Alabama’s is an all American eatery on Newton Street, at the Piccadilly edge of the ever-sprawling Northern Quarter, specialising in breakfast and lunch. While there’s waffles and pancakes already gracing enough menus in the Northern Quarter, Alabama’s has a slightly different offering and it’s one that involves freshly baked (in their on-site bakery) breads, bagels and muffins, and that’s an offering I’m always likely to accept. Carb mode: on.
If you weren’t looking for it you might miss Alabama’s, since the eatery appears above street level and is up a small flight of stairs. Once inside it’s bright and airy and you’d be forgiven for assuming you’d walked on to a set of a Wes Anderson film, as the colour palette is evocative of The Life Aquatic, with bright yellow seating and aqua blue walls that are tranquil and calming. The toilets too offer a little more Wes, with a portrait of Bill Murray on your way in, and are worth a visit if only to see the zebra wallpaper.
There’s a real sense of relaxation here, even as it begins to fill up, and our waitress is prompt but not rushed in bringing us menus along with some water infused with cucumber, which she regularly tops up throughout our stay. Providing water to every table is customary in the US and it’s something I wish we did more of here, so it’s especially welcome, and it’s the right accompaniment to a flat white that’s been decorated by the barista with some cutesy latte art.
The menu offers Breakfast all day and Lunch from 12, and there’s plenty to choose from: prices start from £5.95 for greek yogurt with granola and honey, and go up to £11.50, for which you get a big American breakfast that includes a steak. Yes, a steak. Most breakfast items are around the £7 mark and portions are generous enough to see you through lunch, and possibly even dinner, too.
For our breakfast, we ordered the steak Breakfast (of course) and the Monte Cristo sandwich: the Breakfast, that includes an 11oz steak, free range eggs, streaky bacon, buttermilk pancakes and home fries was impressively stacked and the steak was pink and juicy. The pancakes were rich, buttery and pillowy, just as you’d hope, and the home fries sprinkled with chives were crisp and added a welcome starch to the dish. The Monte Cristo, a gargantuan sandwich of both sweet and savoury elements, made with home-made semolina bread and filled with shredded ham hock and mouth-melting grilled double cheese, that’s served with fresh berries and a berry compote is both boldly sweet and savoury and it needs to be because if it was only one or the other, it’d be overwhelming but instead it’s balanced and rather delicious.
Throughout our meal, service was attentive and friendly and we didn’t have to wait for long for the food or drinks to arrive. It gets busy with tourists, locals and workers taking a break by around 10.30am, even on weekdays, and I’d definitely recommend booking if you are considering turning up after 11am to make sure you have a seat.