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Greenbrier Restaurant

27028 Old Highway 20, Madison, AL - (256) 351-1800
Posted By Mike Stroud on 10/29/2010 4:28:00 PM
Just a couple of miles off the bustling I-565 interchange between I-65 and Huntsville, Alabama sits a reminder of simpler times. There, deep in acres upon acres of fields devoted to cotton, is a place that specializes in delights worthy of any plantation table. For over 50 years now, Greenbrier Restaurant has been packing them in serving up deep-fried catfish and hickory-smoked barbecued pork and chicken.

Within moments of taking your seat, you get nearly a dozen of the most unique hush puppies you will likely ever see. Not round as if formed by an ice-cream scoop, they resemble the spoon-drop technique your grandfather probably used to fry them in a bubbling cauldron (a special machine does the trick here). The taste is miles better than anything you will find at a fish-and-chips fast food place.

I ordered the combination dinner with catfish and pork shoulder. Greenbrier breads their fish somewhat differently from their competitors, with a larger percentage of it wheat flour, instead of pure cornmeal, as some diehards insist on. Personally, I think this complements the tender, flaky fish, which has just enough “fishiness” to convince you that it is the real article. As for the pork, “inside” meat is the rule here, shredded, but not to death. Its character, like much barbecue in the Tennessee Valley, is more salty than smoky; this closed-pit product may take some getting used to by people accustomed to, say, Memphis-style meat, but give it a try.

Further, Greenbrier is a splendid place to get out of the vehicle, stretch your legs, and enjoy the fresh air and unparalleled scenery of one of the places where cotton never got dethroned as king, whether by the boll weevil, polyester, or anything else!

NOTES: Beware confusing this place with "Greenbrier Bar-B-Que," which is located on the access road off the Greenbrier Road exit on I-565; it has a similar menu but nowhere near the charm or spaciousness. Also, the owners of Greenbrier operate another restaurant on U.S. Highway 72 west of Athens, Alabama, the Catfish Inn, whose menu is identical to Greenbrier. Contact them at 256-729-8479 or www.catfish-inn.com.

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Scorecard

3 - Overall: Excellent - Worth a Detour
Overall: Excellent - Worth a Detour
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The ribs are cooked perfectly but lack good smoke flavor.
"The ribs are cooked perfectly but lack good smoke flavor."
Dave O'Ball





If you're a fan of hush puppies then you need to eat these. They are far and away the best I've had. They come in an endless, complimentary supply.
"If you're a fan of hush puppies then you need to eat these. They are far and away the best I've had. They come in an endless, complimentary supply."
Dave O'Ball


Much like the ribs, the BBQ chicken is cooked perfectly but lacks good smokiness.
"Much like the ribs, the BBQ chicken is cooked perfectly but lacks good smokiness."
Dave O'Ball


While I thoroughly enjoyed the catfish, Mrs. Sippi was in Catfish Heaven.
"While I thoroughly enjoyed the catfish, Mrs. Sippi was in Catfish Heaven."
Dave O'Ball


If you can't decide between the catfish or the ribs, Greenbrier offers a combination plate.  Of the two, the crispy catfish fillets are better.
"If you can't decide between the catfish or the ribs, Greenbrier offers a combination plate. Of the two, the crispy catfish fillets are better."
Cliff Strutz


Truthfully, I thought the hush puppies (which landed at my table within ten seconds of me sitting down) were ordinary.  Then I spotted a local pouring some white BBQ sauce on them and popping them in his mouth.  I tried it and found it to be a tasty combination.
"Truthfully, I thought the hush puppies (which landed at my table within ten seconds of me sitting down) were ordinary. Then I spotted a local pouring some white BBQ sauce on them and popping them in his mouth. I tried it and found it to be a tasty combination."
Cliff Strutz


Oh, what a joy.  Good old pond-raised catfish and tender, juicy pork shoulder together.  Surrounding the dynamic duo are a crunchy slaw, topped with pickles, and fries (baked potato usually available also).  You get your four basic Roadfood groups here: seafood, pork, cabbage, and potatoes.
"Oh, what a joy. Good old pond-raised catfish and tender, juicy pork shoulder together. Surrounding the dynamic duo are a crunchy slaw, topped with pickles, and fries (baked potato usually available also). You get your four basic Roadfood groups here: seafood, pork, cabbage, and potatoes."
Mike Stroud


A trio of two classic North Alabama barbecue sauces and tartar sauce for the catfish: in the center is an infamous mayonnaise and black pepper concoction used on barbecue chicken in these parts, while on the right is the traditional
"A trio of two classic North Alabama barbecue sauces and tartar sauce for the catfish: in the center is an infamous mayonnaise and black pepper concoction used on barbecue chicken in these parts, while on the right is the traditional "shake it for heat" vinegar and red pepper blend, the accompaniment to the tender inside pork shoulder meat favored at Greenbrier."
Mike Stroud


No, these aren't mutated shrimp. They are none other than the original Tennessee Valley appetizers, spoon-dropped hush puppies, Greenbrier originals.  They come out to you hot almost the moment you take your seat.
"No, these aren't mutated shrimp. They are none other than the original Tennessee Valley appetizers, spoon-dropped hush puppies, Greenbrier originals. They come out to you hot almost the moment you take your seat."
Mike Stroud


Greenbrier Restaurant sits right in the middle of Alabama's most fertile cotton fields.  It has fed hungry farmers, cotton gin workers, aerospace engineers, and even ordinary people since 1952.
"Greenbrier Restaurant sits right in the middle of Alabama's most fertile cotton fields. It has fed hungry farmers, cotton gin workers, aerospace engineers, and even ordinary people since 1952."
Mike Stroud


And at absolutely no extra charge, you get a fine view from Greenbrier's parking lot of the surrounding cotton fields, where these tractors have finished their work for the season.  One of the few remaining gins in the area sits catty-cornered from the restaurant.
"And at absolutely no extra charge, you get a fine view from Greenbrier's parking lot of the surrounding cotton fields, where these tractors have finished their work for the season. One of the few remaining gins in the area sits catty-cornered from the restaurant."
Mike Stroud



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