Food for thought: White House offers down home cookin

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The White House restaurant opened its doors a little more than six weeks ago in Alabaster bringing a new sampling of comfort food to the area.

James Pope purchased the restaurant about two years ago. He said opening in Alabaster came out of seeing an opportunity and desiring to be closer to home.

&8220;I grew up around country cooking and I don&8217;t think there is anything else in Alabaster that offers a meat and three like we do,&8221; Pope said.

Don&8217;t mistake The White House for another greasy spoon. The restaurant&8217;s motto is &8220;Down home cookin&8217; with uptown class&8221; and it lives up to its word.

The minute you walk in you can smell the delicious variety of meats and veggies but you also notice the clean family environment created inside.


If you are a history buff or a fan of President Abraham Lincoln you should enjoy the restaurant&8217;s d/cor and theme. Named after the original owners, Betty (White) Smith and her brothers. The restaurant honors the nation&8217;s history through framed newspaper articles depicting infamous events like the Kennedy Assassination and the Watergate scandal. On the back wall there is also a giant mural of the Lincoln Monument.

&8220;Everything is to be patriotic,&8221; Smith said. &8220;We called it the White House because of our name; it wasn&8217;t planned it just kind of dawned on us.&8221;

Country music also plays overhead but it isn&8217;t so overpowering that you can&8217;t have a conversation with others at your table. The restaurant is also kid and senior friendly. Monday through Saturday night kids eat free from the steam table when an adult purchases a meal. Seniors also get a 10 percent discount on those nights.


The patriotic surroundings are translated through the menu. The popular White House Texas burger is a giant eight-ounce sandwich that comes with grilled onions and the restaurants own secret sauce. Smith said the sauce goes on everything from burgers to ribs. There is also the George Washington burger and for females who are watching their figure &8212; a smaller portioned, Martha Washington burger.

The restaurant&8217;s staple though is its steam bar with an assortment of meats and veggies. Each day features new selections that always include fried chicken, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese and is varied with the cook&8217;s own recipes like tomato and cucumber casserole, meat pie and pineapple casserole. The selections are kept fresh and give customers a decent variety of starchy to healthy choices. If none of these items tempt your palette, you can still fare well with straight-from-the-menu selections like the grilled club sandwich or a juicy steak.

The prices are also reasonable. For meat and three you will only drop $5.50 or spend about $10 for a sirloin.


When it comes to service you can&8217;t get much better than having a cook who once catered to celebrities like Elvis and politicians like George Bush, Sr. Mary Ellen Cooper, who has cooked for The White House restaurant in Warrior for the last 16 years, also previously worked for a company that catered at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center. Cooper said no job is too big for her.

&8220;The bigger the crowd the better,&8221; Cooper said. &8220;I just like to cook stuff that people will enjoy. I don&8217;t mind the pressure of a big crowd.&8221;

Her favorite dish to serve up is the Chicken Tetrazini.

Beyond the kitchen, customer Peggy Dison of Calera said the waitresses make you feel at home. &8220;I like the friendly girl who was waiting on us,&8221; Dison said. &8220;She checked on us several times.&8221;

Dison&8217;s friend Maxine Stone said she had an inkling the place would be worth a try.

&8220;I came by here and saw the parking lot was packed full,&8221; Stone said. &8220;So I told Peggy &8212; she had been wanting to try it &8212; that we should eat lunch here. You know a place is good when the parking lot is full.&8221;


844-B Highway 31 South

Alabaster, Al 35007

Phone: 685-5895

Hours: Monday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday 10:30 to 3 p.m