I'm not an expert on Southern cooking, but I feel like I can count on an Arkansas woman who has wrestled alligators to get it right.
Alexandra Hannah opened Hannah's Restaurant in Grants Pass in 2010 and Hannah's BBQ and Catfish drive-thru in 2012, but has since closed both locations and moved her family-run business to 1253 N. Riverside Ave., Medford (the old Casa Ramos Mexican Restaurant).
Dining out with
the Mail Tribune
1253 N. Riverside Ave.
Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Alligator popcorn, fried pickles and green tomatoes, frog legs, catfish, jambalaya, seafood gumbo and crawfish etouffee are about as Southern as it gets, and all are available at Hannah's Restaurant.
Hannah says some of the restaurant's recipes have been in her family for more than 70 years.
Since the restaurant opened in June, readers have been pestering the Mail Tribune for a review, so earlier this week my husband, Sean, and I headed over to Cobblestone Village to see what all the excitement was about.
We arrived late — around 7:30 p.m. — to a sparsely populated, 25-booth dining room. After introducing himself, our waiter read off a list of sold-out menu items, including alligator, so we assumed there must have been a crowd earlier in the evening.
A co-worker had warned me that portions were large (and expensive), so we decided to forgo the beer-battered zucchini ($7), rib tips ($12) and other appetizers to leave room for the feast to come.
Sean decided early on that he wanted the Cajun red snapper ($23) and tried desperately to convince me that I wanted the sampler plate ($27), which comes with baby-back ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, barbecued chicken and Louisiana links. I wasn't about to take on that Everest and instead chose jambalaya ($23).
Both of our entrees came with the choice of soup or salad — we chose the chicken and dumpling soup — and Sean's meal came with three additional sides. He chose potato salad, hush puppies and sweet-potato fries from a lengthy list that included fried okra, collard greens, cornbread and candied yams.
Our soup was served at just the right temperature in a shallow bowl. There were slivers of chicken, flat dumplings, celery and onions in a broth that, oddly enough, reminded me of egg flower soup.
Although Hannah says she doesn't cook as spicily as she eats, the jambalaya and the snapper had Sean and I reaching for our water glasses every few bites. However, neither of our dishes compared to the etouffee, which Hannah says is the hottest dish on the menu and is often served with a glass of milk.
The jambalaya was, as Hannah says, "about as Creole as it gets." Six prawns rested on top of a large pile of rice with pieces of breaded chicken and smoky andouille sausage buried underneath.
The red snapper, which is one of the only seafood items sourced from the Pacific Northwest, was covered in a rich, brown Dungeness crab and shrimp sauce that Sean said compensated for the mild-flavored meat. Thankfully, there was only a small serving of each of the sides, leaving room for a piece of Hannah's peach cobbler.
At first glance, we thought Hannah's prices seemed a little steep for a casual dinner out, until we realized how much meat, specifically seafood, comes with each dish. Vegan and vegetarian options are limited.
And if you think I'm joking about Hannah and the alligator, I'm not. Ask her about it next time you're in.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Hannah's is closed Sundays and Mondays.
— Teresa Thomas