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.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
O'le Dads Barbeque
Quest Log No 37 – O’le Dads Barbeque Hazel Green, Madison
The Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist
Association publishes a guide called “North Alabama Barbecue Trail”. Of the 16
BBQ place featured in there, I have visited only seven. Well, I might need to
expand my coverage beyond the three counties of Madison, Morgan, and Limestone eventually.
But do I really need to travel to Cherokee or Boaz for good BBQ? We have about
sixty BBQ places in those three counties mentioned above, and I am struggling
to visit each of them – which is still my goal - as it is. And quite frankly,
there aren’t many BBQ restaurants outside this area that are really worth
driving two hours for. We are truly blessed not only with a fairly high density
of BBQ joints here, but also with some of the best BBQ one can imagine. The
quality at the top is just amazing, and even the average restaurants are
usually better than what you can find elsewhere.
So then, the seventh of those
restaurants mentioned in the brochure, which I visited during my quest was O’le
Dads Barbeque in Hazel Green.
My large pork plate came with three
sides – potato salad, vinegar slaw, and baked beans. Also, you have the choice
between a roll and three hushpuppies. Well, what choice? Exactly.
The meat was tender, with a very
distinctive but not overbearing smoke flavor. It was also quite moist, which
lets me think that maybe a liquid of some kind was added to keep it from drying
out. Thankfully, it was not oil, which would have given me the cramps (see The
Main Dish for reference). I am not a great purist, and since the pork was very
tasty and the meat, while more moist than it probably should have been, was not
soggy or flabby, I don’t want to make a big fuzz out of it.
The baked beans had some meat in
them and were not sweet at all – very good.
The potato salad, on the other
hand, was a bit blah, basically your standard on the sour side tasting mayonnaise-based
concoction without any outstanding features.
And the slaw was of the sweet
variety, which I personally don’t fancy that much. All sides together, however,
with the meat and the hot sauce on it, generated an amazing taste experience.
Sweet, sour, peppery, smoky, plus the different textures – amazing.
Oh, and the hot sauce is really
hot. It is a simple vinegar based pepper sauce with some kick – and a very
attractive orange color. It might even glow in the dark.
The mild sauce is just a standard
thick brownish-reddish sweet’n’spicy sauce – you can grab one of those at the
So then, we come to the absolute
highlight of the meal – hushpuppies. Three of them, fresh out of the fryer,
each the size of two golf balls.
In my humble opinion, and in my
wife’s expert opinion, these are the best hushpuppies on this planet (sorry
Greenbrier Restaurant, you just lost that title …).
Crunchy on the outside, fluffy yet
firm on the inside, with a perfect golden color and not too sweet - just the
way hushpuppies were intended to be.
Dip them into the remnants of the
baked beans sauce and this is better than any dessert.
For all of that, times two because
my wife had the same meal, plus a large cup of sweet tea and a can of soda, we
paid just under sixteen bucks - which is a more than good deal in my mind.
Of course, there is the drawback
that for this you have to drive out to Hazel Green, the well known center of
the universe. But the place is very easy to find, it sits right at the very
busy US Highway 431/231. Most people get their BBQ as carry-out, which clearly
has its reason in the fact that the dining area of O’le Dads Barbeque is half a
dozen tables in a screened porch at the front of the building. The porch has no
air condition, but features the lovely background soundtrack of speeding
eighteen wheelers, ambulance sirens, and general heavy traffic.
It is not the homiest place you can
imagine, but surely one of the most authentic you can find. And the food more
than compensates for that little nuisance.