Review: The Covered Dish in Saraland, AL

One doesn’t have to be an economic whiz to realize these are volatile financial times we live in.  Everyone, save the government, understands this.  In the past year the Tri-City area has lost the Lunch Box in Satsuma and Checker’s Drive-in, Colonel Dixie and Strickland’s Butcher Shop all in Saraland.  With that in mind you really have to respect the folks at the Covered Dish.

They opened last December just off Shelton Beach Road and they just keep plugging along despite an ever declining economy.  The interior is quaint if not cozy with seating for maybe 30.  The décor is a contemporary take on the classic diner with a tribute on one wall to Alabama’s recent National Championship.  Be forewarned Auburn and LSU fans, the Covered Dish doesn’t do equal time but don’t let that stop you from a homemade meal.

The menu is sparse but they supplement that with a healthy special’s board which is always preferable.  It harkens back to an age when restaurants designed their menus around what was in season at the moment – before the Franken-foods so prevalent today.  The day I visited they offered, among other things, chicken noodle soup and homemade lasagna.  I opted for something off of the menu, a pulled pork sandwich with baked beans.

The baked beans, they admitted, were a commercial product, but one that had received a little TLC. They had been augmented with a subtle spice blend while some finely diced bell peppers added an air of freshnessand a touch of crunch.  I am a baked bean aficionado and I thought these were a fine example of the recipe.

Pulled Pork SandwichThe pulled pork was a classic slow roasted Boston Butt.  It was tender and moist with plenty of flavor.  Though it was oven roasted and not smoked, a side of KC Masterpiece added the perfect amount of smoky sweetness for those who prefer their pulled pork to be of the BBQ variety.  However, it would have been just as good with the addition of a few of the dill pickle chips that come with the plate and a generous squeeze of mustard.  I left satiated and ready for a pork-induced nap.

Among the sandwiches on the menu you will also find a BLT, grilled chicken on whole wheat, a bacon burger, a Buffalo chicken sandwich and a chicken salad on croissant.  From the special’s board you can also assemble yourself a meat & 2 or meat & three plate, both served with either cornbread or biscuit.  Other menu sides include chips, side salad and coleslaw plus an ever changing array from the special’s board.  They also offer homemade desserts and fresh salads.

The Covered Dish is located at 202-B Norton Ave where it crosses Shelton Beach.  It can be a little tough to spot but not impossible to find.  They are open for lunch Monday through Friday and also provide dinner service on Thursday and Friday until 8 PM.  Give them a call at 251-675-7704 for carry out or delivery orders or to pre-order a whole pie or cake for a special event.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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