The pink tiles of the restaurant complement the 12 red stools along the diner's counter. On the other side of this close, squeeze-by-excuse-me establishment, larger groups can sit at one of the four tables. The tables are aligned by big windows - perfect vantage points for watching Mardi Gras crowds wander by, said, then manager Tim Murphy. The Well-Fed Reporter and Companion marveled at the two, muted televisions on either end of the joint - one with the Gladys Knight interview special and another with a Garth Brooks video. On the juke box, jammed into the far corner of the small place, high-powered dance tunes gave the energetic waiters an excuse to shake a move on the way to take our order. It's the sort of place where locals come in to chat with one another or with the extroverted wait staff. Here, we found folks in berets and baseball caps, wearing anything from black leather to khakis. And we noticed most folks take heed of the sign near the door, "Be Nice or Leave." For those who doubt the sassy nature of this diner, another sign proclaims: "Everyone brings happiness into this business. Some when they come in. Others when they leave." Accustomed as we are to straight-forward menus in restaurants around Mobile and Baldwin counties, it took us a while to get used to the Clover's menu--that reads like a Letterman monologue.Just reading the menu at the Clover is a hilarious adventure through the owners' sense of humor. In fact, the practice of swiping the laugh-a-minute menus became so popular that they've finally started printing take-home copies for patrons. Here are a few gems, straight from the (photocopied) menu we carted back to Mobile: "If you're not served in 5 minutes, it may be another 5. Relax. This isn't New York City." "Dancing in the aisles only. Please keep off the tables." "We're here to serve people and make people feel they are prettier than they really are." And, true to its Bourbon Street location, the menu includes this admonition: "No strange tricks at tables, please. Please keep hands on top of the table. No talking to yourself." Once we laughed our way through the menu, a charming waiter - with the "uniform" T-shirt "We love to fry and it shows" - took our order. This is the kind of place for folks who need a good solid meal for a reasonable price. Check your calorie counters at the door. As Murphy, the manager, said: "The people who come in, they may go out to the fancy restaurants, but they'll eat their basic meals here." Clover Omelet's, and that's the way they spell it, were first concocted "in a trailer park in Chalmette, Louisiana," the menu boasts. The three-egg creations kept the WFR happy during the last visit to the Clover Grill. A Plain Jane Omelet goes for $5.29 and comes with hash browns or grits and toast. They'll add in cheese, bacon, turkey, sausage, chili or mushrooms for a bit more. This visit, the WFR tried a BLT, with crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes and hot, crisp bacon. It was a treat for $4.99.Hub Cap Hamburgers - We cook our burgers under a Hub Cap!Meanwhile, the WFC decided on one of the "World's Most Delicious Burgers" - as the outside sign modestly boasts. The house specialty, a mushroom bacon cheeseburger, costs only $9.98, a Plain Jane, $5.79. Be a sport; the heaps of succulent mushrooms are worth the extra dollar. The WFR and WFC also requested two orders of Clover Fries at $2.79 each, and they came sizzling to the table. Mustard and ketchup are on the tables; mayonnaise comes on most sandwiches. For others, whose delicate stomachs can't handle the fried food, try the "Flawless Geaux Girl Waffles!" - plain, served with syrup for $5.49. The creativity doesn't stop with the menu writing, however. They'll add nuts, fruits or ice cream to the creation. The waffles are delicious and freshly made for each customer. As the menu says, "Eat Well, Feel Swell." The 24-hour regimen means that the restaurant has shifts "just like a hospital," says waiter Will. They are: 7 am to 3 p.m.; 3 p.m. to 11 pm; 11 P.M. to 7a.m. They clean the grill at every shift change. If you happen upon the Clover then, as we did, expect to wait a moment. The stickers above the grill have been there for a while: GimmeMoraDat. Clocks on the wall show time in different locales - including Chalmette and Baton Rouge. Also a Bob Dole Clock, stuck irrevocably on the 11th hour. During summer, you'll find cheerful daisies adorning the window sill, but during holidays you'll get poinsettias. As the WFR and WFC left, to head back out to more research on Bourbon Street, we noticed a last bit of advice from the menu: "Have Character. Don't be one."
Article as found in the Mobile Register ~ Friday, January 17th, 1997 ~ The Well Fed Reporter