Southern Savor: Nick’s in the Sticks

For my birthday dinner Friday, I chose Nick’s Original Filet House, or to those in Tuscaloosa, Nick’s in the Sticks.

It was my first time, and a few other friends first time as well. To have lived in Tuscaloosa for 12 years and never eaten here was a terrible misstep on my part.

It’s almost a hole-in-the-wall restaurant located in the west end of Tuscaloosa. It doesn’t even classify as a hole in the wall because it’s more like half a hole.

I had no idea where it was, so my friend Isaac drove. After driving on a dark, sleepy road for a few minutes Isaac pointed to our right and casually pointed at this small building covered with cars.

The cars were parked in a haphazard, yet functional way outside the restaurant. Similarly, that’s how Nick’s works.

Because of it’s limited number of seating, patrons should arrive around 5:30 p.m. If you have a larger party, you may want to consider an earlier time. When we arrived at roughly 5:45 p.m. our wait time was roughly “awhile.”

The small setting creates a controlled chaos, yet enjoyable atmosphere. Dollar bills cover the ceiling. Alabama memorabilia adorns the walls.

Despite the hustle the waiters are doing, the patrons don’t appear to mind the business. The waiters are constantly moving, sending drink order to the bartender. He’s busy constantly mixing Nickademus’s. It’s one of the two mixed drinks Nick’s offers. It’s also the most well known, and word around town is one is all that is necessary.

Alcoholic beverages are served in white Styrofoam cups, the rest in red Solo cups. I imagine this makes life a lot easier for the waiters, and the rest of the small staff.

There’s nothing special about the food on Nick’s menu. It consists of the usual American staples: beef, fish and chicken.  (That includes chicken livers.) The difference in Nick’s is that the food is prepared perfectly.

We started with the homemade fried onion rings for an appetizer. The rings were huge. And heavily breaded. And hot. And delicious.

Between the onion rings and the side salad that comes with every entrée, I was concerned about how much room my stomach had left.

I would say I bore through the fish dinner I ordered, but that would be a lie. Once my plate was in front of me, I realized what I had to do. Eat all of it.

I was treated to some of the best catfish I’ve ever had. The breading was just right. Not too thin, but not thick enough to ruin the fish flavor. There was some type of seasoning on it that included sea salt. Something I appreciated.

The fries are thick and perfect for dipping in ketchup. Where it lacks in saltiness, it makes up in thickness.

While I enjoyed the catfish, the others had beef. One friend had a cheeseburger, the rest the steak.

The bacon-wrapped steak won the majority of the group. When I asked one friend, Isaac, what made it so delicious he said, “I’d say a secret recipe and thick bacon.”

Savanna, who ordered the cheeseburger, said it was tender, juicy and super cheesy.

After about 20 minutes, everyone’s plate was completely clean. We continued to sit there in our gluttony discussing the error of our ways in never eating at Nick’s. We also said we would eat there everyday.

While that hasn’t quite panned out, I do plan on frequenting there. It was a relatively cheap meal, making it even more enjoyable.

It was a delicious meal spent with good friends. And if you’re ever passing through Tuscaloosa, strongly consider put visiting Nick’s at the very top of your list. You won’t be disappointed.

Computer Problem

It was a wonderful birthday weekend that was spent with family and friends. I even tried new things. Twenty-three has n’t been so bad on me, so hopefully the continues.

Unfortunately, my laptop is down for the count. I’m currently using the iPhone app, but no one wants to look at their phone for too long.

Once my battery arrives, everything will be back to normal. But until then, it’s going to be short and sweet.

Hope you guys have a great week!

Birthday Cards

I haven’t kept it quiet that this is my birthday week, but today is my actual birthday. I’m actually 23. Seems crazy. I’m a pretty nostalgic person, I like to think it’s because I had such a wonderful childhood.

One of the reasons my childhood was so wonderful was due to my great grandparents. Living in a small town and just a few minutes away meant frequent early pickups from preschool and lots of spur of the moment sleepovers.

I can still recite their address and phone number.

They were simply known as Mamaw and Papaw, and they meant the world to me. Despite being one of many grandchildren and great grandchildren, they were able to make me feel like I was their one and only.

When I was born in 1990, they were celebrating their 50th anniversary. They were as southern as southern gets, except about sweet tea. They never had that. But, make it in time for breakfast and you could get some of the best biscuits and fried eggs imaginable. And if you stayed til the 10 o’clock news, you’d be offered some coffee. (I drank it black, sharing the saucer with Papaw. Probably why I’m only 5’3.)

They left their doors unlocked, even when they went on trips. Always leaving a note to let us know where they had gone and when they would be back.

They got their water from a spring in northern Alabama.

They never had a microwave.

They taught me how to play Dominos. And Uno. And Trouble. And pool.

They let me sleep with them when I believed there was a monster in the guest bedroom. (I still think there was one.)

They told me about the Sand Man when I wouldn’t fall asleep.

They brought me presents on my siblings birthdays. (Two siblings in 16 months is rough on a former only child of five years.)

They stopped at the gas station every Sunday night after church to buy me a snack.

In short, they spoiled me.

While I have very distinct moments with each of them, individually and as a pair, Mamaw had one particular characteristic.

She sent cards. All kinds of cards, but especially birthday cards. And if you were a family member, a birthday phone call.

Many times I would be woken up to learn Mamaw and Papaw were on the line to tell me happy birthday. And when I would see them later in the day I would get my birthday card.

It was something I looked forward to, no matter how old I was.

But, I didn’t get that birthday card or phone call three years ago, just six days after Mamaw had passed away. It stung, but thanks to great friends and family, I made it through.

Mamaw and Papaw were such a big part of my life, and provided me with so many lessons and so much love. While I used to find my birthday memories with them very bittersweet, today I am thankful I have such memories to recall. All those memories make me light up inside. And today, I celebrate.

So here’s to 23!

Hope you all have a great weekend, I sure plan to.

Warmer Weather Thoughts: Xtreme WaterParks

I’m a big fan of warm weather, something that hasn’t been seen around here in a while. I love summertime and all of the outdoor activities that come with it. But here in the South, that warm weather can become unbearably hot weather really fast.

One of my favorite beat-the-heat activities is going to water parks. Water slides of any kind, extreme or not, always make me happy and keep me cool. I imagine my love for water slides comes from my earlier days when the Slip’n Slide became a staple to my summers.

To my enjoyment, the University of Alabama Rec Center built a water slide in 2003. The past few summers my friends and I have spent hours at the Rec pool, mostly going down the slide and riding the lazy river.

The Travel Channel featured a water park marathon earlier in the week, Xtreme Waterparks, and now I’m anticipating summer and warmer weather. Much to my surprise, I learned that Europe, especially Germany houses many of the world’s best water parks.

Even more to my surprise was learning of this thing called “speed sliding,” also known as speed chuting. It is a real thing in Germany, and its biggest star, Jens Scherer, was featured on one of the Travel Channel’s water slide episode.

Scherer holds four Guinness Book of World Records for his sliding ability and is a champion speed slider. (It’s hard to find information on speed chuting, but as of 2009, Scherer was a seven-time champion.)

Here’s a glimpse into Scherer’s speed chuting life from a 2010 story in Outside magazine.

And here’s video proof from one of his Guinness Book attempts.

While I don’t see myself attempting speed chuting anytime soon, I do see a trip centered around water slides happening.

Hope you guys have a great end to the week!

PS- Here’s a 2 minute video collage of the most intense water slides featured on the Travel Channel’s Xtreme Waterparks.

It’s Monday. Yep.

The week of slowness continued into the weekend. It was a very girly weekend. Gymnastics on Friday and dinner at Five on Saturday to celebrate Tara’s engagement. This week will be much more eventful since it’s my birthday week. So, here’s to one more week of being 22.

Something to help your perspective this Monday: the make-everything-ok button.
And other happy things from the past week:

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Valentine’s Day flowers from Brett. Carnations are my favorite.

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Another Valentine’s Day remnant…chocolate with raspberry or orange filling are a weakness.

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My two favorite kids also gave me some Valentine’s treats.

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Found in Hibbetts. Notice the $4.97 sale tag on the undefeated t-shirt.

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Browsing the March edition of Marie Claire. A thoughtful quote from Keira Knightley. Perfection doesn’t always look good.