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Front Page - Friday, December 1, 2023

Another great option for ‘Big’ Chattanooga breakfast

Big Bad Breakfast offers competition to local favorites

The Cathead Chicken Biscuit at Big Bad Breakfast comes with crispy fried chicken, melted cheddar cheese and chunky sausage gravy. - Photograph provided

There are several great ways to start a day. You can wake up while it’s still dark outside and get a jump on the work you have to do, you can go for a jog or do yoga, or you can meditate on the day ahead or read a devotional, if that’s your thing.

Now that Big Bad Breakfast has come to Chattanooga, there are dozens of great ways to start the day under a single roof. Sorry for spoiling the ending, but after devouring an order of the chain’s Cathead Chicken Biscuit yesterday, I’ve been itching to gush about the place.

Perhaps you noticed a dirty word in the above paragraph – chain. Since Chattanooga is home to native eateries like Aretha Frankenstein’s, Kenny’s Southside, Bluegrass Grill and more, you might wonder why a chain would bother. But then the city wouldn’t have quality spots like First Watch, Puckett’s and Maple Street Biscuit Company.

We also wouldn’t have Big Bad Breakfast, which opened recently enough that there’s still a sign on Manufacturer’s Road declaring its grand opening in the same complex as Whole Foods.

To claim a slice of a crowded market, a restaurant would be wise to offer a dining experience that stands out, or at least bring a little attitude to the mix. The name Big Bad Breakfast implies they have attitude, but is their menu just as brash?

Browsing the breakfast menu is certainly appetizing. BBB also has a lunch menu, but I wasn’t there to order a Turkey and Swiss or a Smash Burger, I wanted to sample their versions of the most important meal of the day.

Like Cracker Barrell, many of BBB’s dishes are the kind that were surely crafted in kitchens in the South. From the Big Bad Skillet (scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, onion, potatoes and cheddar cheese) and Flapjacks (the fluffy buttermilk variety) to the Redneck Benny (an open-faced buttermilk biscuit with sliced ham, poached eggs and either sausage gravy or hollandaise sauce) and avocado toast (OK, there’s no way a southerner came up with that), there’s a lot of southern comfort on the menu.

BBB also has a few house specialties worth noting. Among these are the Fried Oyster Scramble, a nearly $20 breakfast plate consisting of scrambled eggs, bacon, onion, tomatoes, potatoes and mayo topped with fried Gulf oysters and sliced jalapenos.

Continuing in this vein, the Huevos Ranchero’s Grit Bowl is a marriage of two great concepts. BBB takes a serving of Weisenberger grits and chicken and pork sausage and adds saucy black beans, crispy tortillas, cilantro mojo, pico de gallo, sliced avocado and eggs. “Because no breakfast menu is complete without a nod to the Rancheros of Mexico,” the restaurant’s menu reads.

For the eat-on-the-go crowd (BBB accepts pickup orders through bigbadbreakfast.com/locations/chattanooga), BBB also offers the Keke’s Wrap, which sounds like a burrito, but is actually a delicious fistful of breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs (BBB’s egg scrambler must work overtime), breakfast sausage, onion, tomatoes, bell peppers and cheddar cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla and served with lime crema.

I could also tell you about the omelets (which include vegetarian options), coffees, fresh-squeezed juices, cocktails and more. But it’s time to offer my thoughts about the Cathead Chicken Biscuit.

How do I describe it? Imagine two fried chicken tenders from Chick-fil-A placed on an open-faced biscuit from Aretha Frankenstein’s and smothered in sausage gravy from Bluegrass Grill and topped with cheddar cheese from wherever. (Because at that point, how much better could it be?) Yeah, it’s really good.

I wish the service were better, though. Maybe it was grand opening jitters or an off day, but not only did I feel like I grew a five o’clock shadow waiting for my food during the tail end of lunch, I had to wave down the idle bartender after pushing my plate forward and waiting for my check for more than 10 minutes.

Fortunately, the flapjack I’d added to my order had gone straight to my head and I was in a good mood. Plus, waiting gave me time to read the BBB origin story, which begins in 2008 with chef John Currence opening the first restaurant in Oxford, Mississippi, in an effort to share the foods he ate at his grandmother’s breakfast table and the mom-and-pop diners of New Orleans. Today, BBB has spread across the south like soft butter on a steamy flapjack.

If you can hit the sweet spot with the service, you might leave in a good mood, too. BBB is certainly worth a test ride and one of several great ways to start a day in Chattanooga.