OK, so it’s probably obvious: I love a good meat-and-three. The food’s almost always solid, and there’s usually a mac and cheese option. And when I heard that the owners of the iconic Irondale Cafe (think Fannie Flagg’s inspiration for “Fried Green Tomatoes”) had opened a restaurant in Hoover, I was all in.
And apparently, I’m not the only one. When Dudefriend and I arrived around 1 p.m. on a Saturday, the place was packed. Seven people were in line in front of us, and no tables were available inside the ample dining space. (A few remained in front of the restaurant, but we wanted as far away from the 100-degree heat as possible). But in the few minutes that we perused the day’s menu (among the options: chicken pot pie, buttermilk chicken, country-fried steak and baked chicken), we were at the front of the line. After the courteous and very helpful cashier took our order, our food came out one minute later. That’s right: One minute. You can’t get quicker service at a fast-food chain.
Luckily, a table had cleared off by then, and we were able to survey our grub. (Fried Green Tomato’s gives nice, Southern-sized portions, but not so much that you feel the need to take a nap under the table.) And man, the mac and cheese looked legit. There was lots of cheese and infinite creaminess. Best of all, there were breadcrumbs (cornbread, to be exact) splayed across the noodles — a detail I definitely appreciate.
But did it taste as good as it looks? Fortunately, yes. The noodles were warm and you could taste bursts of Cheddar. And the breadcrumbs balanced the creaminess of the sauce, making the mac taste much lighter than it actually was.
I had plenty of delicious food in front of me (your grandma will want the recipe for the fried buttermilk chicken tenders because they’re even better than hers), but I kept going back to the mac. Forget about the fried green tomatoes: the mac is king here.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Should you order it? Yes