Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dining in a Downpour..J's Hole in the Wall

It was raining so hard the day of our visit, that I failed to take a picture of the building.  I ripped this snowy picture from J's facebook page so you can see just how small the building is.  Notice the picnic tables in the background.

It was a chance remark by the brother of a friend that led to a culinary adventure for Three Friends and a Fork.  Our friend, Tubby made the call.  No, she is not tubby.  We call her that because her last name is Tubbs AND because her first name is Luanne.  We needed to differentiate between the two Luannes, so she became Tubby.   Anyway, Tubby's brother, Danny, happened to be raving about a restaurant in Bryant, Alabama.  He swore the burgers were amazing, but so was everything else he had tried.  And, the kicker?  Everything was homemade with fresh, organic ingredients.  The meat was slaughtered and processed right down the road and the fries were hand cut to order. Everything was as freshly prepared as possible.  The name of the place was J's Hole in the Wall.  Tubby knew when she heard this that it was a place the Three Friends needed to check out.

But, Bryant?  We had all heard of Bryant, but only Tubby knew how to get to Bryant.  It is tiny, about 3200 people and it is buried deep in Jackson County, which happens to be the largest county in the state.  Trying to find something in Jackson County is similar to looking for a needle in a haystack.  Getting lost in Jackson County is easily possible.  One other odd fact about Bryant...even though it lies in the Central time zone, we had to switch over to "fast time", as the locals refer to the Eastern time zone.  Apparently it lies so close to the border between Eastern and Central time zones, people in the area operate in the zone of their choice. According to Danny, so many people from Bryant cross over into the Eastern time zone in Georgia or Tennessee for work, they just stay on "fast time" to make their lives easier.  Anyway, J's Hole in the Wall is on "fast time".   Tubby got directions from her brother and agreed to be our guide.  Tubby's two kids and our friend, Merri rounded out our group.  We had planned our trip for days.  My first question, "Do we need a reservation?", was met with a loud guffaw from Danny.  Uh, no!  No need for a reservation, because there is no dining room.  He pointed out that there were picnic tables if we wanted to eat there, but for most folks it is just pick up and go.  We decided we would take advantage of the picnic tables.

The day of our trip arrived, gray and overcast, and we agreed on a meeting front of Walmart this time.  Things were looking up when Luanne actually managed to keep from ending up in the Kmart parking lot!  We set off in two vehicles...Sherri and Luanne in Sherri's car and the rest of us in Tubby's vehicle.  Tubby was leading the way and off we went.  We all headed east on highway 72 toward Stevenson and things were going swimmingly, when two things happened.  First, the bottom fell out of the sky!  Seriously, we were headed to a restaurant where the only tables were picnic tables outside and we had just been hit by a monsoon!

Second, Parker is not a good follower.  Really.  The girl likes to be first.  And if she is not first, well, she just pretends to be first, which means that she doesn't pay attention when, say, the car that is really in front makes a right turn.  No, sir!  Parker just keeps traveling full speed ahead!  And, Luanne, the passenger, was, of course, not paying attention, so neither of them realized that we were no longer in front of them.  We watched, in amazement as they sped past, knowing they had no clue where they were going!  We started calling on our cell phones, but they weren't answering.  As we pulled off into the Mountainview Church of God parking lot, buckets of rain were pouring on us and two tines of The Fork were completely oblivious to the drama they were creating!

Finally, much like that little "yop" from JoJo in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, our frantic calls finally got through and Luanne answered her phone.    Her response?  "Where are y'all?"  Like we were the ones who were lost!  Then they accused us of not paying attention and not letting them know where we were going.  See what I mean?  Wouldn't you think the burden of paying attention would fall on the ones "following"?  Except for the fact that Parker does not follow and if Luanne is not driving, she does not pay attention.  Oh, my!

We had to sit and wait for our two nomads to come all the way back from Stevenson and find us in the church parking lot.  It took about ten minutes.  We hoped it would give the rain time to dissipate.  Ha!  We were living in a fool's paradise!  That rain wasn't going was coming down harder, so by the time Sherri and Luanne got back to us, we needed to ditch our cars for an ark!
Warning...Do not go to Jay's Hole in the Wall for the ambience!  You are strictly navigating the back roads of Jackson County for the FOOD when you go to Jay's!!

All together again, we got back on course.  When we finally arrived at J's Hole in the Wall, we exchanged looks.  The place was TINY!  And, just as Tubby's brother had promised, there was no dining room.  There was a tiny covered front porch where we could stand to place our orders.  The porch was almost too small for the seven of us.  And the wind was blowing, so we really were not staying dry, even under the cover.

Sherri, Merri, Tubby, Aidan and Hudson seek shelter from the storm.

But, being the true professionals that we are, we got down to business.  What to order?  We were amazed at the size of the was much larger than we expected after seeing the size of the building.  We had a hard time deciding what to choose.
We have to go back and try some of the other offerings at Jay's! They had flounder and coconut shrimp, for goodness sake!
Lu's ready to place her order.
And once we got our orders placed and received our food, we had a different dilemma...where to sit!  We couldn't sit at the picnic tables with all the rain.  There wasn't enough room for all of us to sit at the small table under the covered front porch.  Our only other option...our cars!  So that is just what we did. We took our orders and made a mad dash for our cars.

Lu and Sherri
Aidan and Merri

Tubby doing her imitation of Carol Burnett as Gloria Swanson, with Hudson and Aidan in the background.

Merri and Luanne ended up with the smoked chicken plate and fried okra.  Merri also had sweet potato fries and Lu went with macaroni and cheese.  The smoked chicken was amazing.  Smoky and full of flavor, but also moist and tender.  The sides were all wonderful, but those sweet potato fries...YUM!  You know how some sweet potato fries are just so limp?  Well not these cuties!  They were soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

Smoked chicken plates

Parker and Aidan chose the cheeseburger with hand cut fries.  They were totally not disappointed.  It was a wonderful burger, fat and thick and juicy.  And those fries?  Well, they were the bomb, too! They were as good as, if not better than, the ones at Five kidding!

Cheeseburger and hand cut fries

Hudson and Tubby had the hand battered chicken fingers and they loved them.  They were definitely not the kind you buy in a box at Walmart!

Fried catfish sandwich

I finally settled on the fried catfish sandwich and I was so happy I did.  That was one of the best pieces of fried catfish I have had in a long time.  I am getting hungry for another one just from writing about it.  I also had those fine sweet potato fries.  Oh, my gosh!  Did I mention how good they were?

Those sweet potato fries were so good, not a crumb was left!
Bryant is not easy to find, but it is worth the drive to enjoy the homemade goodies at J's Hole in the Wall.  Owners Aaron and Cynthia Williams are doing it right!  Everything is home cooked and fresh. Even though business has grown so much they can no longer get the quantity of meat they need from the supplier nearby, they still buy the freshest and most healthy ingredients they can find.  They also told us they are adding a dining room, so when you visit, you might not have to sit in your car when the rains come.  Even with the torrential rains, J's Hole in the Wall was doing a steady business.  Apparently the folks in and around Bryant call in a lot of orders and just run by and pick up their food to take home, because car after car of hungry folks pulled up, grabbed their orders and left while we were there car dining.  Take it from Three Friends and a Fork, you NEED to visit J's Hole in the Wall. Let us know when you go.  We will be happy to help you find J's Hole in the Wall.  And, be sure to tell our new friends, Aaron and Cynthia, Three Friends and a Fork sent you.
Posing with The Fork!

Learning all about J's Hole in the Wall from the man who should know...owner Aaron Williams.

Here we are with the owners, Cynthia and Aaron Williams.

               Three Friends and a Fork and our Hole in the Wall gang give J's Hole in the Wall

3 Tasty Yums UP!

J's Hole in the Wall on Urbanspoon
Three Friends and a Fork
Three Friends and a Fork

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  1. Happy you guys could make it to my little home town of Bryant, AL. I know the drive was worth it, cause ya'll aren't lying when you say just how yummy the food is. I'm pretty sure I could happily live off those chicken tenders :)

  2. Thanks, LaChae! It was totally worth it and we will be back...we might have to have help finding our way, though! :)