Having the courage to open a brand, new restaurant just as the world is emerging from a global shutdown is remarkable by itself. Add a stunning decor and a premium cuisine, and you understand why Tom Brown’s Restaurant in Madison, Alabama is proving to be a instant hit.
Location: Tom Brown’s Restaurant, 8141 Highway 72 West at The Shoppes at Madison, Madison, Alabama
Menu: Owner and Head Chef, Tom Brown, is committed to serving the best possible meat and produce, along with fresh, never-frozen seafood from as far away as Hawaii. Black Angus Prime beef and varieties of fish that have been caught within hours of being served are possible because of the proximity to Huntsville International Airport and Brown’s contacts with knowledgeable suppliers.
Mean Green Egg Rolls is the name of a very popular starter and signature dish. They are stuffed with pulled pork and collard greens and drizzled with barbecue sauce, but other choices lean heavily toward seafood with crawfish tails, shrimp, clams, and crab claws on the list. At least eight different seafood items are listed on the regular menu, but each night will find an offering of what has been caught most recently. For instance, when I visited I had a fresh-caught filet of Hawaiian Wahoo, while my husband had a regular menu item of seared redfish topped with Crawfish Julie, a fabulous housemade sauce. We were both very happy with our choices.
I’m looking forward to returning to sample a steak. A startling item is called the TOMahawk and is described as a 38-ounce hand-cut, bone-in ribeye. I will need to save up my calories or maybe plan to share it.
Entrees come with a loaded baked potato as a side, but it can be substituted for mashed sweet potatoes topped with toasted marshmallows, collard greens, mashed cauliflower, asparagus, Brussels sprouts or several others. The homemade rolls, served after your order is taken and smeared with honey butter, signal a wonderful prelude to the meal that’s coming.
The owners obviously understand children. The Children’s Menu is called “I Want to Go Home” and lists items such as “I Don’t Care,” “I Don’t Know”, “Whatever,” and “I’m Not Hungry.” In truth, the choices under those headings sound very kid-friendly.
Thoughts: The dinner my husband and I enjoyed at Tom Brown’s Restaurant was truly delightful and such a refreshing change from run-of-the-mill dining experiences. First of all, the new restaurant is gleaming, attractive, and tastefully-decorated with soaring ceilings, velvet chairs, gold leaf accents, original artwork, and more chandeliers than I could count. Brown’s wife Ashley is a graphic designer, and their daughter Kenzie created the artwork. Brown himself contributed his carpentry skills with various pieces used in the interior layout.
Previously, the Browns owned a restaurant in Meridian, Mississippi where they renovated a Victorian-style historic building as their location. In the fall of 2019, they chose to relocate to Madison because of the vision and growth atmosphere evident by the city leaders and community entrepreneurs. They set right to work gutting their present building, which had sat vacant for three years. Just as they had everything ready to begin serving diners, COVID-19 forced everyone to lock their doors and stay home. It was frustrating but proved to be a productive, thoughtful time for them. They spent additional hours training their staff, developing recipes, and working out all the kinks. Finally, on June 1, 2020, they opened without the growing pains that most new restaurants endure. Already, diners must make reservations well in advance if they want to visit during prime dinner hours.
Tom Brown’s has a full bar with a large number of beers on tap and several signature drinks on the bar menu. In that area, there are several flatscreen televisions set to sports channels. In the main dining area, however, the piped-in music is at a pleasant volume and the focus is on great food, attentive service and conversation.
For those who are still nervous about dining in during the pandemic, it was apparent to me that the servers and staff at Tom Brown’s are striving diligently to follow all of the recommended guidelines: wearing masks, tables placed for social-distance awareness, hand sanitizer dispensers available, no condiments on the tables, staff members temperature-checked before every shift, etc.
There are two outdoor dining areas, both of which have attractive decor to match the interior. One wall features a custom art piece that says “Don’t Be Boring.” If that is the Browns’ philosophy, they are fulfilling it beautifully.
Price range: Starters range from $9-22. Steaks are $34-44. Seafood entrees are $18-38. Kids Menu items are $6-14.