The Barry Bonds of Hamburgers

April 25, 2011

Fast food meets gourmet cooking.  That’s the name of the game for The Hungry Owl.  Unfortunately it’s not very close to where we live therefore it isn’t extremely convenient when we are starving and looking for a quick dinner.  However, when our schedule allows, we go!  And on Saturday evening, this was precisely the case.

If you’re looking for a presumptuous atmosphere with tons of ego, this is NOT the place.  You order and pay at the counter, and your food is served hot and fresh on a Styrofoam plate.  You pickup your napkins and utensils at the counter and drinks are “serve yourself”.  The dining room is small but they offer outdoor seating as well.  On Saturday night the weather was nice so we sat outside. The theme in decor is, you guessed it, owls.  But if I’ve ever seen a place make owl decor look good, the owners here have done just that.  it has a rustic and modern type feel.  The dining room has always been clean and this visit was no exception.  I like that you can see the “kitchen” and watch the cooks as you order at the register.  They make the rush of filling orders for a packed dining room look easy. We were surprised that it took so long to get our food, but after we saw how many take out orders they had before ours, we knew why.  However, the weather was nice so we enjoyed sitting outside and visiting with our friends.  Another plus for me, and this may sound odd, is the placement of the menu.  Even though I am young, AND I wear contact lens, I have a hard time reading a menu when they are placed high above and behind the register.  This is probably something that most people don’t appreciate or even notice but the menu is in plain view and at eye level right next to the register. It seems almost strategically placed so that as you wait in line, you are provided optimal time to make your decision before you reach the register.  Along with their set menu, they have daily specials written on a chalkboard hung on the wall opposite of the entrance.  You can’t miss it!

Enough about the restaurant itself, let’s get to the meat and potatoes – THE FOOD!  The cuisine is cajun/creole which to me means “delicious”.  I am such a fan of cajun flavors! The items on the menu may seem ordinary but you can bet they all have a cajun flare.  I made the mistake of eating a late lunch on Saturday so I wasn’t extremely hungry.  I had the Smoked Chicken Salad and it came with 2 sides, I chose green beans and a side salad.  The smoked chicken salad was quite unique.  It almost reminded me of a vinegary bean salad infused with tender smoked chicken.  This was unfortunate for me, as I am trying to stay away from beans, but the flavor was impressive.  The green beans had a great flavor and I loved that they had almonds and mushrooms in them, but they were a little more crisp than I prefer.  However, since texture isn’t a huge issue for me I ate them anyway.

Now, I can’t wait to tell you about what my husband had.  The new and improved “Tony Burger”, better known as “The ULTIMATE Tony Burger”.  This burger is like the best burger you’ve ever had, on steroids! Go ahead and set aside the next 5 minutes just to read the ingredients of this burger but be ready for a mouth-watering experience.  The meat is of excellent quality and is stuffed with sautéed peppers, onions, Conecuh sausage and 3 cheeses. The Tony Burger stopped here, but the ULTIMATE Tony Burger is now topped with candied jalapenos, Conecuh bacon, cheddar cheese, smoked Gouda, creole BBQ sauce and a fried egg.  Matthew ordered this without the bun and didn’t feel like he missed out on much.  The contents of the burger itself were completely satisfying and since we avoid grains and carbohydrates, this was the perfect choice.  He was crazy about the candied jalapenos so I had to taste them,  and it was like dessert!  Sweet but spicy, what a great combination. And the crisp texture was PERFECT, which I’m sure complimented the burger well. If the description alone doesn’t entice you to try this burger, maybe the picture will! I can’t wait to try it next time when my appetite is bigger!Outside of this experience I can also attest to the shrimp and smoked gouda grits and they are outstanding.  It is a spicy rendition of this dish but one of my all-time favorites.  I like to try shrimp and grits anytime I see them on a menu, because they are always different, but most do not compare to The Hungry Owl. In fact, it’s been hard for me to branch out to try new items because each time I go, that’s what I want to eat!

The crowning moment of this visit came after we finished our meal.  Tony (the owner) came out and offered us a plate full of crawfish.  They were seasoned and cooked perfectly!  And if you’ve ever had crawfish that were NOT cooked correctly, you could appreciate good ones when you get them.  I don’t know if these are on the menu or if there are plans to add them to the menu but I could probably eat those on a weekly basis!

Overall I would rate our dining experience at The Hungry Owl very high.  High enough that I can’t wait to go back!  If you are ever in the area of Schillingers and Cottage Hill, you HAVE to check it out. And if you’re not, plan a trip. It will not disappoint!Checkout their website and read the origination of the name.  Also, props to the graphic designer, the logo is super cute and the menu looks great as well.


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