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Regina’s Kitchen Adds Some Class to Mobile’s Government Street

4 May

It was a dark and stormy Tuesday in Mobile, but things were bright and cheery inside Regina’s Kitchen. I had entered the eatery once before. That was a few weeks back. I had been there to meet the owner in hopes of discussing an advertising opportunity I was pitching. She seemed like a lot of fun and the place looked great. The building had previously housed the French Market Cafe. That restaurant offered authentic New Orleans soups and sandwiches, but ultimately succumbed to financial difficulties and the owner’s health challenges. I was sad to see them go. They made a fine Roast Beef Po-Boy.

The interior at Regina’s is not altogether different than the French Market Cafe. It’s a very comfortable, welcoming space. Plenty of dining room inside and it appears they need it all. The crowds over the restaurant’s first year in operation have been strong and consistent. The lunch rush is a equal mix of attorneys, housewives, accountants, and little old ladies dolled up for a day out. I even spotted a couple “men of the cloth” dining in black & white at a nearby table.  Regina’s actually does a steady drive-thru business too.

Regina’s Kitchen features red & white checkered table cloths and a healthy menu of soups, signature salads, and sandwiches. Finding something appealing on the oversized, double-sided cardboard menu was easily done. Final decisions were tougher. I eventually opted for the day’s lunch special: Sliced Turkey on Croissant with Brie Cheese, Granny Smith Apples and Chutney Mayo. The tipping point for my decision was the wedge of iceberg lettuce doused with a housemade blue cheese dressing. The salad came along with the sandwich at no additional charge. $7.95 for the entire package — what a deal!   

My sandwich was quite satisfying. My lettuce was really good too, although I wish I had asked for a little more blue cheese dressing. The dressing was excellent — not too goopy with large chunks of pungent cheese. Guess they were watching my waistline … Lord knows I don’t often do the same. Iceberg is often thought of as a “poor man’s lettuce,” yet it’s a nice treat once in a while. Especially if the wedge is big, cool and crunchy. A nice milky dressing is always an ideal foil.    

Not sure who John (above) is — but I gotta try his special sandwich. A “BPT” ??? A “PBT” ??? Not sure which name (if either) fits. I just love pimento cheese (I prefer homemade, not the mass produced stuff) and adding bacon to the party seems like a stroke of Dixie genius. ***Note: The only store bought pimento I can heartily recommend is Palmetto Pimento Cheese out of Pawleys Island, SC. It is nothing short of phenomenal (www.palmettocheese.com).  

My dessert (I don’t often treat myself at lunch) was Regina’s Mississippi Mud Cake. I saw it lurking in a metal serving pan behind the front register and I just could not resist it’s many delights. Glad I didn’t. It was a heavenly marriage of a dense chocolate brownie/cake topped with melted marshmallows and a rich fudge icing. It left me with a broad smile and a massive sugar buzz that lasted well into the afternoon.

Regina’s Kitchen is now on my regular weekday lunch rotation. That honor is not easily accomplished. But you just can’t beat a place that offers a clean and cheerful dining environment, a variety of fresh and healthy menu options, fair pricing, and “treat you like family” service. Well done, Regina. You are carrying on your family’s restaurant traditions with true grace and style!

Regina’s Kitchen – 2056 Government St., Mobile – (251) 476-2777

www.facebook.com/pages/ReginasKitchen/130215213681624

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Nothing Scary about Alabama’s Bates House of Turkey

25 Apr

On a recent business trip to Montgomery, I happened to drive through the town of Greenville, AL. As I headed south, I spotted Bates House of Turkey on the right side of I-65. Hmmm, I thought to myself. Why have I never heard of this place? The Bates Motel, yes. The Bates House of Turkey, no. It looked like an inviting little restaurant and it appeared to have been there for quite a while. Hmmm again, lots of cars in the parking lot. License plates from all over the USA. Why was this big secret being kept from me? It wasn’t lunch time or dinner time, but I just had to pop in and have a look around.

The menu I picked up informed me that the Bates Turkey operation began over 80 years ago. In June of 1923, Mr. Bates received 9 turkey eggs as a wedding present from his Aunt Mamie (not sure where you would register for that type of gift). This led to a full-fledged turkey farm that has now been in the Bates family for 5 generations. The farm, I learn, is located in Fort Deposit, AL — just 12 miles down the road. A short ride from the farm to the table … gotta like that.

Bates House of Turkey is proud to offer this naturally nutritional meat for your eating enjoyment. Bates House of Turkey uses only select turkeys from Bates Turkey Farm. Home cooking is their specialty, because they use fresh vegetables and farm fresh turkeys. Bates’ Roast Turkey dinners are just like the old fashioned dinner your grandmother would cook. The Bates family supervises your turkey from the egg to the table to assure you the finest turkey ANYWHERE.

As I continued on my way home to Fairhope, I made a mental note to return to the Bates House of Turkey for a meal one day soon. In fact, that was not going to be soon enough for me. I recalled the packed dining room and the happy, satisfied faces on the patrons (mostly wise old folks who know something about a good home cooked Southern meal).  It was then that I decided to order myself a hickory smoked turkey breast when I arrived home that evening. Momma didn’t raise no dummy. 

When I contacted Bates via their website, they seemed excited to make my acquaintance as well. They quickly offered to send me a turkey breast for us to review at no charge whatsoever. It arrived at my front door this week in a well-packed styrofoam container. Upon lifting the top off the box, the aroma of delicious hickory smoked white meat permeated the entire house. Why don’t they make air freshener out of this stuff??? Well, that’s just me thinking out loud.

Last night we heated the bird (300 degrees for about 15 minutes) and served it with some cornbread stuffing, stewed zucchini & sweet onions, and a nice Pinot Grigio. The brilliantly white turkey slices really needed no gravy or sauce. It was so incredibly moist and tender – no knife required. It was nice and smoky thorughout, but the slices closest to the bird’s golden brown skin were just sublime. The dining table got very quiet and we all chowed like it was a certain Thursday in November. Yes, we had reason to give thanks — even if it was late April.

This is not your typical corporate-run poultry horror show, folks. Far from it. These happy, healthy birds are farm raised with a TLC that shines through with each and every bite. I’ve had some wonderful turkey meals in my day, but honestly can’t recall enjoying one any more than I did this go around. The folks at Bates really know what they are doing. Alfred Hitchcock’s  “Bates Motel” turned out to be a house of horrors. But the Bates House of Turkey promises nothing but sweet dreams of the most delicious turkey you may ever put in your mouth. So check in with Bates — and check it out! 

BATES TURKEY FARM, INC.
45 Bates Road
Fort Deposit, AL 36032

Toll Free: (888) 249-4505
Fax: (334) 227-4386

Farm: (334) 227-4505
Restaurant: (334) 382-6123
www.batesturkey.com