Hot!Alabama Getaway

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EatingTheRoad
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/16 18:32:07 (permalink)
I love how you can watch 'em cook at the pit.

No order of banana pudding?
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Jennifer_4
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/16 19:41:03 (permalink)
lckt13

The best food in Alabama is in Atlanta!  sorry sorry excuse for a State period and I am from Opp and graduated from Auburn. the Dew Drop Inn in Mobile is sufficient if on survival mode. Head to New Orleans, Atlanta, Charleston or Savannah if hungry.

Alabama = NO food!  Even Whole Foods held off this long before surrendering to Birmingham denizens who moved there from out of state and needed a good grocer. Not one Trader Joes in the entire state. That says it all.


If Whole Foods and Trader Joes are your bellweather for good food...then perhaps you are only into gourmet foods and not good ol' country cookin'.... looks like from this report there is plenty of good things to eat in Alabama....
#62
will_work_4_bbq
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/16 23:08:09 (permalink)
I am so excited!  Just found out I have some long-lost , semi-distant relatives in Phenix City.  I think I need to go pay them a visit - soon - and get me on of those big ole hunk of pork chop sandwichs!
#63
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/17 08:23:35 (permalink)
will_work_4_bbq-
How cool to find out you have some new relatives.  If you do go to Phenix City to visit them, a stop for a pork chop sandwich is a must.  Especially with your screename!  Think you could fit in a scrambled dog, too?

ETR-
I knew I would be eating banana pudding at my next stop.  Of course, if I knew how bad that banana pudding would be, I would have had it at Dreamland BBQ.

#64
Lizzieslulu
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/17 09:22:23 (permalink)
I am probably only one of a few in Alabama who does not like Dreamland. I find their ribs tough, gristly, and not a lot of smoke flavor. There are a lot of better choices.

The pork chop sandwich looks awesome!
#65
Lizzieslulu
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/17 09:30:25 (permalink)
Nancypalooza

Cliff I think those Isaiah's pictures must be among your best--you can see the little grey fibers in the catfish, for Pete's sake.  I could eat that right off my screen.  Beautiful.  I can only imagine how it tastes.  It's extremely improbable that the peanut lady could have anticipated you but that's the beauty of serendipity.

I started to tell you about an infamous episode of 'TV Nation' that I thought took place at the state house in Alabama but looking it up it happened in Mississippi.  I wonder if their state houses look similar.  So did you ever find out what was being protested?

I don't think it's considered an RF place, but the Char-Grill in Raleigh has paper slips.  That is charming.  Can somebody explain fried corn to me?

JDA--do you know why it's called a Boston Cooler if it's appropriately made with Vernor's?  Or does Vernor's region include the east coast?


Nancy-
Fried corn is basically the same thing as creamed corn. Southerners just call it fried because we often make it in an iron skillet.
#66
Nancypalooza
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/17 09:59:05 (permalink)
Aaaah.  Thank you.  :)
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buffetbuster
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/17 15:05:24 (permalink)
Taking a break from the bbq (yes, there is still more bbq to come), one of the places I was most anticipated a visit to was The Bright Star

in Bessemer.  This is not your typical Roadfood stop, in that the meals can be quite expensive.
 
While taking photos outside of Bob Sykes Bar-B-Que, I chatted with a local policeman.  He seemed to be very interested in my eating travels and highly recommended The Bright Star.  I knew I would be dining during the day, so I drove by to see what the neon signs looked like at night.  I was not disappointed.


When I mentioned to the officer that my plans were for a Sunday visit, he told me to get there when they first opened, because they get mobbed with the after church crowd.  Good advice!
 
I pulled up at 10:30AM and figured I would need to kill a few minutes before their scheduled 10:45AM opening time.  But people were already walking in, so I made my way inside.  This place is big, dark, with lots of glass, wood and plush, comfortable booths.  It has the feel of a Midwestern Supper Club.  Here is an interior shot from my seat.

Very quickly, all the seats around me filled up with mostly senior citizens in their Sunday best.  And everyone knew everyone else, including the restaurant staff.  Lots of warm greetings and hugs all around.  My waitress, a 19 year veteran of The Bright Star still took great care of me, even though I seemed to be the only stranger in the dining room.
 
The meal started with a salad consisting of shredded cabbage and a thick Catalina French dressing. 

Unusual, but I liked it.  Next up was a bowl of their famous Seafood Gumbo. 

This was a dark, heavy brew, with lots of rice and cut up pieces of seafood.  This was really good.  The small cornbread muffin was fine,

but the warm, yeasty, soft dinner roll was even better.
 
The decision on what to get for my entree was extremely difficult.  Here is one page of the menu,

that doesn't even include that day's specials.  I could easily see myself eating any of about ten different things on there.  The fried crab claws were mighty tempting, but I asked for the snapper-Greek style, knowing this is one of their signature dishes.  My waitress asked if I wanted a lunch portion, that would include the vegetables and I said sure.  Here are my sides options

(and dessert options).  The baked squash casserole is a given, but I seriously messed up on my second choice.  I thought homemade creamed potatoes would be something different, but it was just basic mashed potatoes.  Nothing wrong with that, but how could I pass up fresh turnip greens or fresh snap beans?  I give myself a fail on this account. 
 
Anyway, here is my plate.

The lumpy mashed potatoes were fine and covered in a thin gravy.  The excellent baked squash casserole

was soft and ultra-creamy.  Greek-style for the snapper

seems to be lots of herbs and lemon, which complimented this fresh tasting piece of fish perfectly.  It is easy to see why they are famous for this.  The portion size was small, but considering how much else I was eating, that was okay with me.  The price was also much cheaper than shown on that menu page.  I think it was around $12.00.
 
While I was eating, my waitress came over and gave me a coupon for a free slice of pie.  She said the woman at the table next to me sent it over.  Wasn't that nice?  I've had a woman buy me a free drink in a bar before, but was new.  Guess which I prefer, a free drink or free pie?  The Bright Star is well known for their pies.  Having had several slices of chocolate pie already during the trip, I went with the lemon ice box pie.

Oh, baby, what a piece of pie this was!  Have you ever seen a pie with such a thick graham cracker crust?  I haven't.  The lemon part was dense, but smooth, while the whipped topping was light and airy.  This was easily the best pie on my trip.
 
Before leaving, I started to walk around and explore the place.  A couple who was sitting next to me, asked if I had been there before.  I told her no and she decided to give me a tour.  She pointed out several of the features in the main dining room, including the original murals on the wall.

She also took me into the back, where the original dining room was

and even introduced me to the owner, who I chatted with for a few minutes.  That was so nice of her.  The Bright Star was one of the top highlights of my trip.
 
The Bright Star
304 19th Street North
Bessemer, AL
205-426-1861
 
[link=http://www.thebrightstar.com/%3C/a%3E%3C/font%3E%3C/a%3E]http://www.thebrightstar....%3E%3C/font%3E%3C/a%3E[/link]
post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/11/17 15:46:42
#68
ScreamingChicken
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/17 15:22:35 (permalink)
So The Bright Star has no tables, only booths?  I like the separate compartments in the original dining room.

Oh, and the food looks pretty good, too.

Brad
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Lizzieslulu
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/17 15:22:52 (permalink)
Great report! I love The Bright Star just like everyone else I know who has been there.
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Nancypalooza
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/17 15:27:24 (permalink)
The Bright Star actually reminds me a bit of Musso & Frank in Hollywood, both in the decor and the menu.
 
I love that the woman sent you a coupon for a piece of pie--perfect.  You must be transmitting your love of pie to the cosmos.
#71
billyboy
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/17 15:29:16 (permalink)
A woman who knows how to put the smooth moves on BB!  "I'll have a slice of the chocolate cream pie and get that fine lookin' Yankee fella whatever pie he wants, on me."  I think she has followed your trip reports.  I can't view the pics here at work, but the write-up is fantastic.  Thanks!
#72
leethebard
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/17 15:33:38 (permalink)
The Bright Star looks like a special experience...that gumbo looks wonderful!!!
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EatingTheRoad
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/17 18:10:11 (permalink)
That place looks and sounds incredible. I always love the Sunday's Best crowd You know you're in the right spot when you see them piling in.

...and no, I have never seen a crust like that but I wouldn't mind seeing it in front of me right now.
#74
will_work_4_bbq
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/17 22:00:48 (permalink)
I am so glad you enjoyed The Bright Star!  A long time favorite!  Good choice with the snapper and the lemon pie.  Yum!  They treat you like family AND will remember you when you go back.
#75
buffetbuster
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/18 07:58:21 (permalink)
Nancy-
Good call on The Bright Star reminding you of Frank & Musso.  Now that you mention it, there is a similar feel.

Brad-
Looking at the photos, there are some tables, but the vast majority of the seats are at big, comfy booths.
#76
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/19 14:01:08 (permalink)
Okay, back to more bbq!
 
On Friday for lunch, I ate at Demitri's BBQ in Homewood,


which is reviewed here on Roadfood.  When I pulled in at just a few minutes before noon, the parking lot was already jam packed.  This is a popular place.  Interesting, there is no pig sign or figurine anywhere to be seen here, which is very unusual for a Southern bbq joint.  I originally sat at a table in the corner, but then noticed the lighting was bad for taking photos, so I sat at the crowded counter, next to the iced tea dispensers.  There is a long counter area,

with lots of tables on both sides.
 
The young lady who waited on me is a student at nearby Samford University and took great care of me.  The menu is big and offers bbq pork, chicken and turkey, but this is pork country, so I got a pork plate.

The pork was in fairly large chunks and was reasonably moist and tender, but there was too much fat in it.  Notice that they also give you a bun, in case you want to make your sandwich, which is a nice touch.  I did very much enjoy the tangy sauce.  The two sides were the average baked beans and the Greek style salad,

which is raw cabbage, with some of their homemade Greek dressing.  Very enjoyable!  To drink, some of the strongest, best sweet tea of my trip.
 
They do make their own pies, so I got a slice of their chocolate cream. 

This was one of the fudgiest, richest chocolate pies imaginable.  Maybe too rich and dense.  I didn't love it, but would still get it again.  Overall, I wish I could give Demitri's a better review, because the people (the owner came over and chatted for a few minutes) were so nice.  But there are definitely better bbq joints around Birmingham.
 
[link=http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Review/3355-3293/demetris-bbq]http://www.roadfood.com/R...3355-3293/demetris-bbq[/link]
 
post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/11/19 14:03:01
#77
EatingTheRoad
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/19 14:22:32 (permalink)
This was one of the fudgiest, richest chocolate pies imaginable.  Maybe too rich and dense.  I didn't love it, but would still get it again.


This made me drool....then frown....then laugh. That's too good. It looks delicious...as does the pork and slaw. I would have piled it all together on the bun.
#78
buffetbuster
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/19 14:24:33 (permalink)
EatingTheRoad
as does the pork and slaw. I would have piled it all together on the bun.
Interesting!  I didn't think of that.

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Nancypalooza
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/19 15:09:11 (permalink)
Ooooh, now I wanna go get some pork and slather it up with Greek dressing.  I bet that could be good.  I got the chuckles because I thought of cramming that piece of pie in with the slaw and pork too.  Bet that wouldn't be entirely bad.  ;)
#80
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/19 15:40:42 (permalink)
@Nancy- and as you do that someone inside Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh feels a strange disturbance in the "Force"!!
#81
Nancypalooza
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/19 20:04:07 (permalink)
LOLOL--or after you eat it you also might feel a strange disturbance in the Force. :)
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Play27
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/20 13:22:46 (permalink)
Jennifer_4

lckt13

The best food in Alabama is in Atlanta!  sorry sorry excuse for a State period and I am from Opp and graduated from Auburn. the Dew Drop Inn in Mobile is sufficient if on survival mode. Head to New Orleans, Atlanta, Charleston or Savannah if hungry.

Alabama = NO food!  Even Whole Foods held off this long before surrendering to Birmingham denizens who moved there from out of state and needed a good grocer. Not one Trader Joes in the entire state. That says it all.


If Whole Foods and Trader Joes are your bellweather for good food...then perhaps you are only into gourmet foods and not good ol' country cookin'.... looks like from this report there is plenty of good things to eat in Alabama....

lckt13 is obviously one of those many people from Alabama that are embarassed by their rural heritage. There are many super places to eat in Alabama and the Dew Drop isn't one of them. While their dogs are OK they aren't all that. Let's name some other Alabama joints....Ezell's Fish camp, Butler, AL; the original Dreamland in Tuscaloosa; Hot and Hot in Birmingham; Wintzell's Oyster House, Mobile; and on and on.
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buffetbuster
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/20 14:34:31 (permalink)
Play27-
Nice list!  I still have Hot and Hot Fish Club to come.
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/20 14:40:09 (permalink)
buffetbuster

are you gonna make it to the Green Top in Dora?

nypn
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/20 14:59:21 (permalink)
NYPN-
That was high on my list of places to vist, no, I wasn't able to make it to Green Top.  Next time, for sure!
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/20 15:03:52 (permalink)
I loved their bbq pork sandwich there but the waitress we got was about the worst I have ever experienced.

My daughter goes there a lot (she lives in Walker County and commutes to Birmingham for work).  She said it was an anomaly.  (She and my grandkids were with me when we ate there a few years ago - on the way back from vacationing in Panama City.)

I may revisit it shortly - I am going to  visit my kids and grandkids shortly after Thanksgiving.
post edited by NYPIzzaNut - 2009/11/20 15:57:27
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/23 07:09:15 (permalink)
Finally finishing up with the bbq, on Thursday night I hit an old favorite Bob Sykes Bar-B-Que in nearby Bessemer.  My two previous visits were both during the day, so this is the first time I got to see the vintage sign

lit up at night.  Some of the interesting things that greet you when you first walk in are the open pit

and some of the largest rocking chairs I have ever seen.

 
I went for the 1/2 slab rib plate.

Plenty of meat on these ribs,

with a really nice chew, lightly covered with the sweet bbq sauce.  Thumbs up on the ribs.  Both the porky flavored green beans

and the bbq sauce laden baked beans were winners.  Your dinner comes with two big slices of Texas toast.

 
To drink, sweet tea, of course!  It comes in a plastic white cup

you can take home, which has their motto, "50 Years, 3 Generations, 1 Recipe" on it.  The tea here is help yourself.  The large, almost empty container on the left is the sweet tea, while the smaller completely full container on the right is the unsweetened.
 
Easy to see which one the locals prefer.
 
Bob Sykes is almost famous for their pies, especially their cream pies.  Last visit I had the lemon, so this time it was the chocolate.

The meringue tasted a little too prefabricated on this visit, but the chocolate part was wonderfully fudgy.
 
Three visits to Bob Sykes spread out over a decade and the place has been just as good on each visit.
 
Bob Sykes Bar-B-Que
1724 9th Avenue N
Bessemer, AL
205-426-1400
 
[link=http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Review/632-632/bob-sykes-barbq]http://www.roadfood.com/R...32-632/bob-sykes-barbq[/link]
 
post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/11/23 07:11:59
#88
NYPIzzaNut
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/23 08:01:49 (permalink)
When I lived in Jasper,  Alabama during the 1970s I about lived at the Bob Sykes on Route 78 - the whole town was so depressed when their building burned down.
#89
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/23 08:11:57 (permalink)
  Beautiful!!   Did you notice that the pitmaster seems to have a little " Snackin' pile" on the far right side of the pit?  That's my kind of job benefit! 
#90
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