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 28, 2012
Dirt Road BBQ & Grill
Quest Log No 38 – Dirt Road BBQ & Grill Decatur, Morgan County
As I was driving to Dirt Road BBQ
& Grill on the Beltline in Decatur
today, a strange scene caught my eye. There was a pig and a blonde chick
standing by the side of the street, frantically waving at the passing cars.
I stopped and asked, "Where
did you get that?"
The pig said, "I won her in a
No, this is not an entirely true
story, just a very lame blonde joke, based on an actual pig-and-blonde-chick
sighting. They were trying to entice drivers to stop at the restaurant for
lunch. But besides me, I did not see anybody follow this siren song. Well,
since I had planned to eat there anyways, so that does not count either.
My wife and I visited the original
Dirt Road BBQ in Trinity about nine months ago, and since then a small
franchise was born. The newest addition to the Dirt Road BBQ family is this new
restaurant on the Beltline in Decatur,
which opened in August 2012. Its middle name is “Grill”, which describes the
general focus of this establishment pretty well – think “Sports Bar”, and you
are not far off. They even have Karaoke nights.
The restaurant is situated at the
end of a strip mall, next to some optical shop. The exterior is dominated by a
very large sign with the name on it. The interior is your typical family
restaurant/sports bar layout, with the exception of about half a dozen booths
on side that are made out of raw hewn wood planks. The original location in
Trinity has more charm, but as a franchise concept I guess you have to
streamline some things.
So I entered one of the booths, got
my free sweet tea (they not only have Karaoke nights, but also free tea Fridays
…) and ordered a Junk Yard Dog and a Turkey Sandwich.
Wow, wait a second – what happened
to pork, potato salad and slaw, you might ask? Well, I invented this new rule
that whenever I go to a different restaurant of the same franchise, I have to
try something else then before.
Hence, the dog and the sandwich
today, because last time I had the pork plate, comprende?
The Junk Yard Dog is a mess. I
didn’t even try to eat it using only my hands – I would have looked totally
stupid trying to tame the massive amount of stuff piled on that bun. A six inch
long sausage with the diameter of a football (okay, that may be an exaggeration
…), a very healthy helping of pulled pork, topped of with the special Dirt Road
BBQ sauce and two handfuls of shredded cheese. Oh, and two pickle spears that
were buried underneath the sausage.
I am not ashamed to testify here
that I used a fork to partition this heap of meat, cheese and bread.
It says on the menu that the Junk
Yard Dog is the favorite of Jason, the Pit Boss. I can understand this, because
it is really good. But you have to make sure that with each bite you get all of
the ingredients. The sausage alone is very mildly seasoned and kind of bland.
Thankfully, it is also not fatty at all and the texture is surprisingly
exquisite. The pulled pork is lean and tender and has a very nice smoke flavor.
The cheese is the typical cheddar you find everywhere, and the pickles are …
The special BBQ sauce is much too
sweet for my taste, without any zing to it. But together will all the other
stuff, it makes for a very harmonious yet interesting taste. The sweetness of
the sauce, the sourness of the pickles, the smokiness of the pork – never
thought that this would work so well. Personally, I would probably exchange the
cheese for some fried onions – then this Dog would possibly be sensational. As
it is, I would rank it as amazing right now.
So, after this heap of food, I was
surprised to not being filled up, but that I had some space left for the Turkey
Two thick slices of smoked Gobbler,
some slaw and white sauce, all on a standard bun. The turkey was very well smoked,
with a superb flavor, but unfortunately a bit on the dry side. The slaw was of
the “let’s shred the cabbage into microscopic pieces” variety and has a
sweet’n’sour taste, which dominated the whole sandwich, and I really didn’t
taste the white sauce at all.
But don’t get me wrong – although
the slaw flavor was quite overwhelming, the sandwich was tasty and at the end,
when I reached some bites with only the turkey with a little slaw left on it,
it was actually very good. The smoky flavor of the turkey came through quite
nicely, which was overlaid by the slaw before. A little less of that, and this
sandwich would actually have potential.
Well, I am no expert of the
restaurant business, but I think we might see the beginning of a success story
here. Yesterday Trinity, today Decatur
– what’s next? I hear that Birmingham
could use some good BBQ restaurant …