The Lighthouse restaurant has been a staple in our community since the ’50s, where it started as a small cafe. The entryway and kitchen are all that is original to the old cafe, with all the additional seating added on throughout the years. A friendly down-home environment that I’m sure started back, in the beginning, has been carried throughout the years and isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
After what I thought would be a short conversation about the history and direction of the business, 45 mins or so later we find ourselves engaged in one of those conversations that lead you to realize this world is not as big as it seems. Turns out, owners: Kendall Stork and Jennifer Stork, grew up with much of my family and our family friends. I was even once their grandsons coach in church league basketball. As foster parents, anywhere that our kids are welcome and loved on like they were during our visit ranks highly on my list. It didn’t take long and owner, Jennifer, had one of our little girls in her arms and showing her off to everybody. A small town business like this one is a dying breed, the type of place where not everyone is on their cell phone and the chatter from the conversations is all you hear. The experience is like bringing you back when times were slower, and you are not rushed to place your order so that they can fill that seat when you leave. As I mentioned in my last article, I have a high standard for seafood. So going to a seafood restaurant is usually a visit where I come away thinking, “ Mawmaw’s (fill in the blank) was better.” But this place is like “Mawmaw’s” cooking. Everybody around knows Lighthouse is known for their crab claws but did you know they go through roughly 300 pounds of crab claws a week? Also, their homemade ranch dressing has been the gold standard for any ranch dressing that my wife tries.
We started with sweet teas, because who can eat seafood without sweet tea? We ordered a seafood platter and a whole flounder. With each entree comes two sides, of which you can choose are your typical sides for a seafood place plus corn nuggets. On the seafood platter, you receive; fried shrimp, oysters, fish, stuffed crab, hush puppies and of course the famous crab claws paired with mac-n-cheese and fried okra. We had no complaints with this dish at all, as I said earlier, it’s like “Mawmaw’s” cooking. Everything was fried, so it’s not necessarily your “healthy” choice when looking over the menu. But like the sweet tea, who wants seafood that isn’t fried? Every item brought me back home and to my childhood of washing dishes or bussing tables while my mom waited tables.
The whole flounder was precisely as it sounds, a whole fried flounder served with hush puppies. Our sides were a house salad (with the famous ranch dressing of course) and potato salad. The flounder swallowed the plate it was served on, both sides of the fish fried crispy and the flaky white meat picked right off the bone. The sides we ordered was overshadowed by the main dishes but were very delicious in the own way. The mac-n-cheese was a little untraditional as it was made with a more of a white cheese sauce, unlike your traditional cheddar cheese. The potato salad was how I like it, more of a mustard flavor than mayonnaise. Fried okra has always been one of my go-to sides, as it pairs well with many entrees.
I also learned of a few items that you could consider to be on the “secret menu.” Named after some of the local regulars, the Jax and the Robo, well you will have to ask next time you come in. It’s nice to be able to support local businesses all while having that down-home experience that we all love.
Lighthouse Restaurant is located at 12495 Padgett Switch Rd Irvington, Alabama 36544.