Tag Archives: Southern Style Food

Knock You Nekkid

A few weeks ago we posted a regretful note to our friends over at Cool Beans. The note lamented the extraordinarily high price of their coconut and sour cream cupcakes, with particular attention devoted to what seemed to us like a lopsided price-to-cupcake mass ratio. Still, we do sometimes need to get our sugar fix in Downtown Montgomery. We have in the past gone so far as to eat the blindingly-hued red velvet and key lime cakes they used to serve on tiny styrofoam plates at Bama Bistro. We’re not sure if they still sell those, as that restaurant never seems to be open when we walk by it.

We have found a new deal (not in the FDR sense). In addition to serving vegetables, meats, and gooey gooey pastas for lunch, the Troy University (Montgomery campus) cafeteria sells dessert. It varies day to day, but on the day we were there to purchase sweet tea, we saw down the line that an imposing woman was yelling something incomprehensible about a tray of cake.

As we got closer, we realized she was saying “Knock you nekkid!” We were not sure if this was a threat or some horribly misguided marketing policy, but she explained that this was simply the name of the cake. It was, evidently, so good that it would forcibly remove our clothes.

Because the cake’s white frosting was covered with crushed-up pieces of Butterfinger candy bars and it was described as having a caramel center, we considered that this was possible. And we ponied up for a half slice that was big enough all on its own to come with an insulin prescription. Only 99 cents! And as a half-piece, it might result in us only being partially disrobed! If Downtown’s various eateries have a better deal than this, I’d like to see it.

You may be asking whether clothing was, in fact, knocked off when we consumed this preposterously sweet item. To which we say, what’s wrong with you? The Internet is one place where nudity is not allowed.

The Yellow Hammer — Waverly, Alabama

Some towns are so tiny, you can’t believe they exist. Waverly, Alabama, is one such town.

But the marvel at Waverly’s small size soon becomes sheer disbelief that this rural outpost (somewhat near Auburn) appears to be largely populated by super cool individuals. I first discovered Waverly, when my cousin, who runs an organic farm in South Alabama, asked if I wanted to ride along with him to go and pick up some silk screened farm bags for CSA veggie deliveries. We cruised through rural scenery before pulling up at a warehouse that turned out to be owned by a guy who not only ran an amazing printing business, Standard Deluxe, but also seemed to be a rural hipster visionary of sorts. He had tales of punk rock and reggae tours and victories over evil road building developers. Certainly not what I was expecting in rural east Alabama.

So I found myself back in Waverly recently for Standard Deluxe’s 17th Anniversary party. Southern Culture on the Skids made mad music. But before the show, food was needed. We stopped into a brick warehouse called The Yellow Hammer. We expected a meat and three type of joint. We were thinking we’d pick the pork out of our collards and get nice and full for 7 or 8 bucks and then go see a concert out in the country. Wrong.

Turns out, The Yellow Hammer is a world class restaurant. I don’t use that term lightly. I have had high end seafood in metropolitan coastal cities around the world. I won’t say that The Yellow Hammer was as good (or as swanky) as this place (one of my favorites), but it’s on that level of top-tier chef and freshness action. Whatever glimmer of distance exists between The Yellow Hammer and the first rate restaurants of New York or Tokyo is made up for by the utter shock (and delight) I felt at discovering a white tablecloth place in Waverly. Add to that the fact that the chef tries to give the dishes a local angle. For example, the Hawaiian fish came on a bed of pureed butternut squash. The cod came with collards. True Alabama flavors. And the menu changes daily.

I will admit that there are some drawbacks to expecting a “meat and three” and instead discovering a place with a primo wine list. For one, I felt under-dressed. For another, I dropped $80 where I was expecting to spend $20. These aren’t good economic times for those kinds of surprises. But still, they were kind enough to seat us without a reservation, which is key because they were booked up on a Saturday night. I could totally understand that all of the rich folks from miles around make the trek out to this rural oasis.

The capper on the meal was the ice cream. We are big fans of the “100 Alabama things to eat before you die” list. You can see it here (pdf). The honeysuckle ice cream is on that list. And it should be. It came with two other flavors (elderberry and something else) and they were mind-searingly good.

Later that evening, we ended up meeting the people who live next door to the restaurant and they said that the honeysuckle flavors were distilled from flowers in their back yard. Can’t get much more local than that. Or Southern. Or awesome.

Waverly. Yellow Hammer. Euphoria.

Donnie’s Home Cooking

Update: We regret to inform you, dear reader, that Donnie’s Home Cooking is no more. In its place appears to be a new buffet of some sort, with the name Thomas’ on the sign. We will review it as soon as possible and let you know how it holds up to the high standards set by Donnie’s. This post will remain up as a memorial to the fine food experiences we once had at Donnie’s.

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Oh Donnie’s, sweet Donnie’s.

It is a beacon of light among the vast wastelands of the Eastern Boulevard.

We are huge fans of the “meat and three” genre of restaurants. Thus, we were lured into Donnie’s by the “Home Cooking” portion of the sign. We were captivated.

In what used to be a Tony Roma’s is now an amazing buffet. It’s cheap. It’s great. And it’s possibly our favorite restaurant in the city of Montgomery. There’s no trick to it. You go in, sit down, tell the waitress that you want the buffet and you get started.

Obviously, we can’t speak to the meat items on the buffet, but every single veggie option is outstanding. They’ve got the basics: black-eyed peas, green beans, mashed potatoes. They’ve got our favorite items: turnip greens and fried okra. They’ve even got some more rare items: fried sweet corn nuggets and homemade ‘chow chow.’ There’s not a single mediocre item in the mix.

The food is crisp, regularly re-filled, and lacks the soggy heat lamp effect that plagues so many buffets.

There’s a huge salad bar and also a wide variety of dessert items, but we rarely bother with those. We skip the salad to dive right into the hot items when we arrive and by the time we are done gorging, there’s precious little room for dessert (although we have sampled the banana pudding — soupy but good).

They have tea and lemonade drink options and you can get out of there for about $7 in total. Each time we have been there, we have left a sizable tip, not just because it’s good to tip out the person who re-fills your glass, but because we have been so happy that it just seems right to leave an extra dollar or two on the table.

Turns out that Donnie’s is the second restaurant by the same name. The original Donnie’s is in Atlanta. We don’t know why they decided to branch into Montgomery, but we are really, really glad that they did. If only every Tony Roma’s could close down and re-open as such a Mecca.