Food 6/10 – Coronary on a plate – Lambert’s offers fairly standard “country cooking” – lots of grease and calories with very generous portions.
Service 10/10 – There was a huge crowd, but our waiter was seldom far from our table and cheerfully handled all requests. Even though Lambert’s definitely is not a “high-end” restaurant, the service was top notch.
Decor/Interior 6/10 – The restaurant is basic, but nice. There are varied pictures and signs on the walls. For instance, I noticed a photo of Jack Lambert, Hall of Fame linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Get the joke?). Lambert’s has several huge booths – making it easy for them to accommodate large groups.
Prices 7/10 – About right – we paid $39 + tip for 2 adults & one child. Drinks are huge, but a bit pricy at $2.49 (with unlimited refills).
My wife (The Mojowoman), kids, and I have been spending a lot of time at the beach and that means we often travel up and down Highway 59. When driving through Foley, Alabama, it’s impossible to miss Lambert’s Cafe, as it is always packed. Lambert’s also has a lot of advertising announcing that it’s “Home of Throwed Rolls.”
Many times we have made fun of Lambert’s, joking about the hoi polloi who think that throwing bread is funny. While driving by, I’ll often use my best redneck accent to say, “Hey Bubba, could ya hit me in the hay-yud with another un uv one of them thar rolls?” This always makes my fetching wife giggle like a schoolgirl. After we speed by Lambert’s in our new, loaded Jaguar, we turn on NPR, sip our lattes, then discuss why it’s great to be in the top 1% and how difficult it is to find good foie gras in Mobile.
But last Saturday we felt like doing some slumming. So we ate at Lambert’s – and it was good.
In all seriousness, we did go to Lambert’s for the first time and the best description that I can use is “Cracker Barrel on steroids” – it’s country cooking with HUGE portions. Lambert’s Cafe is an odd name for the place, as the word “cafe” makes me think of a smaller place with a different menu.
Apparently, lots of people also thought that Saturday night would be a perfect time to head to Lambert’s. But the staff told us that our wait would be only about 25 minutes and that turned out to be pretty accurate.
While the wait wasn’t long, it was probably the worst part of the experience; it was raining outside, so everyone crammed under the available shelter. It felt claustrophobic. Also, Lambert’s has this strange system where there are two lines; first, you wait after taking a number and then they call you to line up when you are close to being seated. I’m probably missing something, but the point of the second line is lost on me.
We were dining with a huge group – ten people including three very small children. Naturally, I was worried about how the kids would do, but it all turned out well. Lambert’s isn’t a bad place to take small kids because it’s so loud and hectic that diners at other tables won’t notice anything as trivial as a baby wailing like a banshee. Joking aside, all three kids (ages two, one, and one) did well at dinner and seemed to enjoy it.
In our family, everyone went for the chicken. I had chicken tenders with mashed potatoes, green beans, and a massive sweet tea. My food was good, though not the best I’ve ever enjoyed. The Mojowoman had chicken and dumplings (good), baked sweet potato with brown sugar (great), and sweet tea. I’d give the food a 6/10 for taste and a 10/10 for the size of the portions.
Our elder daughter (Minimojo) had a chicken and dumpling kid’s meal that would easily serve most adults. (We still have the leftovers in the fridge). Our younger daughter (Micromojo) had to settle for the snacks that we brought from home.
In case you don’t get enough food from the glutton-sized portions, Lambert’s also offers what are called “pass arounds.” Servers bring huge stockpots from the kitchen and ask if anyone at the table wants the pass around in the pot. With the purchase of your meal, you get the pass arounds for no additional charge. Given the huge amount of food in front of me, I tried only one pass around – fried okra – and it was excellent.
Every ten minutes or so, someone comes out from the kitchen and offers hot rolls to the diners and the people who are waiting in line. You raise your hand if you want one and they toss it to you with dead-eye accuracy. On my request, they threw two rolls at me and I surprised myself by catching both of them. To me, the rolls are about like the rest of the food at Lambert’s – huge and pretty good. Our older daughter loved the roll that I caught for her. A word of warning – the rolls are right out of the oven and they are HOT.
One great thing about our visit was the service. In spite of the huge crowd, our waiter (Rich) was by our table every few minutes with updates on the status of orders and – after the food arrived – with questions about whether we were enjoying the meal. When my wife wanted plastic cutlery for our daughter’s meal, he got it to us with a smile. Overall, we received the sort of service that you would expect from a much-pricier restaurant.
An important thing to remember is that Lambert’s does not take plastic. You may pay by cash or check. There is an ATM in the lobby that you can use (for a $2 fee) if you don’t bring cash.
Lambert’s is a good, solid choice for a big meal if you are in Foley, Gulf Shores, or Orange Beach. The food is good, though not spectacular. We definitely will return with the kids, though we’ll probably still make jokes about “throwed rolls.”