If you don’t like the weather here, then wait about an hour. Spring teased us for a couple of days and flip-flops found their way from the back of the closet and wedged themselves between my toes. I made a smallish pot of mudbugs as a trial run for what I hope to be a glorious season of tail pinching and head sucking, complemented by beer swilling and storytelling.
I could feel fresh, homegrown tomatoes would be on our plates in no time as the winter cabbage was cooked down with onions and venison sausage and the pinot noir gave way to less earthy grapes … not that I’ll turn one down any day of the year.
This change of pace from a mild winter of sweaters to short sleeves was not very abrupt and then suddenly temps dipped back into the 30-somethings. It was back to bundling up in the mornings and losing the flip-flops in favor of Wallabies.
My desire for a spring bounty receded as I pondered what we normally refer to as “comfort food.”
When you think of places in Mobile to enjoy a “meat and two” meal, what comes to mind? For many the answer is Judy’s Place on Government Boulevard, just past Azalea heading west. People go head over heels for this restaurant and I, ashamedly, have never been. Spoiler alert: I went and will be returning soon.
Every now and again it’s a good idea to bring the bosses along for a review. This day I figured it best to bring both of them as Ashley and Rob made the ZIP code-jumping run to meet me at Judy’s. I got there first and found not a single table open at 11:30 a.m. Others in line gave up on the wait and headed next door to Lenny’s, but I stood fast as the hero of the day, waiting patiently for a table of four to choke down their meatloaf and sweet teas so they could return to jobs less glamorous than mine.
Not long after I was seated I heard the honking horn of a parking lot squabble, followed by the two Lagniappe higher-ups entering the building. Of course they were involved. These are my people. So we sat down for an unsweet or two and a handful of menus.
The place being standing room only was a testament for what we were about to receive. This place is as unpretentious as you can get with an open dining room and a bar that didn’t look like it was serving many drinks. They pack the customers in tight, so don’t get the feeling you’ll be coming here to share any secrets. You will be pretty cozy with your neighbors but the upside of that is you get a pretty decent visual of every meal in your section.
I was salivating over the sights and smells around our four-top. The previously mentioned meatloaf looked fantastic. The chalky, large white limas, macaroni and cheese, smothered hamburger steaks and sandwiches seemed to leave everyone else satisfied so I knew it would be a good day.
Lunch at Judy’s Place is pretty straightforward. There are no appetizers per se, so we ordered a round of chicken wings ($6.99 per half dozen).
“Do you want them plain or dressed?” asked our waitress. Dressed would be battered, by the way. We chose plain, hot, with bleu cheese on the side. Not overdone and not undercooked, these were tasty wings I’d consider above average in the snack category. Equal flapper to drummette ratio (I prefer the flappers, Rob and Ash went straight for the drummettes), I found them quite enjoyable for cafe wings. The bleu cheese dressing was remarkable. We were off to a good start.
Compared to Rob and me, Ashley walks that fine line between a tough carnivore and a delicate flower. Her perfect lunch was a grilled steak salad ($9.99). It wasn’t a salad for the meek. This pretty sizable bed of lettuce supported a good deal of meat, and the same bleu cheese dressing enhanced the meal.
Compared to Ashley and me, Rob walks that fine line between an angry pescatarian and a vegetable-murdering herbivore. But only at lunch. Fried oysters ($9.99) were his game today. They didn’t look like much, with only a half dozen on the plate, but they were tasty. A side of green limas and the substitution of a salad were almost more than he could handle. In the end he finished honorably with little bleu cheese to spare.
It is worth noting that bleu cheese is the preferred dressing of Lagniappe staffers (the cool ones, anyway), so when we find an exceptional version we run with it.
I, of course, dared to be different with the lunch favorite pork chops ($8.99). Fried or grilled? I chose grilled and was treated to two healthy-sized chops, bone in, with just the right amount of seasoning. You can’t have these without mashed potatoes and gravy. I couldn’t resist the green limas after seeing Rob’s. A little hot sauce on the beans, a dip of each piece of meat into the potatoes and my dining companions knew to get out of my way.
Not one of us saved room for dessert, although Judy’s offers cheesecake, lemon pie, French silk pie and, on occasion, banana pudding.
The dinner menu at Judy’s Place is a bit different, with filet and ribeye steaks, heavy seafood options and nearly a dozen appetizers, all served after 5 p.m. For a complete view of both menus visit www.judysplacemobile.com.
I believe the three of us agreed we’d had a very good lunch. It was comfort food, at least by my standards. The price is nice, the portions are good, the quality keeps people in seats. We exited the building with the sun shining as in unison we put on our sunglasses and lost our jackets. The Alabama spring was teasing us again.
4045 Government Blvd.