By Joni Williams
It’s that time of year again. That’s right, winter. But that doesn’t mean hibernate and wait for spring to have a good time, like so many locals tend to do. What do we look like, bears? Pooh on that! Less sunshine equals less traffic. And what better time of year for a day trip than when you can zip freely up and down interstates and highways and across state lines?
Which is how we wound up at the Wharf in Orange Beach, even though their next big music show isn’t until Spring Break when Luke Bryan hits the stage March 21. But for heaven’s sake, don’t let that stop you from checking it out. Not only is it a quick and easy drive from Beachcomberland, there’s tons of parking and plenty of open venues in the winter.
We weren’t sure if we were there for a late lunch or early dinner. But when we moseyed into Ginny Lane Bar & Grill, we were absolutely sure we were famished. Oddly enough, the timing worked beautifully, as it turns out Ginny Lane’s offers an extensive menu from 4 to 6 p.m. with an assortment of full scale dinners going for an unbelievable eight dollars, like the crisp-on-crispy chicken fried steak we ordered.
We splurged on a New York strip dinner, too, at 14 dollars—it was among the menu’s priciest. And did we mention we always order steak like the restaurant scene out of When Harry Met Sally? No, not that scene. The other one, where Sally describes in great detail how her food should be prepared. What can we say? We’re picky about steaks because more often than not, they always arrive overcooked.
But not this time. Our strip was not only served with a perfect, pinkish red center but was perfectly seasoned and almost fork tender. Both meals were rounded out with plentiful sides, warm bread and sweet, fluffy butter. It was one of the most divine meals we’ve had in recent months at any price. Which is odd, considering we didn’t choose Ginny Lane for their food.
That’s right. We were there for the beer. They’re known for offering some of the South’s finest crafts like Slap Fight, a stellar IPA by Georgia’s Monday Night Brewing, featuring a harmonized blend of pungent, tasty hops. Or Back Forty’s Freckle Belly, almost as good but slightly more piney and bitter.
We went with Fairhope Brewing Company’s No. 51, a deep golden pale ale that’s not too piney with just enough citrus and bitters for balance. It would have been hard for us to pick a dud from a beer list that included Rocket Republic’s Vapor Trail and Fairhope’s Judge Roy Bean Stout. The number of Alabama brewers also offered a fresh alternative to Florida’s standard craft menus. Plus there was an assortment of fun bar drinks like a pear martini, watermelon margarita and banana colada. And with beer prices starting at four bucks and fancy drinks maxing at 10, none will drain the wallet.
The pricing is the only thing that’s cheap. The service was top-notch and the interiors clean, done in an industrial theme with a mural wall, high ceilings, wood floors and comfortable, uncluttered seating. Ginny Lane keeps it interesting by hosting special events throughout the year like girls’ night and specially priced holiday dinners. Natch, the most interesting to us are the beer paired dinners which we hope to catch in 2017, having just missed one on Dec. 30.
We’re sure we don’t have to tell you, but there’s plenty to do if you make the trip to Orange Beach. It’s easy on the eyes, too. Based on our highly delightful visit, even if you go just to check out Ginny Lane, the extra miles and minutes to get there will be totally worth it.
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