It started as a quest to visit 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).
Then I got sent back to Germany and there was no BBQ. But eventually I got assigned to a new job which takes me on business trips in the USA occasionally. So I reopened the blog – just deleted the “North Alabama” from the title.
Friday, September 14, 2012
Big Cove BBQ
Quest Log No 36 – Big Cove BBQ Huntsville, Madison County
The King died because he stuffed
himself with Burgers, Fries and Cherry Cola. Coming from Tupelo,
and eventually living in Memphis,
this was a somewhat strange choice – had he stuck with good old southern style
BBQ instead of the junk food (and pills), he might still perform in Vegas.
Because BBQ done right is not only soul food, but it is health food as well.
When you enter Big Cove BBQ, one of
the first things you will notice is the life-sized cardboard cut-out of Elvis
in his glorious years, standing in one of the corners. Whether he was placed
there to remind the customers of the dangers of an unhealthy diet, or to serve
as a tribute to the southern way of live, or as a guardian angel for all that
is old style, I do not know. But it works – this place is as southern, old
style and healthy as the young Elvis, straight out of Tupelo, once was.
You order at a small
hole-in-the-wall counter just opposite the entrance door. The menu is of the
k.i.s.s. variety – keep it simple, stupid. Pulled pork sandwiches and plates,
stuffed baked potatoes, slaw, baked beans … nothing fancy here, just good old
The dining room has about half a
dozen tables, decorated with neat red-and-white-checkered plastic table cloths.
The chairs are of the usual black-metal with faux black leather seats variety.
The walls are covered with wooden panels, with some old pictures, news paper
articles, and the like as decoration. There is a gumball machine in one corner,
and some pig figurines placed in a shelf next to the cooler that holds the soda
Sitting there, it felt almost like
sitting in someone’s living room – very cozy and homey, and spot clean. That
feeling was certainly amplified by the extreme nice and attentive attitude of
the staff – it never hurts to be polite, friendly and considerate.
There is also a patio with more
tables in the back, but I doubt that this is used very often. Most folks seem
to come here for take-out food and those who stay seem to be regulars. Well,
given that this place is kind of hidden on a by-road behind a gargantuan WalMart SuperCenter, not very many outsiders
will ever find this BBQ.
This is a crying shame, because
apart from the old style atmosphere, they serve a righteous BBQ!
As usual, I had the pulled pork
plate – which, for not even eight and a half Dollars including free refills for
my sweet tea, ended up to be a killer deal. Not only was the portion enormous,
but also the quality was excellent.
The pork was succulent and tender,
very lean and with a good smoke aroma. They have two sauces, one thick red mild
one that is of the common sweet’n’smokey taste. Nothing wrong with that, but
this is the sort of BBQ sauce the WalMart carries, too.
But the hot sauce there is of a
different breed. It is actually more orange then red, which should give you the
first hint of its character. Yes, it is hot. My guess is a lot of cayenne
pepper, some ground jalapenos, and a bit of black pepper mixed into a base of
tomato sauce. First, it took my breath away, but after the third bite or so, I
actually liked the tingling on my tongue that put a different twist on the
smoky flavor of the pork.
The plate also came with three
sides. The potato salad was, hands down, one of the best I ever had in a BBQ
joint. Slightly sour, with big bites of potato, and a well rounded aroma.
The slaw was made with a
yoghurt/sour crème based sauce and tasted very fresh and light. Actually, I
could taste the cabbage, which is not always the case because most slaws are
just smothered with mayonnaise and/or sugar and vinegar. Not so here, the
flavor was very well balanced between a slight sourness, the freshness of the
sauce and the aroma of the cabbage. Also, I like it a lot if the cabbage pieces
are ‘bite sized’ – that means not shredded into oblivion, but also not cut so coarsely
as to leave the leafs almost intact. This slaw had the ‘right’ size – which is
hard to describe and certainly varies from person to person. But it worked for
The baked beans on the other hand
were a bit bland, way too sweet for my taste. But I liked that they were
enriched with green bell pepper, which gave it a little unexpected crunch.
Also part of the plate were two
buns, which I did not touch – I just was full to the brim, it was a massive
meal even without the buns.
The only negative experience there
was that they have real nice T-Shirts for sale, with a guitar playing pig on
it, but they were sold out of the 2XL size. Well, judging from the crowd you
usually see eating at those places, this should be the most popular size in North Alabama. The skinny types ain’t into southern soul
food that much, I guess.
Too bad, I would have proudly worn
their T-Shirt, to let everybody know that I am now a fan of their BBQ. So, I
guess that I have to return there once in a while to check on their T-Shirt
situation – looking forward to it.