Tag Archives: Fairhope Alabama

Make The Old 27 Grill Your New Friend in Fairhope

1 Oct

The Old 27 Grill can be found on Alabama State Route 181 (once known as County Road 27) just south of Wal-Mart. It’s somewhat off the beaten path, although this part of Baldwin County is growing more bustling by the day. The local residents are a mix of farmers (cotton, corn, pecans, etc.) and Mobile-based professionals seeking a little more elbow room & greenery.  

The front facade of the restaurant looks relatively new, but the overall vibe is retro general store. As a matter of fact, the word GROCERY actually appears on the sign which tops the eatery’s entry. I was in the vicinity one weekday (late morning) and decided to drop in for an early lunch. Cool looking little joint, I thought. And the reports I had been receiving about the food quality were pretty encouraging. Spotting motorcycles parked out front is another positive indicator. I must add that the American flag flying to the right of the main doorway is a nice touch too.

The patio courtyard at the Old 27 is inviting, for sure. But it was a steamy day in late September and most diners had opted for indoor seating. I joined them inside. The surroundings were clean and appropriately appointed. My glass-topped table had a decidedly Ducks Unlimited theme. Picking up the menu, I was immediately impressed with the variety of choices for such a tiny kitchen.

Hot Dogs & Sausage Dogs are principal players at The Old 27 Grill. The dogs are all beef and offered in your choice of 7″ or 10″. Beyond that, the possibilities are pretty endless. 27 toppings, yes 27, in all. Figures, right? All the basics are here, along with more quirky condiments such as “Comeback” sauce, Green Chili sauce, and that omnipresent Sriracha red chili sauce. The first dozen topping options are free. Others require an additional modest financial commitment.  I also couldn’t help noticing the ambitious list of beverage options. Abita Root Beer, Vernor’s Ginger Ale, Stewart’s Cream Soda, Yuengling, Lazy Magnolia & Abita Beers, and a better than average wine list (bottle prices range from $12-$16). The Old 27 also sells local honey and a variety of their bottled sauces. I guess that is where the GROCERY comes in, huh? 

Beyond weenies, there are several appealing sandwich choices at lunchtime. The burgers are popular, yet I decided to go with Comeback Chicken Sandwich. Marinated chicken breast, bacon, Swiss cheese, crisp lettuce, thinly sliced red onion, and a heaping dollop of Old 27’s signature Comeback sauce. Comeback sauce is a prevalent condiment in the Mississippi Delta. You might say it’s the Magnolia State’s answer to Louisiana’s remoulade. Take some mayo, add some red chili sauce, mix well. That will give you the general idea. Each sauce is slightly different to the next — everyone introducing their own spin or secret ingredient to the party.   

This Comeback Chicken Sandwich (seen below) is elevated by a fresh brioche-style bun at Old 27 Grill. The sandwich was tasty (how could it not be?). My lunch basket was rounded out with a generous helping of Old 27’s housemade potato chips. You can upgrade to fries or onion rings for a slight upcharge, but sticking with the standard option was not a misstep. The chips were great and I was soon a member of the clean plate (or should I say basket?) club.

A closer look at the Comeback Chicken Sandwich at Old 27 Grill

The housemade chips at Old 27 were large, crunchy & delicious

I must say I was tempted by the dessert menu at Old 27. Not that I was still hungry. The sandwich and chips, along with a tall glass of iced tea, had made for a quite satisfying mid-day meal. Brownies, crepes, and soft serve ice cream all make for excellent post-entree selections. I was drawn to the Strawberry Crepe, but that will have to wait for another visit. This first trip to the Old 27 Grill was, in my mind, a success. Sure, my tea was a little weak for my taste. But if that is your biggest gripe, then you are likely doing pretty darn well. The service, I should add, was friendly & swift. The atmosphere homey & welcoming. The overall attention to detail impressive. Looks like I have found a new dining partner in the Old 27 Grill.  

OLD 27 GROCERY & GRILL – 19992 Highway 181, Fairhope, AL

(251) 281-2663; www.old27grill.com

Open Tuesday-Saturday 9 am – 9:30 pm; Sundays 11 am – 8 pm

The Dragonfly Food Bar Soars Proudly into Downtown Fairhope

5 May

I first heard about Dragonfly at the Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival this Spring. They were offering some pretty unique street treats that particular day. I was tickled to later learn that they had opened a “food bar” in the heart of Fairhope’s historic downtown. It certainly seemed to be a good fit.

The advance buzz (Get it? Dragonfly?) on the street was quite positive. In fact, some of my local contacts were raving about Dragonfly’s innovative world view on tacos. A braised beef cheek taco was being offered the day I finally decided to show up. What took me so doggone long to get here???  

This retro bike stands ready to deliver your Dragonfly lunch

Dragonfly offers 12 (yes, you heard right) taco choices on their daily menu. After some intense internal debate, I called out for one Kung Pao chicken taco and one braised pork taco. I plan on eventually getting to them all (with the possible exception of chicken liver taco), but that may take numerous visits to achieve. No problemo … I can surely make that happen.  

It’s all about Dragonflys – even the outside lantern plays along

Yes, they do look seriously yummy don’t they? They were. Let’s just put that right out there. Really, really good. The flavors were somewhat familiar. It’s just the whole “rolling them up in a taco thing” that was throwing me off a bit. Pork roast as tender as Granny’s love — enhanced with apple, habanero, lime, and avocado. Spicy Kung Pao chicken accompanied by chopped carrot, daikon, and a zesty peanut sauce. I love Asian satay and I love my Granny, so I was totally on board with the whole nine yards. But where exactly does one find daikon in Fairhope, Alabama? I’ll have to ask Dragonfly’s chef/owner Doug Kerr about that someday soon. More power to him, I reckon.

I often refer to Fairhope as an “artsy Mayberry by the Bay.” We even have our own little barber shop — and a vintage barber’s pole — just like good old Floyd. (Insert your own joke here).

The barber shop is actually the Dragonfly’s next door neighbor. Seems like a minor detail, sure. Yet I was able to dine outside at the sidewalk picnic table and, at the same time, overhear all the latest gossip spilling out the barber’s wide-open front door. Talk about taking in the local atmosphere!  

The hot habanero peppers and lime juice were obviously fused into the fresh apple sauce-like topping (see above). Think of it as a kicked-up version of the old 60’s standby pork chops & apple sauce. The slow-braised pork was really moist and juicy, so I had to refrain from slurping up all the leftover liquid in the bottom of my cardboard “taco boat.” I’m still not sure where the avocado was hiding.  Anyone? Bueller??? 

The view from my picnic table – looking east on Fairhope Ave.  

OK, here’s a closer look at the Kung Pao Chicken (above) with carrot and daikon. Daikon (which is actually misspelled on the Dragonfly menu) is sometimes known as a white radish or Japanese radish. It doesn’t pack much flavor. It does impart some nice crunch.  The chicken was lean, the Chinese spice on point, and the flour tortilla fresh & warm.

We think you will soon be mysteriously drawn to the Dragonfly Food Bar. It’s hip, quirky, and creative. The decor is (like yours truly) a blend of retro and contemporary. Their tacos are mighty fine. Can’t wait to sink my teeth in the Lobster Corn Dog ($12) too. And the Crispy Blue Cheese Olives with Vodka Remoulade ($6). It ain’t cheap, folks. And it sure ain’t Taco Bell — or even Los Tacos. So check your cheap a$$, fast food mentality at the front door, please. You get what you pay for, people — and you’ll get a lot at the Dragonfly. But don’t just take my word for it. Swing on by sometime and take a swat for yourself.

Dragonfly Food Bar – 319 Fairhope Ave., Fairhope – 251 990-5722

www.dragonflyfoodbar.com

Is The Biscuit King’s Reign in Peril?

3 Jul

It’s the Fourth of July weekend. I woke up on Saturday morning and wanted to do something beyond cereal for breakfast. It had been a long while since we had paid homage to Fairhope’s Biscuit King, so I shook my youngest son Travis out of bed and we promptly motored south on AL State Highway 98. This sign (above) is seen at the intersection of Highway 98 and Highway 24. I never really bought into the “Best Lunch” claim, but did recall that “The King” made a mighty fine biscuit. They are located in the boondocks among the cornfields of South Baldwin County. Its clientele is a mix of simple country folk and tourists passing through on their way to the coast.

This portable sign announces The King’s daily “LUNCH PECIAL” pricing.

This sad looking pooch is the unofficial mascot — greeting folks out front.

T-Shirts sell for just $10. Never knew the kingdom extended to Virginia!

Rural clientele inside Biscuit King. Overalls and mesh hats abound.

The cheddar-encrusted Ultimate “Ugly Biscuit” – The King’s signature item.

Treasures lay inside the “Ugly Biscuit” – cheese, eggs, pepperoni, & sausage

The biscuits (priced at about $2.50 each) this go around were good – not great. Certainly not worthy of a throne and crown. Yes, I’ve had a better biscuit in my day. Come to think of it, I’ve had better biscuits right here at Biscuit King. The service was incredibly slow too (about a 30-minute wait for 4 biscuits). It appeared that the kitchen was being run by the same folks managing the BP oil spill cleanup. Chaotic? For sure. Sluggish? You know it. No urgency? Uh, yeah. If you’re gonna make the trip, I would strongly urge you to call ahead to place your order … especially on Saturdays!

So is the Biscuit King’s kingdom in peril? I would have to say it is. There is surely an opportunity for someone else to step up and do it all better. In doing so, that lucky person could seize the butter-coated scepter that has apparently gathered some dust over the past couple years.

Thanks for the memories, Biscuit King. It may be time for me to turn the page and move on to the next big thing. Your long reign, in this humble servant’s mind, may be history.

Joe’s Fabulicious Homemade Ice Cream in Fairhope, AL

5 Jun

We stumbled upon this new wonder on the way to the Fairhope Wal-Mart located near the intersection of Routes 104 and 181. Sadly, it was only 10 am on Saturday and Joe doesn’t start his day until 11:30. Not to be denied, we made a pact to return after lunch for our first taste.

Following lunch, I somehow decided it was a good idea to mow the lawn as well as take the weedeater around our entire property — in 90 degree heat and sweltering humidity. Yeah, I know, DUMB! Yet there was a method to my madness. I was working up an appetite  for something cool and creamy. Follow me?

We learned upon arrival that Joe’s has only been open about 3 days. In fact, they are so new they have not yet decided on their hours of operation. That will be determined after gauging business activity over the first week or two. Joe, an older gentleman originally from Ohio, makes all the ice cream using his mother’s own recipe. He hired a very friendly Alabama lady (a former manager at the Fairhope Burger King) to run the day to day operation.

The manager seemed to be fretting a bit about how slow business had been all day. But the cars literally started pouring in shortly after our arrival. Not sure what that was all about. Anyway, we were happy to see the gravel lot filling and the line forming at the the front of the trailer. My two boys got a small chocolate cone, while I called for a small vanilla cone. Asking for a small cone turned out to be a mistake for me — I needed more. So without an ounce of guilt, I got back in line and ordered a small chocolate cone. Strictly for the blog write-up, I explained. The kind lady simply grinned, took my $2 (cash only here), and rendered another scoop of that homemade heaven on a cone.

I really hope they make a go of it here. The ice cream is really fine. No oils, no guar gum, no nasty aftertaste. Just good, fresh, wholesome All-American homemade ice cream like you remember from picnics and family reunions of days gone by.

So if you’re living in the Baldwin County area or just passing through on your way to the Gulf Coast, please stop in and order up a double scoop on a freshly made waffle cone. Or perhaps one of Joe’s highly touted shakes or sundaes. But eat fast, friends. It’s hot as the dickens down here and homemade ice cream has a way of melting quickly. It’s a race against the clock, but a race you can’t help but win!

Fairhope’s Viper BBQ Sauce Delivers a Bite

24 Apr

 

We first spotted locally made Viper BBQ sauce at Hazel’s Farm market on Route 98. We later saw it at the nearby Allegri Market. And then ran into them at the Baldwin County Strawberry Festival. These guys were everywhere! Something must be going on here, I thought.

I reached out to Viper founder Kim Mayfield and he was a very nice dude — not a snake at all. In fact, Kim offered to deliver some product samples to our doorstep. Mighty hospitable of him! The care package included 3 different varieties of sauce (Mild, “Sweet No Heat” and Original Spicy). It also contained a BBQ spice rub (you can really taste the brown sugar) and an Asian spice blend (nice cumin aroma). Interesting, huh?

The first sauce we sampled was the Sweet No Heat. Really nice — and smoky — and very sticky. Betcha this stuff would be killer with chicken breasts on the charcoal grill. Gonna try that out real soon! The Mild sauce (our favorite of the 3) was a bit of a misnomer — it was terrific, but not as mild as you might expect. It brings a subtle peppery kick on the back end. The Original Spicy is indeed spicy, but not overly so. Hey, their mascot’s a venomous serpent for crying out loud — it’s gonna bite ya a little bit.

We support locally made, small batch foods and encourage you to do the same. Variety after all, as they say, is the spice of life. Don’t fear the viper!  

Welcome to the Mayfield family, home of the Viper Sauce Barbecue line of gourmet products. Our founder, Kim Mayfield, started five years ago experimenting with making a good barbecue sauce for our family. We love to entertain and cook for our family and friends, so buying an off-the-shelf barbecue sauce was not an option. It wasn’t long before our friends all said, “this is the best barbecue sauce we have ever had, you should sell this!” He started by creating our original spicy sauce, which today is still our number one best selling sauce.

Since then he has developed an additional two sauces, mild and sweet no-heat and a line of dry rubs, one which is original spicy and the second an exotic blend of asian spices called our Asian Viper Rub. The Asian Viper Rub was born as a result of a trip to China, where we experienced some of the best food and spices we had ever had. He along with an interpreter searched through the Chinese market places to find the exact spice blend and brought them back to our home and began blending what is today one of the best rubs for chicken, beef, wild game and seafood. His search for the best spices, all-natural and quality products is the secret to our success.

Viper’s Kim Mayfield with Chef Guy Fieri

We also have developed the only “dry pack” gourmet barbecue sauce we know of. By packaging the wet and dry ingredients for you, you can cook your own barbecue sauce in your home in just 5 minutes. You can also tailor it so that you can make it just how you like it with more cayenne, black pepper or a substitute sugar product if you are a diabetic. We have many diabetic customers who tell us, “it is just as good with a brown sugar substitute.” Many of our customers also use our sauces as marinades, salad dressing and dipping sauces. Today, our customers include restaurants, professional barbecue cooking teams, wild game extraordinaires and gourmet barbecue enthusiasts. Beware, we have been accused of putting crack cocaine in our sauces, because once you try it, it is addictive!

Viper’s BBQ Rub

We are honored that you have visited our website. We hope you will too become a Viper Sauce fanatic. We welcome your feedback, testimonies and recipe ideas so that we can share them with others through our website and Facebook Fan page at Viper Sauce BBQ Sauce.

From our family to yours, Happy Barbecuing!