Thursday, May 28, 2009


We left Chattanooga on Sunday, May 10 and headed for the beach. The drive from Chattanooga to Grayton Beach takes you past Birmingham and Montgomery and then through some small towns in southern Alabama. We made pretty good time, fortified by our wonderful breakfast by the lake, courtesy of

Lookout Lake Bed and Breakfast

hunger was not an issue. Bylinda contented herself by snapping pictures with our new Canon Rebel...

and I made sure that the car stayed in the lanes and negotiated the occasional driving challenge. After we left Montgomery, I began to think that we should think about lunch and we began to see signs for Annie's.

I think initially, as we rolled past several 'Discount Groceries', we were treating the 'Annies' signs as part of the local scenery. The signs advertise BBQ, Fried Chicken, Catfish and Vegetables. They are plain, maybe homey would be a good word, and you know from the sign that the 'cocktail du Maison' is going to be Sweet Tea. As we got closer to Luverne, AL, I was getting more interested and I could tell that Bylinda was too. We both wondered aloud about our chances of getting into a sit-down restaurant on Mother's Day but we were curious.
Even upon entering Luverne no decision had been made but I could tell from her face that Bylinda agreed with my decision when I turned into the lot. Annie's is unassuming, a low brown building that shares a parking lot with an antique store but the aroma was fantastic. You could smell the smoke from the BBQ pit and you did not need a sign to tell you that there would be fried chicken available. We hurried in, eager to try out some specialities. There was one group of four waiting ahead of us, so we settled down for a short wait.

Annie's is not fancy,

a bench just inside the front door is the waiting area and the decorations were pictures colored by children. There was no list but Annie's is the type of place where the guests can just sort that out for themselves and I bet no one cheats. The manger found us a small table in the middle of the dining room and we quickly ordered. Catfish, fries and slaw for Bylinda,

while I went for Fried Chicken, fried okra, and slaw.

After a few minutes a table in the corner opened up and the manager let us move there, although I was content to keep center stage.

As an aside, I have spent many years working in restaurants and know from experience that when diners relocate, accidents can happen. Sure enough, the first server thought that we would be taken care of by the server who had the section we moved to, while the server in our new section thought that the original server would keep us. Not being terribly thirsty and having plenty to discuss, we really did not notice that our food had been delayed but just as I was thinking lunch should be appearing, the manager headed to our table and let us know that it would be just a few minutes on our order. We were not in a hurry and are pretty easygoing so we were not worried but it was very nice of the manager to make sure we were taken care of. After three or four minutes, our food was delivered and I think that we knew right away that the wait had been worthwhile. As soon as I bit into the chicken, I was secretly looking to get out of my promise to share with Bylinda, only the smell of her catfish held me to my word. I dipped in to my slaw and it was good but then I tried the okra...

...I was born and raised in the Midwest, so okra did not come naturally. It was found in soup, if at all and I'm sure that the first time had fried okra was at the Cracker Barrel. Since moving to the South, I have developed a fondness for fried okra but after eating the okra at Annie's, I think that I might not be able to order okra anywhere else. The okra was still crisp, served nice and hot and the breading was fantastic, I've not had better.

Across the table Bylinda had made a great discovery of her own, homemade tarter sauce.

Those of you who know Bylinda may be aware of this already, but one of her passions is mayonnaise. I'm sure they used her favorite, Hellman's, in the tartar sauce and of course there were pickles, I could not begin to guess the other ingredients but Bylinda was hooked. We were both in heaven!

After we got some proof to show our friends, we settled in for some serious eating, Bylinda kept telling me that everything was just like her mamaw cooked and the only thing that slowed us down was breaking to pepper the manager with questions. It turned out that she was the owner but not Annie. She had purchased the restaurant but kept as much of the staff as she could, several members of the kitchen staff had been there 30+ years. The owner insisted that we have dessert and although we tried to decline, fried cheesecake was soon on the table.

I'm not a huge cheesecake fan but this dessert was off the charts, two large pieces of cheesecake battered and fried served with ice cream, strawberries, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. We were ready to stay there for our honeymoon. From beginning to end the meal was delicious. We posed for a picture out front and after trying to pay, the offer was refused, we were back on the road.

If you ever find yourself in Luverne, Alabama around meal time, stop by Annie's, you won't be sorry. If it is not meal time, maybe you should just hunker down and wait.

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