit. The Blueberry French Toast starts out as Blueberry Bread Pudding on the dessert menu but is cut into thick slices, sauteed with butter, sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar, and drizzled with syrup for brunch. French-pressed coffee adds to the meal’s special effect.

Thoughts: Rhythm on Monroe is owned by the Von Braun Center, named for German scientist Dr. Wernher Von Braun who is credited with much of the aerospace knowledge that gave Huntsville its identity. The Center is Huntsville’s largest event venue and has a 10,000-seat arena, a convention center, two concert halls and a playhouse. The timing of Rhythm’s opening in the spring of 2020 was unfortunate due to the worldwide pandemic and shutdown of businesses for several months. When restaurants were allowed to reopen for carry-out meals, Rhythm on Monroe was plagued with several cases of COVID-19 forcing yet another closure. Now, however, they are rocking and rolling in more than just a musical sense.

The indoor and outdoor dining spaces along with the rooftop bar are large and open easily accommodating social distancing requirements. Servers are masked, tables are clutter-free, and the whole interior gleams. The white, gray, and deep charcoal-colored interior is peppered with pops of turquoise, and the floors are polished squares of finished concrete. The bar with its flatscreen TVs for sports fans is separated from the main dining area by tall, leather banquettes. The atmosphere is stylish and contemporary, and the piped-in music matches the mood. The rooftop bar overlooks downtown Huntsville and Big Spring Park and serves an abbreviated menu. It can be accessed by an elevator near the entrance or by steps inside the restaurant.

Mars Music Hall is directly across from the restaurant and offers free concerts on Friday and Saturday nights. That makes Rhythm especially convenient and appealing for those who want to enjoy dinner before they attend, and the drinks menu has an extensive listing appealing to the after-concert crowd.

Service at Rhythm on Monroe is helpful, friendly and approachable. Several servers with whom I spoke called it “the best place I’ve ever worked,” and they praised the chef for his special attention given to people with particular allergies.

The food is excellent, the decor is pleasing, and the overall vibe is sure to create repeat customers.

Price range: Appetizers are $6-16. Salads are $6-7. Sandwiches and burgers are $8-12, and fuller entrees are $18-32. Desserts are $6.

Connie Pearson

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