Tag Archives: BBQ Chicken

Quantity over Quality at Pensacola’s Barnhill’s

31 Jul

A business day trip to the FL Panhandle gave me a rare opportunity to dine in new territory during the work week. This “fly-by-night” banner (above) can easily be viewed from I-110 in Pensacola. I have actually passed this eatery before, but it really didn’t make much of an impact on me. Then last week I saw an “info-mercial” for Barnhill’s Southern Fresh Buffet on MediaCom Cable (our provider here in Baldwin County, AL). And it actually looked pretty promising.

Loyal regular customers raved about the made from scratch, homestyle food. Employees were lauded for their pursuit of both perfection and cleanliness. One employee was even interviewed to fully explain her commitment to be the best dishwasher in the food business. OK, now I had to give this place a go. Frankly, it all sounded a bit too good to be true.  

I guess this sign is appropriate.  A “trainload” of grub is served here each day.

All You Can Eat for $5??? Sure seems like the bargain of the century.

Others obviously agree … the line stretched outside the door on this early Tuesday afternoon. It was a rather motley looking crew — the clientele and the staff. That may have been my first warning sign. The line did move along at a brisk pace and I was certainly happy for that. Yes, I was one hungry beast!

My platter (pictured above) — well, at least the first go-around. BBQ chicken, green beans, stewed squash, and carrot raisin salad. I usually love them all — so I was anticipating a solid mid-day feed. The BBQ sauce slathered on the chicken breast was indeed very good. Both sweet and peppery. But the white meat inside was woefully overcooked … almost to the point of dry petrification. The green beans were just fine – no complaints here. However, I must add that the squash was extremely bland and the carrot raisin salad just a touch warm and watery.

Undeterred, I shoved off for my second run at the steam table. Sadly, similar results were acheived. This bowl of cabbage (above) pretty much summed up the day. Looked good, tasted flat. C’mon, folks — how about a little salt? Maybe some fatback? A sprinkle of black pepper? A splash of hot sauce? Little touches mean a lot and they were consistently missing. My table was dirty. The server seemed bothered. It took a while just to get a few napkins delivered to my table. The sweet potatoes were overly candied into a gloppy, gooey mess. Just gross. The rutabagas (yes, they actually had rutabagas!) were a welcome sight, but not the best I’ve ever had. A little dry … perhaps canned and re-heated???  

Well, I thought, at least there will be some decent dessert choices. Always seem to be a good dessert bars at places like this. But nope, foiled again. The pies were obviously mass produced, Sysco-style productions. As I walked down the line I was greeted by dry, pre-baked cookies, a couple brightly colored Jellos, a chafing dish swimming with canned peaches in heavy syrup. Hardly Southern fresh, Mr. Barnhill. Shame on you!

You may have fooled me once, Mr. B.

But never again, sir. Never again.

www.barnhillsbuffet.com

Brick Pit in Mobile is Still Really Great Stuff

16 Apr

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We first visited the Brick Pit some 15 years ago and we were duly impressed. A return trip last week proved that very little had changed — and that is a very good thing! Why mess with pure porcine perfection? The cracked and aged sign seen above is in exactly the same place and still features the same half-assed effort at censorship.  

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The big oak tree located just inches outside the Brick Pit’s smokehouse is a little taller now — and a hell of a lot smokier. Frankly, the grand ole tree doesn’t seem to mind. And why should it? I wouldn’t fuss a bit if I could sniff up that wonderful aroma of burning hickory and pecan all day.   

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The roadside sign also remains unchanged – Old Glory still flies proudly!

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The actual structure looks a tad more rickety than it did way back in 1995. My wife Eileen commented that it seemed a good deal more smoky too, which in BBQ terms means the building has finally been “broken in.”

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They don’t sell cold brew at the Brick Pit – just sweet tea and Coke products and a lot of it. But owner and all-around good guy Bill Armbrecht promotes a casual BYOB policy, which is clearly advertised just outside the main entrance to the Mobile eatery. I trust these folks own stock in the company that makes Sharpie markers.

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Just about everyone (including yours truly) has claimed a little space on the interior walls. But strategic chunks of the vertical real estate are reserved for images of Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and other Crimson Tide football heroes. Yes, this is without a doubt a Bama joint … but they treat everyone (including Yankees) to good old Southern hospitality and top notch “Q.”

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That’s BBQ chicken swimming under that layer of delicious blanket of Brick Pit sauce. We think the BBQ sauce here is some of the best in Dixie. The expertly smoked bird ain’t all that bad either!

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The pulled pork plate comes with a generous portion of BBQ pig meat with some tantilizing charred end pieces. The sauce (offered in mild and hot varieties) is served warm and that is always a welcome touch. My order was served with some crispy cole slaw, baked beans, and a fat slab of Texas toast.  I quickly polished off the Q before topping off my tank with the sides. You have to have your priorities in order. And, before I forget, make sure you try the banana puddin’ for dessert … oh yeah, baby!

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This sign, which has also been around for well over a decade, was created in reaction to the opening of the Mobile franchise of Dreamland BBQ. Founded in Tuscaloosa, Dreamland now has outlets all over the Southeast USA. The Brick Pit and Dreamland have squared off for many moons now, but there is obviously enough business to go around. In other words, this is serious BBQ country, folks!

The Brick Pit is simply one of our favorite BBQ dives in Dixie. We highly recommend it and encourage you to visit soon and often. Tell Bill and the gang that we invited you over. I know they will appreciate it — there are some really nice folks at the one and only Brick Pit!

www.brickpit.com

Great Cracker BBQ Discovered in Sarasota

4 Apr

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Praise the Lord! After a great deal of searching and some frustration, we have found some authentic Florida Cracker BBQ here in the Sunshine State. And it was all quite by accident, really. Driving along Bahia Vista Road on a late Saturday afternoon, we spotted the wood-paneled roadside stand in a gas station parking lot.  

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They even take major credit cards here! Now that is pretty unusual for stands such as this. But this is not your typical roadside food cart – that’s for darn sure. Jeff Alday has been cooking up first-rate BBQ for about 3 decades now. Let’s just say he knows what he’s doing, OK?

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It’s pretty hard to miss Alday’s BBQ stand. They have obviously invested some of the proceeds in signage and their bright red background leaps out and grabs ya – much like the amazing aroma eminating from their smoker.

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Jeff kindly offered me a sample of his BBQ pork ribs. I quickly ascertained that they were the best we’ve ever tasted in Florida. They offer up a mild or hot sauce on the side, but who really needs it when BBQ is this tasty?

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The prices, as you can see, are very reasonable. The food is excellent!

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The half-chicken plate was moist and peppery. My wife commented (after just one taste) that it is far better than most chicken served at traditional BBQ joints. And, you know what, she’s right. Most of the chicken offered up at Q shacks is pretty dry and flavorless. Not so at Alday’s. The baked beans are chock full of pulled pork — almost enough to make yourself a sandwich for later.  

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Take a look at the chicken seen above. Juicy, meaty & spiced just right!

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So take a drive along Bahia Vista and keep an eye out for all those red signs. Alday’s is open here on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They also do weddings, banquets, picnics, and fund raisers. Call Jeff Alday at 941 809 2589 or shoot him an email at porkbutt84@aol.com. The email address alone should tell you how serious these folks are about their Q. Tell ’em Dixie Dining sent ya on over.