Photos | facebook.com/StoneysBarbque
429 Saraland Blvd. N.
Saraland, AL 36571
I’ve been behaving myself. I haven’t had much to drink over the past few weeks. I have limited my carb intake. I have done my best to get in that magic number of 10,000 steps, which puts you on the path to surefire physical fitness. It’s working, and by that I mean I’m losing weight, and I’m not overly dissatisfied with my lifestyle at the moment.
I’m trying to get below a certain number by Thanksgiving to have room for an extra helping. We are having two Thanksgiving meals this year (an unprecedented amount of thankfulness for that, of course), lunch at my mom’s and supper at Katie’s mom’s. I predict them to be similar enough to bear the name of Thanksgiving meals, but different enough to stay interesting. I’m in charge of the birds for both locations.
So, leading up to the glorious day, I’ve been trying not to spoil my dinner, so to speak. I’ve usually turned my palate toward Asian food, or anything that doesn’t resemble that which I’m about to take in by the shovel loads, but this week I found a step away from turkey and dressing at Stoney’s BBQ.
I often forget the treasures Saraland offers, but I was alerted by a friend to this spot, so away I went for a lunch meeting with my pal Pinky. We had business to discuss and it wasn’t going to be over soup and salad.
Barbecue is something most of us fight over, but there is a pleasing feeling to trying out a new style. You see some pitmasters place more importance on the smoke (rightfully), while others focus on the sauce. Perhaps a dry brine or a marinade takes precedence. Whichever, there is no saying one barbecue is the king of all barbecues. You can only have your favorite in each style.
In the open floor plan of Stoney’s, in a booth next to my old friend Chris Nelson who happened to be there, Pinky drew first blood and ordered a pulled pork sandwich ($4.99). Straight up, no sides, the pork was free from too much fat and had a mellow smokiness to it. The sauce in the squirt bottle on the table was a touch sweet, and the sandwich was a good yardstick to measure what was coming next.
With a sandwich pretty much as an appetizer, we dove into the more serious side of the menu. The half smoked chicken ($11.99) seemed like an obvious choice for a carb-lover on the wagon. When I used the word “half,” I was talking about the chicken. There was nothing halfway about the smoke. We got a much better sense of the wood in the yardbird. As juicy as can be, the chicken was, if anything, slightly underdone, but done enough for safety’s sake. I hate an over-cooked chicken. I loved this one, barely reaching for the sauce.
I wanted turnip greens as one of the two sides that came with my order, but they were out. A side salad would do fine with a little ranch, but my splurge for the day was the fried okra. These weren’t the super-breaded flour wads you find in low-rent buffets. These were the real deal. If okra looks like fried cheesecake, I don’t want it. You need to see what you’re eating. Nice job.
The greater Mobile area is a little bereft when it comes to catfish. You have to search for it. I was a touch suspicious when I saw it on the menu, but catfish fillets ($13.99) were going to be on my table no matter what. The large fillets (I prefer whole, but not complaining) were fried perfectly crispy in a good cornmeal batter that proves these guys are good at more than just barbecue. It was catfish-house worthy. Also, the hush puppies and onion rings were near perfect. Whoever was running the fryer that day deserves a raise. Don’t think for a second that person cannot make or break a meal.
The other side we chose was potato salad. It was Pinky’s choice, and though I was really delicate with all of these carbs, I had to sample. It reminded me a lot of my grandmother’s potato salad and could have been spot-on with the addition of a jar or two of pimientos. Impressive.
I left with a box of barely touched fried leftovers and a banana pudding ($3.25) to take home to baby Henry. I’d reached my limit on carbs for the week, but am told it was really good.
I think we have found a pretty cool lunch spot in the Yankee town of Saraland. The place was super clean and the staff seemed knowledgeable and friendly. I’ll be back when I get the urge for a change of scenery. Every item was good, if not spectacular. I need to try the ribs and the ribeye, so I’ve got reasons to find my way there soon. The drive was two turns from the interstate and maybe 15 minutes from my house.
Thanks, Stoney’s. You do good work.
Arabelle Food does the Thanksgiving side work for you
Want to ease your Thanksgiving woes? Arabelle of Mobile can help you with soups, sides, apps and desserts. Work smarter, not harder, by letting them do the work for you. We don’t consider it cheating. Candied jalapeno cheese squares, gumbo, cranberry sauce, casseroles, dressing, pies and more are just a click or phone call away.
Orders must be placed by Thursday, Nov. 19 before noon, so place yours by calling 646-263-4009 or emailing Sheridan@ArabelleFood.com. Pickup will be Tuesday, Nov. 24 and Wednesday, Nov. 25 at All Saints Episcopal Church (151 S. Ann St., Mobile).
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