There ain't no bad BBQ in all of Bama.
It's all good ... some more good, some less good.
A darn shame, though, that one's lifetime is too short for visiting all the BBQ places there are between Huntsville and Mobile.
So I decided to scale it down to a more manageable quest - all the 60+ BBQ places in the counties of Madison, Limestone, Morgan, and Lawrence in Northern Alabama (that is the Hunstville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area).
And that is my Great North Alabama BBQ Quest.
Friday, September 27, 2013
Hazel Green Bar-B-Q
Quest Log No 59 – Hazel Green Bar-B-Q Hazel Green, Madison
Although BBQ is a serious affair
here in the south, usually there is also some mild eccentricity involved. Typically,
the quirkiness revolves around pigs, with all kinds of statues, posters,
photos, metal and neon signs displayed in the restaurant.
But if there is a ten foot long smoker
in the backyard that has pig’s ears, nose and eyes out of metal attached to it
- that is the definition of eccentric quirkiness.
And that is what I found outside of
the Hazel Green Bar-B-Q. It actually fits very well the rustic atmosphere of
the restaurant, which is built in a kind of pseudo-log cabin style. Inside,
there is a big room with only four tables with two chairs each, which are metal
patio furniture out of the home improvement store. The window we were sitting
at had just a fly-net and no glass in it, the ceiling was covered with old tin
plates, and the floor looked like the victory circle of a NASCAR speedway, with
black stains all over it. Most of the business, from Friday to Sunday only, is done as carry-out, so I guess
there is no need for more places to sit down, or better furniture, or a
non-stained floor. So, it is very rustic, but also very clean.
As usual, I had the pork plate with
three sides, potato salad, baked beans, and slaw, and my wife had the brisket
with baked beans and slaw. The plates come with a slice of white untoasted
toast bread, and we both had sweet tea, which comes in 16oz plastic bottles
from Milos. For all that, we only paid about
twenty bucks, which is a very fair deal in regards of the amount of food you
The quality, however, was no reason for jubilation.
They claim that all sides are home
made, and I truly believe that. But that in itself is no guarantee that the
taste is something special. In this case, the potato salad and the baked beans
were rather pedestrian, taste-wise. Not bad, don’t get me wrong, but if it says
“homemade” my expectations are a bit more demanding. The slaw, on the other
hand, was kind of sweet, but with a spicy note in it. Very interesting, very
The pork was a bit oily, and had
some fat in it, but it was very tender and had a deliciously smoky aroma. While
one sauce comes with the plate, I allowed myself the luxury to add a second
kind of sauce for a small amount of money. I chose the mustard based Sweet’n’Spicy
and the tomato based Kansas City BBQ Sweet. They also have a white sauce and a
vinegar based Hot and Spicy sauce.
I must admit that I have a soft
spot for mustard based sauces. Mustard and pig just naturally belongs together
in my culinary world, and while this variety here was not bad at all, the
mustard aroma was too strong for my taste. Give the sauce a hint of mustard,
make it the key note in the aroma, but don’t let it take over the show. It was
just too much, almost like pure mustard. And the Kansas City style sauce was just boring, a
concoction with no outstanding features besides its sweetness.
My wife’s brisket also had a very
nice smoke flavor and was very tender, too. But about half of it was pure fat,
and while fat certainly is a carrier of flavor, it is also not very healthy and
too much of it should be avoided. She had the white sauce with it, which we
will deny vehemently if the BBQ police ever get wind of this sacrilege. The
sauce is a thin mayonnaise and vinegar based concoction with, again, no
In summation, I liked the rustic
but very clean environment, and also the price was very good. The food had some
highlights in the slaw and the flavor of the meat, but also had too much fat in
it, and the other sides and the sauces could use some re-work. No bad BBQ here,
but also certainly not one of my go-to places.