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.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Gin House Barbecue
Quest Log No 63 – Gin House Barbecue Elkmont, Limestone
Just call me Ahab from now on.
Captain Ahab. I finally hunted down the white whale, which I thought would
elude me forever. Well, actually the good Captain in the book died while
fighting with the whale, a fate that I fortunately could avoid. But for over
two years I thought that the Ole Gin House BBQ in Elkmont would be the one that
I’ve been there three times before
in 2011. The first time was on a Monday in April, but the restaurant was closed
- no service on Mondays. At the next try, in July, they were on summer break.
And then, in October, they were closed for good.
But a couple of days ago, I
stumbled across a facebook-site with their name on it that had very current
entries of specials and so on. Needless to say, I went there at the first
From the locals, I had heard
stories about this place, which was formerly run by an elderly lady with pink
hair, who had stuffed the restaurant with all kinds of quirky memorabilia and
interesting decorating pieces. But together with dropping the “Ole” from the
name, the new owners also cleaned up the joint and it is now a fairly bland and
unremarkable country eatery. There are two rooms - one fairly darkly lit big
one and another to the side, which receives some natural light through windows.
Other than an American flag on a pole in one of the corners, there is no
decoration worth talking about. There is a small buffet-like counter in the
entrance hall where for $5.99 a meal is assembled to your specifications. The
choices are the usual southern staples, like fried okra, mashed potatoes, fried
chicken, and steamed corn. But you also can order from the menu, which has the
typical BBQ-stuff on it. Not surprisingly, I opted for a large pork plate with
potato salad and cole slaw.
The pork came in large chunks that
were lean and hat some bark on it. Unfortunately, the meat was not very tender
and it had a very funky sour vinegary taste, and no smoke flavor at all. My
guess is that it was either prepared in a slow cooker or by using some very
strange wood-less smoking process. The BBQ sauce it came with did also nothing
to save the taste – it was a thick red puree, which also had the flavor of
pureed tomatoes with a little salt and pepper. Strange. Don’t get me wrong, it
was not too bad, and certainly perfectly edible, but also most definitely not
your typical country BBQ.
The potato salad on the other hand
was very tasty – a concoction with eggs and mayonnaise, not too sour, not too
tart, not too sweet. The cole slaw however was nothing special, just some
shredded cabbage in a sour crème based sauce that could have used much more
salt and pepper than was there.
Altogether, I paid close to ten
bucks for the plate and a soft drink. Needless to say, that I had better BBQ
for half the price.
But at least there was one valuable
lesson that I learned today: Next time I encounter a white whale, I will just
let the beast go its merry way, and will let bygones be bygones.