Leaving our dining options open is always a good idea when we travel, and on our Colbert County trip we found some treasures!We initially planned to eat that night at the Rattlesnake Saloon, but it …
Leaving our dining options open is always a good idea when we travel, and on our Colbert County trip we found some treasures!
We initially planned to eat that night at the Rattlesnake Saloon, but it was temporarily closed due to storm damage. The Cat and I are not strangers to good eating places in Florence, but that city is in Lauderdale County and we had not eaten in many places on the Colbert County side of the Tennessee River, where for the most part, the boundaries of three cities run together (Tuscumbia, Sheffield and Muscle Shoals).
Thanks to a brochure I picked up at the Colbert County Tourism building, we had a guide to every eating place in their county and whether or not it featured live music. We picked out Stanfield’s for our evening, but when we got there, we quickly observed that several hundred other diners had already made the same decision, and plenty of latecomers were waiting their turn on benches outside.
The Cat was getting a little edgy by this time…no, real edgy, and we had noticed signage for a nearby place called FIZZ (FIZZ…WHERE THE MUSIC IZZ), located inside the Clarion Motel, an old Holiday Inn built in the time when they all had a restaurant/nightclub. So, we decided to turn our bad luck into good luck … it was that or Chuck E. Cheese, so we took a flyer on FIZZ, and it turned out to be a good decision in more ways than one.
The Cat ordered loaded potato skins (she’s Chicago/Polish) and I got a burger which turned out to be an 8-ounce burger. The idea was that we would share, and we did a little, but both were so good that I only got one bite of potato skin while she ate half of my burger! The prices, including drinks, were reasonable, a music duo was performing on the stage, and The Cat was no longer edgy, but that wasn’t where the evening ended.
I started talking to the guy sitting next to me, Monty, and his wife, Deloris. Monty was a businessman in the area and he and Deloris were without power at home for two or three days (same storm that ruined out plans for Rattlesnake Saloon), so they were staying at the Clarion. I quizzed him a little about really good, local places to eat with music, and he suggested Champy’s World Famous Fried Chicken, which he said could be found on a nearby shortcut back to the Coldwater Hotel.
I thanked him when we left, but I was thinking, come on man…fried chicken and live entertainment? We got Jacks back in Iuka and they have their TV working now…Champy’s is probably NOT what we are looking for, but we’ll give it a drive-by since it’s on our “short-cut.”
We followed Monty’s directions, leaving FIZZ after 8, and sure enough, it was pretty close, just like he said, and would you believe it, there was only one parking space available at 8:30 in a lot that probably held 75 vehicles – always a good sign! We pulled into that space!
Champy’s sign out front had a slogan right below the name, which simply said BLUES, BREWS, & BIRD! Walking inside, the only two seats available in two dining areas were at the bar and soon became ours! A really good 3-piece band was performing in the adjoining area, which we learned was a winterized, covered patio, and every table was full with diners fully engaged in consuming big trays of boiled corn-on-the-cob, whole red potatoes, andouille sausage, and CRAWFISH!
We got a menu, even though we had already eaten, and got a few other surprises! Yes, there were a lot of freshly battered and fried chicken entrees. There was even homemade chicken stew served with saltines, and under the starters, eight jumbo “award-winning” hot wings.
Since we had already eaten, we passed on the crawfish and the chicken…this time…but we did order! The Cat got two big hushpuppies from a section that said “Snacks for You,” and yes, you are right if you think hushpuppies should be served with catfish, and they had a full meal of catfish and hushpuppies on the menu also. I ordered six Mississippi Delta Homemade Hot Tamales from the starters, which came with crackers and slaw; I am something of an expert there and those tamales were spot on!
The place was full of TVs, and I can easily imagine how full it gets on game day! The décor was old country store retro on steroids - something to examine everywhere you looked!
The crowd of eaters was diverse - from families with young children to high school baseball players in uniform to young couples like me and The Cat, to grandpas and grandmas. It was just the kind of local place we like to find, and The Cat says she wouldn’t mind going back when we take a look at the Helen Keller birthplace in Tuscumbia and the Fame Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals…the last part of this series.
OK, Cat! If you really want to go back to Champy’s, I’ll do it for you ON OUR NEXT TRIP TO Colbert County!