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, March 1, 2013
Red's BBQ & Diner
Quest Log No48 – Red’s BBQ
& Diner Somerville, Morgan County
Change is the only constant in life. Well, that and death.
But let’s not get too depressed here, let’s talk about the ever changing
landscape of BBQ places in North Alabama.
One observation that I have made lately is that we are
getting more and more chain restaurants here. Lawler’s just opened their sixth
satellite station in Madison, Moe’s has expanded
into the Village of Providence in Huntsville,
and there is even a new franchise in town, Shane’s Rib Shack.
Also, there is also a new non-franchise restaurant on Winchester Road, with
the somewhat weird name of Blackjack and Things BBQ.
Special cases are restaurants that just change their name
and owner. That, of course, also constitutes a new entry in my list, so my
quest is not getting easier, and the list of BBQ places to visit has actually
grown again in the last couple of months.
One of the latter category is Red’s BBQ & Diner in Somerville, which was,
until October 2012, the Jailhouse BBQ – one of the top restaurants on my list.
I was curious, of course, to find out whether the new owners
could maintain the quality of the food, the special atmosphere of the place,
and the superb service of their predecessors.
So, I went there today, amidst a few snow flurries, to have
a look – and a bite to eat.
The first thing I noticed was that now this place has more consumer-friendly
business hours then before. They are open seven days a week, from 11 AM to 9
PM, which is a big improvement over the former, which was only open at some odd
hours on weekends.
The second thing that caught my eye was that on the outside,
only the sign with the place’s name on it had changed. Also, the dining room
was virtually unchanged. They have a little wood fired furnace and some
electrical heaters in there now, which came in very handy today with the
temperatures hovering around the freezing point. They also have two small
flat-screen TVs in the corners now, which takes away a bit of the unique
atmosphere the old place had. Who needs that in a BBQ restaurant? If I want to
have some entertainment, I just chat with the staff – they usually have more
intereting things to say then the TV anyways.
Speaking of the staff, the service was also first class,
very friendly and attentive, like in the old restaurant.
So, now on to the food. My suspicion is that they not only
bought the place from the old owners, but also their recipes with it. I just
read what I wrote about the Jailhouse BBQ’s food, and decided to basically
recycle it – with a few minor changes.
I had the large pork plate, with potato salad, baked beans,
and slaw on the side.
The pulled pork was utterly flavorful, with a perfect
mixture of meat and smoke aromas. Although it had a small amount of visible
fat, it nonetheless was very tender and had just the right amount of moisture.
Although the meat really did not need any sauce I poured some of their red concoction
on it, which was besides a very tasty peppery and sour white sauce, the only
sauce available. Fruity aroma, no spiciness, just a good sweet BBQ sauce.
The potato salad, also home made as everything else on the
menu, was nothing short of phenomenal and is the best I ever had in a
restaurant here. Only my wife and my mother make a better potato salad, but
this here came very close. Mayonnaise based with a very refreshing sourness, a
hint of mustard and dill.
The slaw did not disappoint me as well, being of the
sour-without-sweet variety, but in comparison to the meat and the potato salad,
it does not quite play in the same league.
The large plates come with a third side, but the baked beans
were nothing special. Without any hint of cinnamon, which is a clear plus, but
still with some nice sweetness to them, they could have come out of a can –
which would then be a very nicely picked can.
So, is the new place as recommendable as the old one?
Definitely. I even have Red’s BBQ and Diner ranked one place higher then the
old Jailhouse BBQ – because the potato salad was a tiny bit better, and the
meat too. The old owners apparently knew what they did, and so do the new
owners. And I am glad to report that, despite the somewhat less than inspiring
new name (quite frankly, there are not very many names that could beat
Jailhouse BBQ …), they still have a Top 10 address for really good BBQ in Somerville.