Cozy Brown’s Kitchen • 847 Wasson Ave. • Whistler, AL 36612
Sometimes you just have to get dirty. I mean you’ve got to get to the heart of what is good and greasy, probably terrible for you, not at all on the way home, at a place that’s established yet new to you. Bonus points if the food is out of your comfort zone.
I had the golden opportunity on Veterans Day to take the tween, Graham, on a weekday school-skipping breakfast. He’s pretty open-minded about food, and we don’t have a problem getting into the trenches together when duty calls. I thought he was the perfect road companion for an early morning visit (my first ever) to Cozy Brown’s Kitchen.
I told the boy where we were headed and what I expected of the trip. I explained they probably won’t have avocado toast or honey. He had more faith in Cozy, and was willing to bet on it. The wager was a Kit Kat or an Almond Joy left over from Halloween.
The address reads Whistler, Alabama, but we considered it Prichard, just off the interstate on U.S. Hwy. 45 past the Popeyes and the Intracoastal Carwash. The parking lot was odd to navigate, the building was a bit run down, but this was exactly what we needed. Inside we found a painted menu on the wall and a line of friendly people ordering cafeteria-style on the right. The small number of tables suggested most will order to go, so we prepared to enjoy ours at MacDonald Manor.
I swear a tear came to my eye when Graham looked at me and said, “Hey, Dad, can we have chicken wings for breakfast?” Just when you think they don’t pay attention, that all you do and say goes unnoticed, a young man not yet aged 12 will melt your heart. It was as if he had taken his old man by the hand and said, “I’ve been listening.”
The woman working the line assured me it was alright ordering off the menu this early, and handed me a numbered ticket to claim our prize as she filled the rest of our order from the hot bar. My Running Club member and soccer star can burn the fuel, so he was piling it up. Pointing and asking questions, he created a pretty big plate of an undetermined but substantial weight.
At one point I overheard him say, “That ham looks good.” “It’s fried bologna,” replied our server. “OK, I’ll take it.” What’s gotten into this kid?
Our only annoyance other than the squeaking of the Styrofoam as we headed south on I-65 was the lack of drink options. It’s 8 a.m. and there’s no coffee. None. Not a pot, not a scent, not a hope. The only choices were Donald Duck orange juice (which I like), sweet tea or Kool-Aid. I’ve been up longer than the sun, but it’s still early for both of us. I need a touch of caffeine and nothing sweet. We left there dry.
At home, we opened three clamshells full of food and poured two tall ice waters. Adjacent to one another at the corner of our dining table, we first shared the wings. Three to an order, this is the whole wing, not separated into flappers and drummettes. The batter was perfect. It’s more like fish batter, a little cornmeal with the flour, and the seasoning was just right. It’s fried chicken at its finest and reminded me of my favorite Mississippi fried chicken in Waynesboro, oddly also just off Highway 45. Excellent job!
In Graham’s plate, we found a huge load of cheese grits, thick and yellow, topped with scrambled eggs. There were a few pieces of bologna, greasy and fried pink. It turns out Graham doesn’t like bologna. He’s only had it on sandwiches, but by itself wasn’t his thing. Next to the bologna were hot links, possibly our locally made Hall’s, but I’m not sure. Those were for Dad. The accompanying biscuit was really flaky and soft, as it should be.
The final plate, deemed mine, had white grits with shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top. In the entree section, there were close to a dozen oysters and a sizable piece of catfish. Fried just right, the fish and oysters were crunchy but not overdone. The oysters, I found, were a bit on the salty side. By themselves, they were too much, but in a little ketchup (I was out of horseradish, don’t judge) I didn’t notice the saltiness nearly as much.
As with meals of this nature, the trend is to have too much food. Sure, we ordered big, but we didn’t bank on the portions. We left a good bit in the containers, but not a morsel of chicken. It was enough to take us out of our comfort zone. Bonus points!
Cozy Brown’s opens at 6 a.m. every day of the week, but it’s more than breakfast. There’s lunch and dinner, usually wrapping up at 7 p.m., an hour later on Friday and Saturday, an hour earlier on Sunday. Expect a menu full of fried seafood possibilities as well as soul food specials. Maybe I’ll try the Kool-Aid on a lunch date.
We got down and dirty. We got good and greasy. We went out of our way to find food that was in no way healthy for us, in a place that has the ambiance of a 1970s American Legion storage room, and we had fun doing it. At least Graham knew what he thought he wanted, and he was about half right. Thunderpuss and I were stuck with the rest of the bologna, and I overate fish and grits.
This was a father and son outing, just guys, testing the waters and growing up a little. I hope it was a trip Graham won’t soon forget.
You know what I didn’t forget? There was no avocado toast. You owe me a candy bar, Son.
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