Birmingham Cafe Has Hollywood Ties
The good ones are hot and tangy, gilded with a light golden
crust. Just like they cook at the Irondale Cafe in Birmingham.
The Irondale Cafe is the real life model for the fictional
Whistle Stop Cafe in the hit movie Fried Green Tomatoes.
The movie was drawn from the novel Fried Green Tomatoes
at the Whistle Stop Cafe, written by Birmingham-born author and actress
Fannie Flagg. It is widely rumored that the movies most colorful
character, Idgie Threadgood, is loosely based on Miss Flaggs real
life great aunt, Bess Fortenberry. Miss Fortenberry owned and ran the
Irondale Cafe for half a century. In 1973 she sold the diner to Bill and
Mary Jo McMichael.
I remember every dish Miss Bess served, Mrs.
McMichael says. Shed have three vegetables, slaw, a meat and
cornbread just about every meal. Though the McMichaels recently
retired and sold the cafe, the original menu is still intact but expanded
considerably. Good simple home cooking, including perfect fried green
tomatoes, makes the cafe a tremendous favorite with the locals. Sunday
dinner finds the line out the door and halfway down the sidewalk.
Publicity from the book and movie hasnt hurt business either. Tourists from all over the world have sought out the restaurant for its Idgie connection. Recently a film crew with the British Broadcasting Corporation used the cafe as a backdrop for the BBCs enormously popular cooking series with host Ainsley Harriott.
The Irondale Cafe is open for dinner*
Sunday through Friday from 10:45 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Private rooms are
available and motorcoach tours are welcome. Fried green tomatoes are always
on the menu.
(*This designation for the
midday meal may be a tad confusing to our friends from the North. What
may be lunch to them is properly referred to in the South as dinner. It
is traditionally the big meal of the day. The evening meal is called supper.
Now you know....)
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