As I mentioned in the Waffle House post, I was back in Birmingham the next week to visit Dear on a pre-planned trip. Every year, I teach a Thursday afternoon class at the University of Alabama Honors College for my good friend Bob McCurley, the legendary former head of the Alabama Law Institute. I teach the class and Bob gives me two tickets to an Alabama football game. I may be the highest-paid lawyer in the country — in terms of real value, if not in dollars. And it’s great to be able to spend some quality time with Bob and his wife, Babs, two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
After teaching Thursday, it was back to Birmingham. I spent Friday morning with Dear, and then stopped for lunch before picking Nancy up at the Birmingham airport. This time it was for lunch at Carlile’s with my oldest friend, Jean Webb.
You met Jean in my post on Rusty’s Bar-B-Q. We’ve been friends since I was nine. We went to high school together at Indian Springs School, and have kept in touch off and on since then. Jean famously went through an ultra-strict vegan phase where he could only eat roots and berries, except that he would eat a particular barbecue sandwich. I forgot to mention that after graduating from Chapel Hill, Jean found himself as the bartender cum bouncer at the Malamute Saloon in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Malamute Saloon was the setting for Robert Service’s immortal poem, The Shooting of Dan McGrew. Google it right now. I’ll wait.
Okay. It is now closed, but in its day the Malamute Saloon was a lively place to work. A customer once bit off a piece of Jean’s arm, and he has other, less interesting customer-generated scars. Worse, he lived in a house without indoor plumbing for a while. In Fairbanks, that means taking a shaped piece of styrofoam to the outhouse so you don’t stick to the seat. After a while, Jean realized that life working with computers in Birmingham would be more fun.
Jean and I decided to meet at Carlile’s, where I’d taken Dear for an early Mother’s Day lunch a couple of years ago.
Jean and I sat down and were pleasantly surprised to get an amuse bouche of fried dill pickle chips.
I ordered, and this will surprise no one, the pork plate with greens and green beans.
Jean ordered the pork plate with greens and potato salad.
Now, Jean said that he didn’t think the pork was as good as it had been when he lived fairly close by and used to eat there three times a week. That’s not to say he didn’t eat it all. I’m not sure that it was as good as last time with Dear (who just loved it), but it was very good. Maybe Jean is getting to the age-appropriate Not As Good As it Used To Be stage. I am. The greens and green beans were quite good, and Jean did justice to his potato salad. The corn bread was pretty good, at its best dripping with pot likker.
The fried pickles were pretty good, but not fry-specialist place good. They were best as a vehicle for Carlile’s white sauce. They have three sauces —
The original could use more vinegar, but it was good. Their white sauce also is good. (I didn’t try the B’ham Red.)
Jean is about to move to Brevard, North Carolina, where one son is about to get married, and where he’ll only be 89 miles from Red Bridges, and even closer to some promising places in South Carolina. Maybe we’ll be able to meet at Red Bridges when I travel to settle on the Best North Carolina Barbecue (Western Division).
Meanwhile, you should eat at Carlile’s. It’s a Top Place.