Re:Nick's In The Sticks.....Tuscaloosa, AL...........................
Littleman:87 posts in your first 9 days on the board must be some sort of record.
Yes, I've been eating at Nick's since I was a teenager. Here's an old report on a great meal I had:
On a 1260 mile sprint across 7 states on my motorbike;suppertime of day 12 found me on the outskirts of Tuscaloosa,Alabama and within striking distance of the legendary roadhouse Nick's in the Sticks.It'd been many years since I beheld one of Nick's amazing steaks so I pulled off the freeway and began tracking toward their door.
My waiter from my college days walked up to the table and I nearly wept.Nick's must be a pretty good job,I inwardly reckoned.
Nick's is famous for Fried Chicken,Bacon-wrapped Filets,Rich Bleu Cheese Dressing,Ice cold beer and Homemade Onion Rings...I tried to imagine eating my way through the menu in one visit and had to snap myself back to a semblance of reality.
It can't be done.
The feast starts with a salad of torn iceberg accompanied by a carousel of dressings...I've never veered off the Bleu Cheese path and the intensity and delicious pungency of this sauce brings a flood of good memories.
The Ribeye arrives and my eyes well up at the beauty.Griddle cooked to a perfect medium rare,accompanied by a big baker and those lovely little brown and serve rolls found at every IGA Foodliner across the South.
I would've loved to wash down this wonderous repast with a fat Nickodemus,a signature cocktail concoction...Hawaii meets Tuscaloosa,falls in love and makes big Deep South babies who love meat and booze...but I had to cover 900 miles before 10am the following morning so thought better of it.
Ambience at Nicks is off the charts:everybody's smoking,eating meat,pounding drinks and telling lies...often loudly and across the room.The clientele is beyond diverse;a group of secretaries at the next table are wolfing down Cheeseburgers,construction guys are swigging diet buds and chatting away on their giant,old school cellphones,Frat boys are eating Fried Chicken and hoping they make it out of there alive.I'm riding steady in my own Hog Heaven.My waiter follows me out to the parking lot and as I ride off I get one big fist raised in the air until he disappears in my rear view.About as fine a sendoff as I've ever had.
And here's another report on the one bad meal I've ever had there:
Every restaurant has a bad night.
But it hurts a little bit more when that night coincides with your once a year visit.
Nicks In The Sticks is one of my top ten restaurants in the USA.I've eaten here dozens of times over the years and the food ranges from merely good to OH MY GOD THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING.
Racing up through Western Alabama hard off the trail from New Orleans it's easy to see why people love the Deep South.The appeal is such that even Texans mistakenly think of themselves as Southerners.Maybe if Sweet Tea and Smoked Pork ever have a breakout year the Texans can be included in the canon.
The sky is all rosy pink with shades of yellow and orange as I cross over from Mississippi into Alabama.Gassing up at a quickmart I nearly get rammed by a 14 year old girl in a Confederate flag halter top....she's hammering through the parking lot on a Kawasaki Mule ATV,not a care in the world doing 40 miles an hour in a breakneck race for a bag of pork skins and an ice cold Pepsi.
Leaving the heartbreak of 2O miles of bulldozed Pine trees that formerly dotted the median of I-59 I begin plotting my meal.Perhaps I'll get the Half Fried Chicken...no I really want the Bacon wrapped Filet...will I have room for the Homemade Onion Rings?I pull into the parking lot and make my way inside the humble roadhouse.A few regulars are at the bar drinking longnecks and watching some sporting this or that on the teevee.I order up a Nickodemus,a Ribeye medium rare and a salad with the best bleu cheese dressing in the South.
A few minutes later as I tuck into my feast I begin wondering if it's cooks night off.
The food is off by a good two notes.The Ribeye tastes oddly bitter.The IGA foodliner rolls[normally amazing food memory chow] are cold and chewy.The salad is good and the bleu cheese is wonderful as ever but the meal is a train wreck.I humbly pay for what I've eaten,profusely thank the staff for a wonderful meal and make my way to the gravel parking lot.I have a quiet moment before saddling up for the final sprint to Birmingham.I dream of meals of the past and silently make plans for next years visit.
And a piece about the waiter I mentioned above who died tragically in a car crash: