Sometimes you wake up and think to yourself "It's gonna be a great day. It's Friday. I got a job, I got stuff to do." In today's economy that's worth celebrating, no?
Then as you're about to savor that first cup of coffee . . . CRASH BOOM ZOINK!!!!!!!!At a time like this, you may be tempted to curse openly. You may even be tempted to throw out veiled (or even not so veiled references to race, class and the folly of youth). There's aa place for that, but it's not here. This is the place to be if you want to think about anything but Isaiah Crowell allegedly wadding up his future, stuffing it into a little canister, and shooting it into the center of the sun. This is Free Form Friday. Maestro, the weekly theme music:
I'm told that if you like to . . ." partake", this song is an excellent accompaniment. For my part, I just needed something to quiet the Inside Raegbacker currently blitzing right up the middle of my football dreams. I considered another 311 song which one of our contributors, who shall remain nameless other than for me to say some people call him vineyarddawg, suggested. Frankly, if at all possible, it was just too appropriate under the circumstances.
Today we need calming and blissful, and this fit the bill. Another calming, blissful pursuit that fits the bill? A good barbecue lunch. As you know, I kind of like barbecue. One occupational hazard of the legal business is travel throughout the state of Georgia, and in that capacity I have tried a lot of barbecue. One of my favorites has always been Butt Hut in Athens. It was previously located in a gas station on Baxter, but has now taken over the spot on Macon Highway formerly occupied by Jot-'Em-Down BBQ. Note: barbecue smoked behind a gas station is generally going to be good. So I was curious wehtehr Butt Hut's new digs had changed the goods.
I found the location to look just about like it did when the last 'que restaurant was there. There were a couple of 8 point bucks up on the wall, which was nice, and lots of contractors' trucks out in the parking lot (always a good sign). No autographed pictures of T. Graham Brown, George Jones, or Eddie Rabbit, but hey, the place is new and I'm sure celebrity endorsements will come.
Now, I set the bar pretty high for 'que. I can generally find something to complain about with any barbecue restaurant, and Butt Hut is no exception. But that doesn't mean I don't love the place. I'm more like a football coach who can find something not quite right in every practice rep. I know the potential that slow-smoked pork has, and I want every place that serves it to reach greatness.
Butt Hut's pulled pork is great. Really, it's got a nice smoky flavor, it's juicy, tender, but not mushy. It's pulled and served sans-sauce, allowing you to sauce to the extent of your choice. If I have a complaint about Butt Hut, it's the sauce options. They do a sweet, vinegar, original and hot sauce. All except the vinegar are tomato (read, "ketchup") based which is just not my preference. I'm a vinegar or mustard sauce guy, always have been. The vinegar was not bad, though it could have been spicier. My sandwich (or "buttwich" as the menu dubbed it) also didn't have a lot of bark in it. And I like bark.
The cole slaw comes either in vinegar or mayo varieties, which is an interesting twist. I tried the mayo slaw. I'm fairly certain that it was 30% celery seed. Seriously, I was picking those little bastards out of my teeth all the way to Monticello. I don't know if my cup of slaw was from the bottom of the container and they had settled there or what. In the past when I went to the old Butt Hut location I think I got baked beans as my side (which were excellent, by the way).
Will I go back to the Butt Hut? You bet your . . .well, you know. A regular sandwich (which was as big or bigger than most places' large sandwiches) and a side of my choice was $5.99, which is a fair price for what I got. My criticism of Jot '-Em-Down had been that the food was good, but a bit overpriced. That's clearly not the case with Butt Hut. You get what you pay for, and you'll walk away full.
So, while we're ignoring the gun-toting Isaiah-phant in the room, where do you go for barbecue in the Classic City? Leave your suggestions in the comments. And until later . . .