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Friday, June 22, 2007

High on the Hog

Borrowing from Kate/Susan's blog entry on her quest to find the world's best sub, I'd like to take the time to enlighten you on my quest to find a decent BBQ place in Savannah, GA.

To start out, my quest was not just for the BBQ, but also the sides that go with. Here is my idea of BBQ nirvana:

*Pulled pork or ribs with a sweet, tomato and brown sugar/molasses-based sauce. Good hickory smoke taste but not so much that if you burp an hour or two later it doesn't taste like you just licked a fireplace log. :) And please, dear God, don't use any of that imitation smoke flavor! That just ain't right.

* A chunky potato salad (fresh please - again, don't give me the crap from the bucket that you bought from Sam's or wherever with the mushy potato chunks). I love red potato salad the best, but as long as it's potato I'm happy. It's best with a bit of hard-boiled egg, mustard, green onions, diced dill pickle (not sweet), and just enough sour cream and mayo to blend it all together.

* BBQ baked beans I like, but they're a negligible part of my perfect meal. I can love 'em or leave 'em. If they came from a can, have to be doctored with some brown sugar, a little BBQ sauce, mustard, and some bacon - even better if you throw some chopped green pepper and onions in the mix. If you want to throw in a handful of chopped BBQ meat in there - well, I won't complain. And after all that, it's got to be baked for a while so that it's not all runny. I've been to places where they just open up a can of Van Camp's pork-n-beans, slap it on your plate, and say, "Enjoy." If you're lucky, you might get that little chunk of fat with your beans. Then your life will be complete.

*Brunswick Stew - This I would consider a side, but I've been known to eat it on its own as a meal with a side of garlic Texas toast. Yum. My version consists of chicken and BBQ pork, tomato sauce, corn, chunks of potatoes and tomatoes, corn, onions, lima beans, and corn. Did I mention corn? Yeah, I like corn - why do you ask??

*And it is all served with some sort of bread (roll, Texas toast, garlic bread - whatever) and a big glass of sweet iced tea.

When we lived in Savannah, my favorite place to go was a chain restaurant called "Red, Hot and Blue". They had good BBQ, I loved their ribs which I would always get with the dry rub and put their "Sufferin' Sweet" sauce on - sweet and just a hint of spice but not hot. They had excellent red potato salad, and the beans were OK - not the best I've had - but the potato salad more than made up for it. I would occasionally get the Brunswick stew there. My heart was broken the day they closed the restaurant down. I heard they wanted to make the place more of a sports bar and grill type place and the owners wouldn't hear of it so they closed it down altogether. It's now the 2nd location of a popular local upscale hamburger restaurant. I missed RH&B so much after they closed that when Tal and I went to Raleigh, NC a couple of years ago that's one place we had to eat!

A local restaurant named Carey Hilliard's has OK BBQ. The meat is pretty good. I don't care much for their sauce. It's a tomato/mustard/vinegar hybrid. The potato salad I think may be the prepackaged kind and their beans are canned. The Brunswick stew is OK, too, but kind of soupy and thin on veggies (especially corn). I do, however, love their pork club sandwich which is a few slices of their BBQ pork, bacon, cheese, lettuce, and tomato on white bread. Mmmm-MM!

Tal and I came across a BBQ restaurant in Bloomingdale, GA (just outside of Savannah) called Black Jack's. I wasn't thrilled with their BBQ. The meat tasted OK but was too finely chopped. The potato salad was not much more than potato salad flavored mashed potatoes with a few pieces of pickle and onion. The beans were directly from the can. And the Brunswick stew, well it TASTED like Brunswick stew but I suspected they must have cooked it, pureed it, then tossed in a couple of kernels of corn to give it substance. I have the feeling that the majority of their clientele live in the woods surrounding the community and specialize in banjo-playing and making people squeal like pigs.

We've also tried another restaurant in Guyton, GA not far from where we live. I can't remember the name of the place. For some reason I don't remember much about the place. I guess I was too distracted by the advertisement on the placemat for "The Cake Lady". The BBQ must not have been much, or I would have remembered it. :)

Yet another BBQ restaurant, even further out from Bloomingdale, is Baxter's BBQ. Now, their ribs are awesome. I didn't have any BBQ but I think Talmadge had some and liked it. I don't believe I had any Brunswick stew there. Potato salad and beans were also not very memorable.

Talmadge's BBQ nirvana is based in Columbia, SC at a place called "Piggy Park". Maurice's has several locations. We can be found most often and the main location in Columbia, or just up the street (I-95) from us in Santee, SC. Pretty good BBQ. The meat is good and the sauce is a mustard/apple vinegar base - otherwise known as "Carolina Gold". All the other sides are middling. A standard side in their dinners is Carolina Hash - from what I can see it's ground up BBQ pork mixed with some other things to a reddish-brown pudding consistency and served over rice. Tastes OK, if you can get past the looks. They don't have potato salad.

My BBQ nirvana of the moment is at a little shop in Pooler, GA (between Savannah and Bloomingdale). It's called L.I.P.S. - Little Italy Pizza and Subs/Hunter Mountain BBQ. The BBQ is good, if not a little heavy on the smoke, ribs are good too but sometimes not very meaty. I do like their potato salad and beans - almost perfection! But the best thing is their Brunswick Stew. It's a tad bit on the soupy side but it's loaded with chunks of potatoes, chicken, BBQ pork tomatoes, lima beans, and enough corn to make me very happy! It's also got a bit of spice to it, just enough for a tiny kick.

We've also been to Sticky Fingers in Savannah. Meh, it's OK, their BBQ and potato salad is good, kind of on the pricey side but I like it OK.

We have a BBQ place in Rincon that I haven't quite gotten up the nerve to try. G&B Rib's N' Things. I would like to try it some day, I just hope it doesn't disappoint and becomes my new BBQ nirvana. Simply because it's so much closer to home than all the others! I'll certainly give a report on that when I do try it!

Man.....now I've got a craving for some of that Brunswick Stew from L.I.P.S.! {{{sigh}}}

2 high-fives:

Talmadge G. said...

Honey, you're getting all ..... snarky on me. Has we been together that many years? ;-)

LIPS? You can like it for me, I'm afraid. But I'm with you -- BBQ around here leaves much to be desired.

But that place in Bloomingdale ... yeeeeeesh, I felt like we were the only ones with separate family trees.

XXXXXXXXX
Tal

nettiemac said...

Long live Piggy Park --- we gotta meet up there again and SOON!