For this part of our Alabama Adventure, HH & I were driving from Scottsboro to Birmingham to visit SS, Miss Audrey Rose and GeoJohn (his new nickname).
HH & I decided we need to stop somewhere for a quick lunch before arriving in Birmingham, and HH was on a mission to find southern fried chicken. There really wasn’t any convenient fried chicken in NOLA, and Scottsboro and Guntersville didn’t seem to be featuring fried chicken either. We knew we would be having barbeque in Birmingham that night, so HH really wanted to find fried chicken.
As we drove the two hours from Scottsboro to Birmingham we kept an eye out. We pasted KFC and Popeye’s, we didn’t think Bubba Ritos would have fried chicken but who knows. Besides, we were laughing so much as we past Bubba Ritos it was too late to stop by the time we recovered. We past Zaxby’s and The Waffle House and many other southern delights, but still needed some fried chicken.
Finally, the road signs were telling us that we were 12 miles from Birmingham so HH got off the freeway in hopes of finding something close and quick. Also by this time, I was getting a little hungry and a bit anxious to get to SS’s – I just didn’t want to miss a minute of the time that we were going to have together on this visit and our estimated arrival time was fast approaching. We pasted a number of the chain restaurants that were right off the freeway and proceeded into the town when we arrived at stopped traffic on the two-lane road. It turned out church had just gotten out and the local police were stopping the traffic on the road in both directions so the cars could clear from the parking lot of the First Baptist Church.
Ten minutes later…we were finally able to drive into the town to find fried chicken. After a little more driving, unsuccessful Smartphone fried chicken search on my part, HH pulled into a big strip mall to do his own search. And just as I thought we were actually going to stop and eat, it seemed KFC would have to do but HH continued his trek for something more homegrown - much to my chagrin. Then he had me follow the map on his phone and direct him to what he found.
Much to my surprise and amazement, we pulled up in front of Irondale’s. This is a restaurant across from an historical train station that inspired Fannie Flagg to write Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. But more importantly, this was the first place I had dinner on my first fall visit with SS, Miss Audrey Rose and not-quite-yet-GeoJohn nine years ago.
Irondale’s is a “meat + 3,” it’s cafeteria-style with a menu on the chalk board so diners can figure what they want before they get to the serves behind the counter. You select your meat (HH got his fried chicken, I got chicken pot pie) and one, two or three sides depending on what you want. HH had fried okra and mashed potatoes with gravy; I had fried green tomatoes and mac & cheese. We both had cornbread, and I washed it all down with sweet tea, of course! It was delicious, and so worth the wait.
With all the angst I was feeling as we got off the freeway and spend probably 30 + minutes trying to find fried chicken, HH found the perfect place. It was nostalgic, it was the perfect southern meal, there was fried chicken, it was quick and I knew my way around. HH did it again. Thank you, HH, for your persistence and patience.