Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Gibson's Bar-B-Q (Memorial Pkwy)

Quest Log No13 –Gibson’s Bar-B-Q
Memorial Parkway, Huntsville, Madison County

How often does it happen that you a greeted and seated by a hostess in a BBQ joint?
They also serve the meals on actual chinaware, with metal silverware. This has to be like the crown jewel standard of BBQ restaurants. No Styrofoam, no plastic (except for the drinking cups …), no butcher paper for a plate – I was impressed.
A few months back, I already went to the other restaurant of the Gibson’s Bar-B-Q mini-chain in Huntsville on Whitesburg Drive (there are only those two places), and found the atmosphere to be … well, underwhelming.
Not so in their Memorial Parkway location, which is their main base and it clearly shows.
The dining hall is spacious, bright and very clean. On the menu, they claim that they are here since 1956, and that is about the vintage of the current furniture, too.
It is all wooden, with noticeable bumps and bruises in its dark colored surfaces, but very well maintained and you won’t find quick fixes by duct tape anywhere. It has clearly aged in style and it contributes quite nicely to the overall homey and friendly atmosphere of the place.
The service is also very friendly and also quick and responsive. So, while the external conditions are quite favorable, what about the food then? At least I do not usually go to a BBQ place to delight myself on the view, but to have some good stuff to eat.

Well, do not fret, it’s all here. As usual, I had the large pork plate with slaw and potato salad. They also serve hushpuppies with the meal, and I got four of those. And they are not exactly skimpy with the meat, either, so the amount of food was thus very gratifying for the fifteen bucks I had to pay for it.
Same goes for the quality – excellent!
The pulled pork had a distinctive but not overpowering smoke flavor to it, with a nice pink ring and some seriously tasty bark on top. It was more on the dry side, not as moist and succulent as in other places, but it was also very tender and very lean and had no pockets of fat in it, as I had to experience at another joint, also with Gibson in its name, not so long ago.
I have to admit, I like it when the meat is a bit more on the dry side – gives me an excuse to pour lots and lots of sauce over it.

You have the choice between two original sauces, a run-of-the-mill bottled hot sauce and the ubiquitous ketchup. The first sauce is thick and red, and although there actually is some sweetness to it, it has also a good amount of spiciness, It is not too hot, though, and would not leave a tingling impression in your mouth. For that, they have the second sauce, which has bit more thrust in that direction. It looks like a vinegar/oil basis with some ground chili and other peppers in it.
Mixed together in the correct ratio, it comes quite near to what I would call the perfect BBQ sauce.
They also have a white sauce on the table that is kind of vinegary/sour/peppery, which goes perfectly with the somewhat sweet hushpuppies.
The potato salad is made from scratch, which I was able to observe since the potatoes for next day’s batch were peeled and cut at a neighboring table (as usual, I was there after the lunch rush had been run out, so the crew had time to take care of some scores). The taste is leaning towards the sour side, but with a deliciously sweet undercurrent. Not the best potato salad I ever had, but definitely in the top ten.
The only disappointment is the cole slaw, which is rather watery, with extremely small cut pieces, and without any discernable taste.

But other than that quite miniscule grief, Gibson’s Bar-B-Q on Memorial Parkway in Huntsville is one of the best places to get your BBQ fix in Northern Alabama. 

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