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Bham Eats: Sky Castle Gastro Lounge

sky castle burger


Avondale’s business district has built its reputation on a strong sense of place. Parkside, Avondale Brewing Co., and Fancy’s on Fifth all reference Avondale Park, while Rowe’s and Post Office Pies nod at the former occupants of their spaces. It’s a new Birmingham place that owes its ambience to the past. Lakeview’s entertainment district, in contrast, has long time businesses but a less present history. Until Sky Castle Gastro Lounge, the newest venture for the Bajalieh restauranteurs and chef Haller Magee.  

The original Sky Castle was a forward-looking radio studio, the restaurant’s website notes, conveniently situated above Ed Salem’s Drive-In. Drive-in customers stayed around to see radio happen in real time, according to the site, creating an early combination of food and entertainment. The restaurant describes itself as a place “giving a nod to the past while shaping the future,” and we’re inclined to agree. With its throwback name and place in Lakeview’s premiere mixed-use development — 29 Seven — it has feet firmly planted in both local lore and present progress.

Like its name, the styling is nostalgic without being full-on retro. It’s the set of Mad Men filtered through a CB2 layout. Burnt orange chairs and formica-inspired tables line an olive-toned banquette, effecting a classic diner gone chic. Coordinating couches and chairs form a low-slung lounge zone along the front windows. Dramatic waterfall wood paneling, Lakeview photo murals, and a copper bar backsplash create a solid visual brand: the sleek modernism of 29 Seven tempered with the palette of a former age.

But all that style and story would be worthless without a menu that could stand on its own. Sky Castle’s is full of delightfully hard choices — Pimento cheese or poutine? Tagliatelle carbonara or chicken and waffles? It wouldn’t be unreasonable to develop a strategic plan for your gastronomical approach, phased in over a series of regular visits. For now, we can recommend the pimento cheese fritters or roasted cauliflower appetizers, along with the Sky Castle burger or oyster & bacon sandwich entrees.

We could wax on about the subtle creaminess of tahini sauce or the sweet tang of caramelized onions and tomato jam. What really stands out, though, is the overall lightness of some truly heavy menu selections. We’re not saying fried pimento cheese offers any health benefits, of course, but by rights we should have struggled with the weight of excess. Instead, we left feeling delighted (albeit not hungry for a very long time).

The gastropub (lounge) has come to mean casual fare with a serious foodie attitude. Or, put another way, comfortable favorites through a fine dining lens. It’s a highly calibrated balance that Sky Castle achieves from branding to styling to the food itself. Head here for its new retro vibe and its heavy food favorites cooked with a light hand.


Want more? Check out our Sky Castle-inspired styling tips.

Bham Design: Sky Castle Lessons for Loft-Style Spaces

We love the food at Sky Castle Gastro Lounge, but we’re equally obsessed with its style. It specializes in making midcentury ideas feel contemporary and in making a wide open space house clear “rooms.” All of which got us thinking about how to make the most of loft-style spaces and entertain in them like a pro. Read on for our lessons learned.



sky castle gastro lounge


Match your utilities to your ceiling:

Sky Castle’s exposed plumbing pipes and electrical conduits boast the same matte black as its ceiling, giving the texture of an industrial look without the same high contrast. It makes the raw function of the space another feature, not THE feature. And it doesn’t have to be a dark ceiling. There’s no reason a clean white wouldn’t work just as well. Proof: this Houzz portfolio photo from Minneapolis.


Keep laptop tables handy:

You know guests need places for their drinks and snacks. A traditional setup of coffee table and side tables is one way to get the job done, but it’s not necessarily the best way, especially when there’s food involved. The solution? Sky Castle uses sleek laptop tables (like this one from World Market). The added height keeps hearty nibbles at hand and off your couch.


Use couches in multiples:

An easy way to create an intimate conversation area (or a cozy place for screening sports and films) is to use multiple couches. It’s a statement that’s both cosier and stronger than a couch and chairs. Just remember to keep the furniture profile relatively low if you’re following this advice. It creates the lounge you’re looking for without sacrificing the sight lines of open space.


Think built-in:

Entertainment and lighting get a smooth new look when they’re flush with your walls and ceiling, as in Sky Castle’s striking tiger wood veneer installation. The full pro version is not for the faint of heart — or budget — since you’ll either need a very fancy TV cabinet or custom veneer. For the adventurous DIY-er, we found adaptable instructions here. For a more achievable look, try this idea (via this blog), which uses artful shelving in place of standard media storage.