But not if you're already in town and have heard amazing things about a place like Big Bad Breakfast. The retro diner,
That's enough of the copyspeak. Let me tell you about our visit.
Grav and I rolled out to Birmingham for Food Media South, a really neat conference that brought folks that write food blogs and articles like myself together with editors and social media folks and other people who think southern food is just dandy. I was pinching it in between an appearance at the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association's meet in Fayetteville and an important mission to Houston (more about that later). I'd already put about a thousand miles on the Honda, we were done with the conference and we needed sustenance of epic nature before the dual drive that day to Corinth and Tupelo, MS, respectively.
The thought of eating at a chain restaurant or even at somewhere close to our our hotel seemed... defeating, somehow. After all, Grav and I relish the adventure... it's what keeps us going. So we poured through Urbanspoon listings and found something that seemed very, very amazing -- Big Bad Breakfast. It wasn't too far out from Homewood, where we'd been overnighting, and though it was exactly the opposite way from our departure direction, the photos provided on the review page were astounding.
Now, I've had and missed my chance to eat at the original Big Bad Breakfast quite a few times... thanks to the fact that my Oxford forays are usually limited to visits to the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium each October and that by the time I have free space for breakfast, I am eated-out, I have passed. I have enjoyed Chef Currance's marvelous City Grocery and Boure' (the latter of which makes a Bloody Mary in which I don't have to beg mercy, it is of beauty). So I knew there was a good chance the vittles would be better than edible. I shared the information with Grav, and he got excited. So we got our stuff together, checked out and drove. And drove. And drove. Because, for someone coming from Arkansas, that drive down to Hoover from Homewood (which is all apparently part of the Birmingham metro) is a series of undulating forested hills interspersed with regularity by big flats of shopping centers and the occasional apartment complex, as if one had magnified the scope of JFK/Highway 107 on its journey northward from McCain Boulevard in North Little Rock on up through Sherwood and transported it miles away. That's a ridiculous analogy. I probably should apologize for putting that there. But I won't.
It wasn't the chef that had lured me in, not even the promise of non-pork alternative chicken sausage or even the knowledge that the jelly is made in-house. I had spotted something on the menu, and I was wondering if I might possibly get up the gumption to take on a certain dish.
But we had the line to contend with, and once I found a parking spot about six down from the front door we waited, windows open, for someone to holler that it was Well Done. Yeah, I made a bad pun there. I am in that sort of mood. All the while, Grav flip-flopped between reasoning that by the time we'd driven back as far as Homewood, we'd finally get in -- and the idea that this better be the best damned breakfast he'd had in his life. I countered with the fact that it was Sunday, that we'd checked out at 11 a.m. and that the church crowd was jockeying for every restaurant in the region with us. We could take this.
Thing is, this particular Sunday was a rather dreary, wet day. Few wanted to wetten their bottoms on the benches placed outside, and we noticed several that walked away after standing around under umbrellas. The front vestibule might have been packed with hipsters waiting for a bite to eat, but outside there were families chatting up each other's ideas on food. I overheard one three-generation set decide to try a local burger joint instead when it was mentioned that the noon hour had approached.
It was PERFECT.
Just a quick glance at the menu told me I'd be getting some "lead" in my system, and I ordered up Octane Coffee. I was tempted to get fresh squeezed grapefruit juice as well but demurred, knowing my bladder was no match for the gargantuan stretches of recently-opened I-22 that had not yet been built out to by the myriad of tiny towns along its 'Bama length. Grav peered over his glasses at his menu, grumbling that we'd waited too long to eat and he was going to have a hard time of it. I threw suggestions his way, each answered with a grunt.
Because I already knew what I wanted. Though I was tempted by broiled grapefruit and the Cahaba Lily, I was sold the moment I saw it... the
My concentration over such may have been the reason why I didn't get Grav's order, and how I managed to screw up and order for him the Low Country Breakfast rather than the requested Creola Skillet. I am still to this day burned inside about that. Not that Grav wasn't gracious about it, but that I had erred. Until I can get him back to Oxford or Birmingham to experience his requested dish, I am in his debt.
We had no doubt, though, when our order was coming... because there was a mountain approaching the front of the kitchen window, a mountain of truly epic. I briefly reconsidered my life choices, decided I was fine with them and after all, we were on the road, and made mental note to order some larger pants.
It was then that I realized my error. I felt great guilt as I tore into the monster before me.
Mind you, we had eschewed breakfast for the promise of an incredible brunch, and now it was afternoon and I was nicely caffeinated from the Octane Coffee. But it would not have mattered if I had recently consumed a complete Tudor
And while Grav became familiar with his plate, while he began to elevate and praise the remarkable biscuit with his repast and to slather it with housemade strawberry jam, I inhaled every bit of
I consumed the waffle with relish and desire in a way that should have been embarrassing to any other boyfriend unaccustomed to the passion I feel for good, hearty food. And I managed to do it without dressing myself in its crumbs or drips.
It was enough. It was thrilling and filling and once I realized it was gone I sat on my stool and stared longingly at my plate, my belly already griping at the waistline on my pants. Samuel poured me more coffee and swiftly returned with another cupful in a takeaway. I even reached across the table and swiped a fingerful of strawberry jam left on Grav's plate.
PHOTOFEED BONUS: On our way out of town, we found a Vulcan.
Big Bad Breakfast
5361 US Highway 280
Birmingham, AL 35242