Blue Plate Cafe is a well established Huntsville tradition, but as it's a tradition that serves only breakfast and lunch, we seemed to keep missing it. We finally made it in for lunch on a sunshine filled Saturday and were happy to find that the bustling weekday crowds were thinned a bit on the weekend, making parking easy to find.
We were promptly seated and handed menus. I was disappointed to find they they stopped serving breakfast at 10:30 (10:15 on weekdays), but the lunch menu was enticing enough that I didn't mind too much. The menu is typical of most meat and three places, each day features a selection of three meats and a nearly a dozen sides. You can opt for a Blue Plate Special (the classic meat and three), a Veggie Plate (a selection of four sides) or sundry sandwiches, soups, and salads.
The hubby and I were remarkably in sync as we both selected the Blue Plate Special with chicken and dressing, hashbrown casserole, and the dessert of the day (banana pudding). We did differ in our third sides--I opted for spinach and he for corn, and in our breads--cornbread for me, a roll for him. We had barely sipped our drinks when our food came up. This a spot which is used to needing to move large crowds through quickly and the service is a well oiled machine.
The portions were generous and our plates were heaped with food. The chicken and dressing was a combination of shredded, tender, slightly dry chicken and moist, crumbly cornbread dressing. Topping off this ball of vittles was what seemed mostly to be thickened chicken stock--a clear, viscous "gravy" with a strong chicken flavor and small bits of celery and carrots. Taken together, the texture was smooth and the dish mostly tasted of chicken. It wasn't quite what I had been expecting, but it was tasty and filling. As a bonus, the chicken and dressing came with a small scoop of cranberry sauce which was smooth and tangy.
The hashbrown casserole was a scoopfull of happiness. Large, grated pieces of potato cooked until soft, paired with cheddar cheese and seasoned with pepper created a dish with a strong cheesy flavor and a bit of personality. A near picture perfect definition of "comfort food", I could eat this by the bowlful.
The spinach was served hot, sitting in a bit of water, and sprinkled through with bits of pork. I never could determine if they were pieces of thick cut bacon or finely cut ham. Either way, I was thrilled to discover that the spinach tasted decidedly of spinach and was not overcooked into bitterness.
The hubby assured me that his corn was lovely, avoiding the dreaded "can taste" that often accompanies selecting corn as a side. His roll was similarly satisfactory, but I found my cornbread to be a bit...off.
It had a wonderfully moist crumb, with just a touch of crunch around the edges, but the rather placid flavor gave way to an oddly sweet aftertaste.
The banana pudding was delightful. Thick, with an ever so slight grittiness, the pudding was served over the customary slices of bananas and vanilla wafers. The pudding was clearly served up in anticipation of customers for it had sat long enough that the wafers were thoroughly soggy. Happily, they were so throughly soggy that instead of presenting as limp wafers, they disintegrated and became a crumbly vanilla flavored crust. The pudding itself had a mild banana flavor which was accented by the bolder flavor of the banana slices. This was another dish I could happily put away by the bowlful.
Our check came up just as we finished our food and our entire meal, without feeling rushed, clocked in at about 30 minutes.
Blue Plate is used to catering to the business crowd and they hit all the high points--generous portions, reasonable prices, and prompt, polite service. Parking is a bear, so be prepared if you decide to stop in. The food is accessible "down home cooking". Despite being prepared in advanced and served in heaping scoopfuls in a manner reminiscent of a cafeteria, the food is well executed and delicious. We will absolutely we back; next time I think I even try to get out the door at a reasonable hour so that we can sample their breakfast fare.
Total for the meal: $20.90 (includes two Blue Plate Specials and two soft drinks)
View Larger Map