It’s Big, It’s Bad, It’s Big Bad Breakfast

IMG_1837by Jan Walsh     

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Big Bad Breakfast recently opened in Birmingham, located at 5361 U.S. 280. The restaurant is open from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., seven days a week, offering an expansive breakfast menu, along with a selection of lunch items. 

Birmingham’s Big Bad Breakfast is the second location of Oxford, Mississippi, chef John Currence’s original in Oxford. So what’s with the name? I recently interviewed Currence and asked just that. “I have always been catastrophically awful at the naming process,” he explains. “And I was trying to come up with a name for this Oxford restaurant, while having a bad day thinking about an Oxford author, my friend and influencer, Larry Brown, who had recently passed away.” According to Currence, Brown’s favorite meal was breakfast, but he typically slept until mid-afternoon and never got up in time for it. With Big, Bad Love being the first book of Brown’s that Currence ever read, he decided to “do breakfast like it had never been done before,” and name the restaurant, “Big Bad Breakfast” as a tribute to Brown.


The Restaurant 

Warm, roughhewn woods are juxtaposed alongside cold, shiny stainless steel and walls of windows in this casual atmosphere, filled with natural light. The 3,600-square-foot restaurant seats 104 diners inside and another 60 on the shady, tree-lined patio dotted with umbrella tables. One of the restaurants partners, John Michael Bodnar, is credited with the design, which includes a retail counter for those who want to take home Big Bad Breakfast’s bacon and sausage or their branded T-shirts and mugs.
The People 

In addition to Big Bad Breakfast, Currence’s City Grocery Restaurant Group’s lineup of Oxford restaurants includes City Grocery, Lamar Lounge, Snackbar, and Bouré. Currence holds the accolade of the James Beard Foundation’s 2009 “Best Chef South” and is also the author of his own James Beard nominated cookbook, Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey. Nick Pihakis—cofounder of Birmingham-based Jim ’N Nick’s Bar-B-Q—is a partner in the Fresh Hospitality Group with Bodnar and his father, Michael Bodnar. The Fresh Hospitality Group partnered with Currence to open the Alabama location. Leo Oliver is the local chef, and James Claborn is the operating partner of the Birmingham location.


Favorite Fare 

Favorite beverages of the morning are a caramel cappuccino, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, and a breakfast margarita. The tangy, tasty red grapefruit juice arrives cold in a tall glass, getting the meal off to a perfect start. The margarita, in a low ball on the rocks with a salted rim, includes Prosecco, making for a memorable and delicious drink. And the cappuccino is perfectly balanced, rich and flavorful without being sweet, with the last sip delivering an extra “bite” of caramel that settled to the bottom.

IMG_1844.jpgAmong our favorite dishes are the brûléed grapefruit, the buttermilk short stack, the country traveler, and the home fries. The brûlée adds a shimmer to the two halves of red grapefruit. The crust does not break down into the fruit, yet some of its sweetness has cooked its way into the grapefruit, balancing the tanginess with a touch of sugar in this beautiful dish.

The buttermilk short stack is a scrumptious plate of three thick, fluffy pancakes with fresh sliced strawberries, topped with one large scoop of whipped cream and one large scoop of butter—I’ve never had better. The hearty pancakes are moist and evenly cooked. And the Andouille adds a generous amount of protein to the plate. Bananas, blueberries, chocolate chips, and pecans are also options for pancake toppings.

The country traveler pays homage to the country ham, rather than Canadian bacon, found in this Benedict dish. I requested free-range eggs (available for an additional fee) and enjoyed the two flavor-filled poached eggs atop a generous amount of real country ham—like my grandmother cooked—on a toasty English muffin. This dish is topped with hollandaise and a dried powder, made of the same ham, sprinkled on top. And down to the last bite, we cannot resist our home fries, cooked with onion. We will be back for more, as this was one big, great breakfast!

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