Making the Grade: On the Road to Lanett, Alabama

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STACEY PATTON WALLACE

By STACEY
PATTON WALLACE

LANETT —

Awhile back, Mike and I traveled to Lanett, Alabama, for a most painful reason: filing our income tax return. Since the experience was so unpleasant, we decided to treat ourselves to the world’s best chicken fingers.

  Now, as I’ve mentioned many times in my last 62 columns, I prefer my fried chicken the way God intended for it to be eaten: on the bone. However, since I discovered chicken fingers, probably back in the ‘80s, I am sometimes in the mood for them instead.

PHOTOS BY MIKE WALLACE

  Therefore, in today’s column, I will tell you where to find the Best Chicken Fingers Ever … The Chicken Stop at 2824 S. Phillips Road in Lanett, Alabama.

  Since Mike and I were licking our wounds after meeting with our accountant, we sought relief in the form of fried chicken. As most Southerners know, fried chicken can improve any terrible event. At least a little bit.

  The Chicken Stop opened in the present location in 2003; the owners were Sheryl and Karen Stone. Unfortunately, Sheryl died that year, so his wife Karen owns and operates the restaurant.

  When Mike and I taught in LaGrange, Georgia, we often visited The Chicken Stop for our fried chicken fix since it’s only 17 miles from Long Cane Middle School, our former home away from home.

  When I told Patricia, the sweet lady and the manager who always took our order that we were moving to Auburn I asked her if the owner could please open up a second Chicken Stop near us. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

  However, when we came in the restaurant awhile back, Patricia recognized us right away and beamed her welcoming smile. Also, she even remembered what we used to order; that’s really impressive because we’ve lived in Auburn since 2015 and rarely venture up I-85 unless we have to do so.

  Now, something I’ve ALWAYS admired at The Chicken Stop is that the restaurant receives a 100 for its Health Department score. I’m very OCD about germs, so that makes me very happy.

  So when I saw a score of 98 (still terrific), I asked Patricia about it. Patricia said, “Because someone went in the restroom and tore something off the wall right before the health inspector came, we were given a 98 instead of a 100; that’s the only reason we didn’t receive our usual 100.” There you go.

  Mike and I placed our usual order: a five-piece chicken tender plate with one order of Cajun rice for Mike and one order of French fries for me, two drinks and one slice of strawberry cake to share (We treated ourselves to the cake.).

  What makes The Chicken Stop’s chicken fingers my favorite ones on the planet? Easy answer: They are delicious, being lightly breaded, golden brown and HUGE. You don’t have to wade through 10 layers of breading to get to the chicken. Also, the fingers are so big, Mike and I have to split five fingers and eat only two-and-a-half of them each. This “Pooh-sized” English teacher is telling the truth. We just order an extra side.

  As always, our food was AMAZING. We have NEVER been disappointed at The Chicken Stop; that’s very unusual. Also, I love the toasted hamburger bun that comes with the meal and the wonderful dipping sauce.

  In addition, The Chicken Stop has delectable desserts, which are mouthwateringly homemade. Our strawberry cake? Oh, my three times.

  Many years ago, I made my dear friend Tanya Simms a strawberry cake for her birthday. As I’ve mentioned before, Tanya was on my team at LCMS; she taught social studies. Despite my friend Dottie Meacham’s great coaching (Dottie is an outstanding caterer in LaGrange; she even makes wedding cakes.), I burned one of the three cake layers, threw it in the trash and called our dear friend Bill Bush, who was our math teacher. Near tears, I told him what had happened. Bill, a wonderful cook and baker, was so sweet and tried to console me, bless his heart.

  My remaining two layers were crooked, looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa; it was the world’s ugliest cake. Also, the one-and-a-half boxes of Confectioner’s sugar in the recipe almost put me in a diabetic coma. After we had all eaten a piece of cake at lunch, we went back to class. I had to teach on a terrific sugar high. Therefore, I let the experts make the cakes. I stick to pies, which are much easier to make.

  Besides the best chicken fingers in the world, The Chicken Stop also serves: catfish (I understand that this is really delicious, too, but I can’t give up my chicken fingers.), hamburger steaks, wings, hamburgers, subs and sandwiches.

  Again, the restaurant has a variety of wonderful, homemade cakes. The Chicken Stop’s sign out front says: “Chicken worth stopping for.” In the words of my much older brother Jim, “Boy, you ain’t just wuffin’!” Run and do not walk to The Chicken Stop. It is definitely worth the drive.

  The Chicken Stop is closed on Sunday. The restaurant is open on Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Eastern Time)

  The Chicken Stop makes the grade with an A+ from this retired English teacher. Remember, “Pooh-sized” people NEVER lie about food. Enjoy!

  Stacey Patton Wallace, who retired from teaching language arts for 30 years, is a professional diner. Her column, “Making the Grade,” will appear each week in The Observer. Stacey may be reached at retiredlangartsteacher2020@gmail.com

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