Photo taken from 280wordpress site.
Living on the 280 corridor, we are lucky to have a plethora of great restaurants. When going through a mental checklist of where to go for lunch or dinner, it is easy to forget about the tried and true—the restaurants that have served us well for years. Johnny Ray’s at the Colonnade is an example of one of these great restaurants.
Johnny Ray’s originated in Birmingham in the 1950’s and had its original location in Roebuck. Over the years, the family opened satellite locations around the city. The family blessed the 280 corridor with a location at the Colonnade in 1990. After the family sold the location, there was a brief closing, but the doors to the Colonnade re-opened in April 2009 under new owner Shaunte Creel.
Often when we hear the words “new ownership” with respect to old-standing favorites, we are a bit weary of the results. Well, I am here to announce that the barbeque at the Colonnade is as great as you ever remember. As I dined, I found that the “new” owner is not “new” at all. Shaunte has been part of the Johnny Ray’s extended family for years; she began waiting tables at Johnny Ray’s over 20 years ago. It’s easy to tell that she learned a few things because my mouth is still watering for the baked beans with the shreds of barbeque marinated within them.
During my visit, I had a pork barbeque sandwich, chopped inside with extra sauce, baked beans, coleslaw and coconut cream pie. My friend had the 5 rib plate with the same fixin’s on the side. The meal was nothing less than excellent. The sauce was rich with a hint of sweet; just the way I like it! The baked beans, as already discussed, had a special something about them. I am not sure if it was the shreds of barbeque or a special ingredient, but I think that they are the best around. The coleslaw was creamy, which I prefer to a vinegar based slaw any day of the week.
And the pie, oh the pie, I am not sure that I can even describe the pie in words. I guess the best description is that my friend and I practically had a fork fight as we rushed each other for the next bite. I think that we were each terrified that the other might get one more taste; a lack of trust kept our pace at light speed because the pie was out of this world. I suggested that we also get a piece of “Honey’s Award Winning Pie” to go, but we had consumed enough calories for the night… But, oh the pie, save room for the pie.
The menu stretches far beyond ribs and barbeque sandwiches. You could also enjoy a barbeque potato. This is not your everyday baked potato—this potato includes, butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon and the patron’s choice of barbeque pork, beef, or chicken, and the whole thing is topped off with Johnny Ray’s barbeque sauce. In addition, the menu has many barbeque pork and barbeque chicken combination, as well as good, old-fashioned burgers.
As far as the ambiance and the tone—it’s a barbeque restaurant. Get your hands dirty and enjoy yourself. And on your way out, don’t forget to grab a jar of their special barbeque sauce. I know that I won’t be able to produce the same tenderness in my ribs at home, but at least I will have a sauce that will put to shame anything that I could possibly make.