Photo | Daniel Anderson / Lagniappe

Crawfish bennys, chicken and waffles, french toast and omelets are often on the
Sunday Brunch menu at The Blind Mule.

The Blind Mule • 57 N. Claiborne St., Mobile 36602 • 251-694-6853

Brunch is a serious Port City event. You may see friends almost come to blows over the subject. Don’t say you’ve not heard the jabs. “This place is great,” may be combated with “Yeah, if you like hot garbage with a side of food poisoning. My favorite brunch is  … ” You’ve been there. It’s like competitive restaurant selection. This town can be a bit, shall we say, territorial on Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

Gone-but-not-forgotten Café 615 was one of the hottest brunches in town and even it had a few detractors. I’m certain the naysayers of all these places have their comments rooted in some opinionated nugget of truth or perspective, but you can bet that in Mobile, Alabama, any place open for brunch for more than a couple of years will have something on its menu that is drawing a crowd.

We have restaurant chains with decent brunches. Local faves such as Callaghan’s, The Noble South, Panini Pete’s, Spot of Tea, Southern National and Five Bar (I don’t consider it a chain) are killing it. Even Butch Cassidy’s has recently become a formidable opponent in the competitive world of brunching. I’m not even including the places with breakfast every day, like Bob’s Downtown and the hotel breakfasts. You have plenty of choices, but one oft forgotten (by my family) is one of the best. I’m talking about The Blind Mule.

I don’t know what it was last Sunday that jarred my memory. It’s been a couple of years since I darkened The Mule’s doorstep, but when Katie’s parents came to town we felt like showing them to a good brunch, something they don’t regularly find in their hometown of Sandersville. The Free State of Jones is known for many incredible things, but good brunch is not one of them.

All six and a half of us piled into two cars, leaving the dogs behind, and made it to The Mule five minutes before the 11 a.m. opening. The parking lot was almost full and folks were lined up at the door. Good sign. In a couple of minutes we sat in the sunny courtyard with an umbrella providing almost enough shade and a bustling crowd of people around us.

The boys had orange juice while the rest of us had water. Katie’s father, Henry, a true gentleman if ever there were, broke the ice by ordering a bloody mary. That opened the door for me to have a beer. Katie and her mother, Carol, behaved as our Southern belles and abstained in case Henry and I got out of hand, but we had no such luck in ordering a second. The food was too good.

My 13-year-old, Lucas, ordered a dish called The Hangover ($11) despite having a good night’s rest after an early evening. A pancake made with Conecuh sausage in the batter was topped with an over-medium egg and a side of bacon. His first experience with a hangover was great. He’s going to be disappointed when he encounters the real thing.

Graham wanted Chicken and Pancakes ($11). Dill-brined chicken (something I often do at home) was served with chipotle honey sauce over a short stack. I should have asked for no sauce or the chicken on the side, because it was a little overbearing for the little guy, but I scraped the sauce off and he took down the pancakes with syrup as the rest of the table shared his chicken.

Remember when Shrimp and Grits ($10 half order) made its way to almost every restaurant in Mobile? The Blind Mule was one of the first in this city to nurture the dish’s popularity. Mr. Henry Davis had to take them for a spin. Bell peppers, onions and, of course, Conecuh accompanied the shrimp. It’s their special sauce that makes them so good. His only complaint was that he didn’t get the full order for $5 more.

His daughter celebrated her maiden voyage to The Blind Mule with the Cajun Breakfast ($12). Two eggs with breakfast potatoes and boudin, some cased and some loose, were drizzled with a bit of hollandaise. I loved the boudin but it was no match for Mother Carol’s Crawfish Bennys ($12). This is The Mule’s nod to eggs Benedict. The English muffin is topped with fried green tomatoes, a fried egg and delicious crawfish and Conecuh cream sauce. My one bite was savory and creamy. It’s a good signature dish.

You’re probably starving right now reading this, but we aren’t done. I had the best Corned Beef Hash ($12) in the city. A huge serving of thick chopped corned beef with the potatoes had me glued to my seat. My eyes didn’t wander to the other plates too much as they usually do. A little Tabasco sauce perfected this nearly flawless dish. After a long walk that morning, this bowl of protein and carbs was exactly what I needed, and now I don’t know if I can eat corned beef hash without drinking a beer again. It’s almost as good as morning beer and raw oysters.

Let’s talk about service. There were two waitresses serving this courtyard as well as inside. Pun intended, they had their hands full. I was impressed by the crowd, the speed of the kitchen and the expertise of the service. Teamwork made it seamless and I saw nothing but smiling faces in the seats.

I won’t be forgetting this brunch anytime soon. If you’re a brunch junkie and have yet to check them out, it looks as if the main rush is when the doors open. I could be wrong. At any rate, the service seems fast enough that tables can turn quickly.

I know, I know, you have your favorites, too, and I’m sure to have forgotten a quality brunch spot. You will definitely let me hear about it. But today is all about The Blind Mule.