Since Anonymous was out town this week, even Bunny got a break and I was glad because he seems to just wear her out with so much dining. She needs three or four of herself just to keep up with him and his insatiable appetite. So since I am the owner and publisher (which means I get to take out the trash, too, when no one else will do it) I am taking over his anonymous restaurant review this week.
You may be surprised because Ted’s is not a fancy wine place. It has simple food and avoids the limelight, tucked in behind Highway 65 on the Southside.
It is the quintessential meat and three you are always looking for in small towns on a drive in the country. If you have ever been disappointed when you stopped in Brewton, ordered soup, and watched them open a can of Campbell’s, then you will be much happier eating fried chicken, collard greens, and squash casserole in the shadow of downtown Birmingham and UAB.
In 2000, Tasos and Beba Touloupis took over the Southern food icon that had been a Birmingham institution since 1973, from Ted and Litsa. I think Tasos has been there himself every day since, bright and early, and has kept it going strong and true to its roots, though he is not that much of a good old boy himself.
I often tell him and he pretends it does not annoy him that Tasos is Greek for Ted, even though it’s not true--that never stopped me. It is a fact, however, that Ted’s is part of the Birmingham Originals, an organization of the locallyowned restaurants with a commitment to the food producers and consumers of this community.
Even with my Princeton education, I had been meaning to go there for a long time because of the ads I had seen in the Birmingham Weekly. That part is true.
When I finally went last year I had the best chicken livers I ever ate—they would call them salt-and-pepper style in China but they are just plain old Southern with a light crisp breading and hot moist flesh around here.
I even talked about them on Chef Benard’s show on the radio, those chicken livers were so delicious.
So ever since then I take all my Yankee friends who are visiting Birmingham to Ted’s for breakfast. I did it this very morning, in fact, so I speak from experience.
And I like it that people come in to Ted’s from all walks (yes, they let Yankees in so no fake ID is necessary). You see everyone from regular salaried workers to the people who bring us the Rushton Concert almost every day. I am going to bring in Zhang Haochen for eggs and bacon next time he is in town.
Yes, Ted’s can even be international, too, but the closest thing they have to French is an omelette. No crepes. Down home sausage patties or bacon with your eggs, yes. Oh, they do have French toast, I almost forgot, but it is cooked on the griddle—not some fancy soufflé type on moldy French bread like you might see in Mountain Brook Village.
You shouldn’t even expect a lot of Feta cheese and olives, despite Tasos’ Greek roots (though they do have Baklava)— he’s from Alabama now.
Yes, I know if Anonymous were here he would give us a history lecture, like Thucydides, on how food was affected by the Peloponnesian Wars that would rival Pericles’ great funeral oration on the fallen Spartans and Athenians. I’m not such an international man of mystery, however. I find the country girls find that far too complicated. So I’m going to stick with my down home cooking, and that’s my story today.
Ted’s Restaurant 328 12th Street South, Birmingham,35233 (205) 324-2911 Open Weekdays 6:30-9:30am and 10:30am-2pm