Grandmother’s House

27 Oct 2011
Average Cost ($8-$14)
Jones Valley/Hampton Cove
2 out of 5

Grandmother's House

Melanie’s Take

I think most southerners would say the best food they’ve ever had was at their grandmother’s house. For many of us, our grandmothers make dishes that we can never replicate, even with their recipes. When some friends invited us to give a restaurant called Grandmother’s House a try, my mind immediately thought of home-cooked goodness that left you begging for more. With the name setting the bar so high, Grandmother’s House had lots to live up to before we even stepped through the door.

Inside Grandmother's House

Off of a country road in Owens Cross Roads, Grandmother’s House is just that to the owner: the place where her grandmother lived. It is charming inside with separate rooms of the house dedicated to dining. There is even a large banquet room that was added to accomodate larger crowds. This room is where our party was seated, and it looked out onto a barn and pasture land. As we perused the menu, our waitress brought complimentary hushpuppies and took our drink orders. Never having visited before, I asked her what we should order, and she did not offer any recommendations. I am always worried when employees don’t have two or three dishes that they are ready to rave about, but I later discovered that our waitress simply had a less than stellar personality.

Chicken 'n' Dumplin's

I chose the chicken and dumplings with green beans, fried okra, and mac and cheese as my sides. Our table also ordered the fried green beans as an appetizer. When our food arrived (at the same time as our appetizer, unfortunately) it looked appropriately like it had been prepared by a home cook. My chicken and dumplings were standard and lacked the seasoned, slow-cooked flavors you would expect from southern grandmothers. Some black pepper, poultry seasoning, and celery would’ve helped this dish have the dimension of flavor it lacked. I can apply pretty much the same suggestion to the side dishes as well. The green beans were obviously from a can, the fried okra was standard, and the mac and cheese won’t win any awards. The one above average morsel on my plate was the housemade roll. It was a large Parker-house style roll and was delicious. The fried green beans were novel and were served with a tangy sauce that complimented them well, but all-in-all, Grandmother’s House was a disappointment.

Fried Green BeansPerhaps my own grandmothers did me a disservice by cooking such wonderfully heartwarming and mouthwatering food throughout the years that few could match, but if you need a home cooking fix, avoid Grandmother’s House and try Mama Annie’s instead. If, on the other hand, you want to truly feel like you are sitting in your grandmother’s house, even though she may not be the best cook, give Grandmother’s a whirl.

Shane’s Take

Though it had its strong points, Grandmother’s House was a let-down for me. From the food to the atmosphere to the service, it just wasn’t great. Given its location out in the boondocks of Madison County, it needs to offer something special–whether great fried chicken or sweet old lady servers–to survive, but the night we visited it was not special.

The people who ran the restaurant were friendly, but our waiter struggled to offer good service. She was too timid for the job and seemed unenthusiastic about the food and us. In particular, her sheepish response to Melanie’s inquiry about what was good either showed lots of fear or disinterest. I was disappointed and honestly felt sorry for her, as she obviously was in the wrong job. She also failed to keep our drinks refilled, which is a Southern tragedy. Just ask Rosie: frequent refills bring the customers back.Chicken Livers

For dinner I ordered the fried chicken livers. I know all the comments that come with ordering chicken livers—You ordered what? Wow, those are disgusting. You want some pig brains to with that?—but I was feeling adventurous. They could have been a little hotter and fried just a little bit better, but they honestly weren’t bad. Heaven knows how awful a poorly-prepared chicken liver could be, so I appreciated that they simply came out completely cooked and coated with a decent batter. The side items—fried okra and creamed corn—were just okay. The okra either had sat longer than it should or was cooked in oil that wasn’t hot enough; the creamed corn needed some butter or salt or just something to give it a little Southern twang. The roll, though, was good, reminding me of the yeast rolls my mom made back in the day.

Inside Grandmother's House

As far as atmosphere goes, Grandmother’s House is pretty cool. It feels like it was once someone’s house, as it once was. Trinket-covered shelves and family pictures spanning about 100 years line the walls. Other various keepsakes of interest to the proprietors adorn the store, much like a more personal homespun version of Cracker Barrel. Although the decor isn’t my style, it shows a significant personal touch, which I appreciate.

With the lackluster food and service, it’s hard to recommend Grandmother’s House. The proprietors are trying hard and are working hard, but the recipes need attention, and at least our waitress needs some encouragement. If you’re hankering for a drive out in the country and can’t think of a place you want to stop along the way, I recommend it; otherwise, pass it up.

Hush Puppy

Other things to think about:

  • Grandmother’s House could really use the Restaurant: Impossible treatment. Chef Robert probably would flip out at the bland sides, but the end result would be a really cool (and much tastier) restaurant.
  • If you’ve never eaten at a slow food place in the country on a Friday night with friends, you should give it a try. The lazy drive with all its scenery, the smell of clean air, and the various “only in Alabama…” moments make for a really good time.
  • Don’t miss their collection of probably 200 arrowheads.
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