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Today is a travel day, driving from Huntsville to Nashville and then flying home on Southwest.

But before that I must get three weeks of travel receipts on its way to Alameda because there are no reimbursements until after they’ve seen them. The on-line expense reports are all in and approved but they won’t cut the check — or do the automatic deposit — before the paperwork is done.

[Sigh.] Ok, so where’s the nearest Kinko’s / FedEx store?

Looking back, it’s been a good two weeks here. Two classes of sixteen, the maximum we book, means a solid contribution to the department’s bottom line. And with a weekend on the company nickel instead of flying home on Saturday and back to the same place the next day, I had time to enjoy myself while catching a few extra winks. Yeah, that was a real help.

And the restaurant list has been tended with a few dead plants removed and a couple of new ones added.

  • Worth Another Visit
    • Jackson Family Restaurant, 234 Lime Quarry Rd, Madison Al 35758, breakfast and lunch only
    • Cajun Cafe, 704 Hwy 231, Lacey’s Spring, AL 35754, a memorable dive, lots of gumbos to sample
    • Edo, in Madison AL, surprisingly good Japanese, hispanic sushi chefs (who were very good), and a full meal in a simple bowl of ramen
    • Saigon Vietnamese, 8760 Madison Blvd, Suites P and Q, Madoson, AL 35758, great BBQ pork with vermicelli, spring rolls good but wrappers a tad on the rubbery side
    • Vinotini, tapas lounge next to Pauli’s, 7143 Hwy 72 West, SW corner Slaughter Rd and Univeristy Dr., excellent wine list, but pricey at $30-50 per person depending on what you get
    • Thomas Bar-B-Q, 7929 Hwy 72 W, Madison AL, slow service but worth the wait — the hot sauce on the table is wonderful
    • Surin, 975 Airport Rd, Huntsville AL 35802, very good Thai, also known for their martinis
    • Oh’ Bryans Family Steak House, 100 Plaza Blvd, Madison AL, downright honest steaks if you order from the high end of the menu (the cheaper cuts get many downturned thumbs from locals)
  • Don’t Bother
    • Greenbriar’s, the old place, 27028 Old Hwy 20, Madison AL, food is “died and fried” but in no specific order, don’t bother unless you want an interesting place to see and have already had dinner before you arrive (and I REALLY hated the cole slaw)
    • Greenbriar’s, the new place, http://www.greenbrierbarbque.com/, east on 565 to Greenbriar exit north, but then first turn and on the access road — there’s a sign to mark the turn, reportedly a good place but apparently gone to seed as all the dishes were incredibly bland (and, again, I REALLY hated the cole slaw)
    • Tai Pan, 2012 S. Memorial Pkwy, Huntsville, AL, tons of MSG in the food give mega-headaches and major drowsiness after eating

(I think I’ll skip food today.)

Cajun Cafe

After work, I drove south from Huntsville Alabama a handful of miles to where highway 231 crosses the Tennessee River.

“Maybe there’ll be an interesting restaurant,” I thought.

And, yup, just after crossing the bridge, there it was, the Cajun Cafe.

Small, dumpy, with red Christmas lights hanging from the eaves and a stray white cat sneaking around the parking lot.

“Doesn’t look like much,” I said to myself. “I’ll check the menu but then probably go somewhere that looks better kept.”

Standing just inside the door was a large menu with today’s fare written in multi-colored chalk.

“Hmmm, several gumbos, shrimp, crawfish, … this has possibilities.”

As I started to think more seriously about staying, three groups came though the door and lined up at the cash register to order.

I moved to the end of the line but continued to study the menu.

The list of side dishes looked interesting, too. Lots of southern cooking here.

So I listened to those before me to hear what they wanted.

“Catfish, two pieces, with hush puppies, greens and butter beans, please.”

“Catfish, one piece, with hush puppies, cabbage and corn.”

“Catfish, two pieces, potato salad, and red beans and rice. Oh, and hush puppies, too.”

These folks know something.

My turn came.

“And what will you have, sir?”

“Catfish, two pieces, hush puppies and, uhm, spicy turnip greens and, ah, yellow squash.”

“$8.55, please.”

I found an empty table to await the food and turned on my Blackberry to check email and fill the time.

There was a message from Robin: “Had any Gumbo yet?” she asked.

I filled her in and the expected dinner but before I could send it dinner arrived.

I quickly sampled each dish and finished the email reply to Robin with “Wonderful!” and hit send.

If you like atmosphere, hush puppies, catfish and southern cooking, this one’s worth a drive. And with several gumbos on the menu, the Cajun Cafe will see me a few more times.