If you think about Continental fare, cereal, fruit salads, and/or croissants for breakfast, you are definitely not a Southerner. Julwin’s Southern Country restaurant in Fairhope, Alabama serves every doctor’s nightmare for breakfast; every normal person’s bliss-filled dream for breakfast. Southerner’s know how to enjoy a full breakfast.
I was recently in Alabama for a wedding. While there, I enjoyed some of the best BBQ in the South (and America? according to Travel Channel, yes) at Brick Pit’s. After a late night out, redneck style, there is one thing a recovering body needs and demands, and that’s plenty of grease and butter. Julwin’s Southern Country is a Southern style diner that came to the rescue.
This post is more about Julwin’s and the joys of a Southern style breakfast – when health ambitions are relaxed.
The Southern breakfast checklist
Southern cuisine conjures up images of luscious and comforting food loaded with fats and creams and made from closely guarded and secret family recipe, aka amazing. Southern pride for sure. Breakfast is no exception and after getting used to a Grandma-like homey morning spread of foods, going back to one’s boring breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, and cereal just seems so flat.
Here’s a checklist of some of my favorite Southern must-haves at breakfast:
- Buttermilk biscuits – biscuits are taken seriously and made from scratch. The buttermilk is key. Here is a great website with helpful tips, suggestions, and recipes to make a variety of homemade buttermilk biscuits
- Rolled cheese biscuits – a thicker version of the buttermilk biscuits, without the buttermilk but with extra flavors from the cheddar cheese, cayenne pepper, and paprika.
- Sausage gravy – A thick, creamy gravy constructed by collecting and using the pork drippings from frying sausage, bacon, and other types of pan-fried pork in greasing cast-iron cookware. A little bit of hot sauce also goes a long way and takes this artery clogging gravy to even higher heights
- Grits – these coarsely ground corn carefully cooked in a mixture of water, stock, cream, and butter and then often mixed with cheese, shrimp, scallions, and other delights
- Griddled country ham – a thick slab of country ham thrown on the griddle to warm up and develop a crust
- Red-eye gravy – a thin sauce made from pork drippings, water, coffee and sometimes flour. Learn more about this unique and easy sauce here.
- Pecan pancakes – pecans sprinkled into buttery and milky pancakes for texture
- Kentucky scramble – this isn’t a golf game. With corn being so plentiful in the South, this is creamy eggs with bacon, corn, and bell peppers.
- Sliced tomatoes – plain old, delicious tomatoes, sliced and served with a bit of salt. Simple, yet perfect to balance out a meal loaded with biscuits and gravies
- Breakfast casserole – pizza meets breakfast or a breakfast lasagna, kind of. There are many variations of this but the basic mixture of bread with scrambled eggs, sausages and bacon in a casserole dish is an elegant and satisfying starter.
- Country fried steak or chicken fried steak (with white sausage gravy) – I wasn’t exposed to this dish until I was in college. Boy, was I missing out. It is like a weiner schnitzel and comprised of cubed steak with seasoned flour and pan-fried, topped with a thick gravy. Now this is breakfast.
Julwin’s Southern breakfast in Fairhope, Alabama
Julwin’s did not disappoint. This Southern diner located off the main Fairhope downtown strip is old-school dining. It feels and appears as if the restaurant has been around for some time and has its loyal local group of eaters. The decor is lived-in and is nothing spectacular, which is the way a hang-over breakfast mecca should be – unassuming, ultra casual, and all about the greasy and buttery foods.
We had to order all the basics and of course share. The buttermilk biscuits with sausage gravy were what God intended them to be. Although the biscuit was drowned in the thick and pork flavored white gravy, it was not mushy nor dry. The texture of the biscuits stood firm and it was still delicate even after its bathing in gravy. The sausage gravy itself was creamy, almost on the verge of goopey. I did wish for some more porkiness, but I’m more about pigs than most folks. For me, the gravy was a bit under-seasoned, but nothing that a bit of local hot sauce and freshly cracked black pepper could not fix.
When I’m down South, I must have Country Fried Steak (Chicken Fried Steak). I am obsessed with it and to this day I still remember the first time I ever had it while having dinner at my ex-girlfriend’s home. Funny how a Korean mother introduced me and got me hooked on one of the South’s stables. Julwin’s country fried steak really hit home. Well seasoned and the batter was not too thick or over-fried. This with sides of fresh sliced tomatoes, cheese grits, and buttery pancakes definitely made the day start off on the proper foot … back into bed for a nap at 10am. Then again, this long and food-filled full breakfast is what it is all about down South and I hope we did it up right.