Fox Valley Restaurant, Maylene
Located in a modest-looking strip mall on a county highway about 20 miles from Birmingham, Fox Valley's celebrated crab cakes are well worth the trek.
Although chef Anthony Mangold won't reveal the secret recipe, he confirms that fresh blue lump crab is the main ingredient. "If it's not blue crab, we won't use it," he says. "If it's not fresh, we won't use it." Crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, the Maryland-style crab cakes are served with brown garlic butter. The recipe came from Mangold's partner, Sue Lemieux, who is from the Chesapeake Bay area, and the chefs began serving it at Fox Valley 20 years ago. At first, they questioned whether local customers would even be interested in the dish. "We were conflicted about whether it was something we wanted to try,” Mangold says. "Well, it turned out to be a big hit."
Demand for the dish is high, with a large percentage of customers ordering crab cakes either as an appetizer or an entree. Mangold says the Steak and Cake, a chargrilled petite filet mignon and crab cake, is by far the most popular item on the menu.