Friday, September 2, 2011

Moe's Original Bar B Que

Quest Log No18 – Moe’s Original Bar B Que
Cecil Ashburn Drive, Huntsville, Madison County

If the old theory is true that the pleasure of a meal is not only determined by the quality and tastiness of the food, but in equal part by the surroundings you eat it in, die-hard Auburn fans will certainly steer clear of Moe’s Original Bar B Que like Saban would avoid Holy Water.
One of the first things you might notice there is the signed photograph of Nick Satan … I’m sorry, Saban of course … next to the cash register. Then, there is this huge Crimson Tide flag that hangs on the ceiling, next to Old Glory and the Alabama State Flag. A painting of Bear Bryant and a panoramic photography of Bryant-Denny Stadium, and some other stuff with the Big A on it, can be found on the walls, too. In short, only Tiger fans with cast-iron stomachs would probably be able to keep their food down in this joint.

Which is a shame, because the BBQ you get there is rather good, actually. The proprietors, three Bama boys from Huntsville, Athens, and Tuscaloosa, learned their trade from a guy named Moses (Moe) Day when they were enrolled at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Aha, you might say, hence the conspicuous absence of everything Tigerish in this joint. Hmm, you might be up to something here …
After they finished college, all three met again in Vail, Colorado, and decided to bring the exotic taste of real Southern BBQ to the Rocky Mountains. That was ten years ago and since then they opened eighteen franchise restaurants, mostly in Colorado and Alabama. In 2010, they finally returned to their home towns, setting up shop in Tuscaloosa and Huntsville.

Moe apparently was an excellent master and the three Bama boys seemed to be his top students – the food they serve is really first-rate.
Other than the typical Southern pit master, who predominantly uses hickory wood, they use fruit wood to smoke the meats. The sides are made from old family recipes and are prepared fresh daily.
The restaurant itself is part sports bar, part rustic BBQ joint. We already established the theme for the wall decoration, and on top of that four large flat screen TVs hang there, too, which inevitably show various sports channels. The furniture is simple and quite rustic wooden chairs and tables, nothing fancy at all here. They serve the food in plastic baskets that are laid out with plaid butcher paper, the utensils are plastic, and the cups are Styrofoam.
The only sauce on the table is some regular hot sauce from the supermarket. Ketchup and the original house BBQ sauce are located next to the utensils, straws, sweet tea fountain, coke machine and bucket of lemonade slices at the back of the room.
Yes, there is only one BBQ sauce to choose from, but that is absolutely okay. It is a thick concoction that combines a delicately sweet basis with a spicy-peppery overtone, without being overly hot. If you like it spicier, be reminded of the supermarket hot sauce at your disposal, if you need it to be less spicy, well, I guess you could use the Ketchup to tone it down a notch. But in my book, this sauce is rather perfect and ranks with the best of them.
As usual, I had the pork plate, while my wife indulged in the Ribs. The pork had a nice smoky flavor, yet not as strong as in other places I’ve been to. Here, I guess, the fruit wood comes into play, which does not give the meat a very strong aroma. But nonetheless, it was very tasty and, although almost a bit too moist, also extremely tender. The ribs my wife had very lean, with a good amount of meat on them, but also without a distinctive smoke aroma, and more on the salty side. Both ribs and pork came with sauce applied on them, which is not the fine Southern style, I’m afraid. Let me choose my sauces, type and amount, for myself, Sir, and don’t patronize me!
With each plate you can choose two sides, and I had my trusty old potato salad and slaw, of course. While the potato salad was not bad at all, maybe a bit too far on the neutral side, the slaw was a revelation. The same sweetness as basis, like the sauce, and a very determined peppery overtone make this slaw a very distinctive member of the cole slaw hall of fame. They call this thing “marinated”, and that is a very good description. It has a very crunchy bite, and yet the cabbage strips are thoroughly soaked with the vinegar based marinade.
My wife had the usual baked beans as one side, which were too sweet for her taste – she likes it a bit more savory. For the other side, she had …. drum roll … banana pudding.
Yes, as unbelievable at it may sound, they let you have a dessert as a side item to your meat in this place. Where was this joint when I was a child?!
And if you don’t come here because you are a Bama fan, or because the pork is so good, or because of the fantastic sauce and the marvelous slaw, come because of the banana pudding. It is divine. Period. Divine. You understand? Heavenly, like Manna.
Oh, yes, and they also give you a piece of home made corn bread, which is also top notch, especially when you dip it in their original BBQ sauce.
So, the quality of the food is quite outstanding for some items, and very acceptable for the rest. And for about twenty-three bucks for both plates, including drinks, the amount of food you get is also a fair deal.
Soon, they will bring this deal to Auburn, as well. Their 19th restaurant is scheduled to open there in the Winter of 2011.
In War Eagle land, they surely will drape their walls in tiger stripes instead of crimson red, as in Huntsville. But an underground cell of Tiger fans already seems to be at work at the Huntsville location right now – their original house BBQ sauce is not red, it is kind of … orange.

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