Since I enjoy going to restaurants as much as I enjoy hot things I figured that I will also be blogging about the various restaurants that I go to. I am very much an adventurous eater and will try anything and any place at least once. I do not set my standards high so if I say a place is terrible then it probably is.
Today I decided that I would treat the family to a bit of BBQ from a new place that opened within walking distance of my office. The place is called Big Al's BBQ Shack sitting off the corner of Airport Blvd and University right next to Mosely's Meat Market and Diamonds.
As I walked into the restaurant I see the owner sitting at a table. I figure that he knew me, or at least recognized me because of a mutual acquaintance. I smiled and waved at him. He saw me, and turned and started talking to someone else. It was quite rude. I was the ONLY customer in the restaurant at this particular time so a cordial smile or wave would have been apropos. I was a bit taken back by it because I did expect a greeting of sort. It didn't have to be a big one. I mean, a smile and recognition of me about to spend my hard earned money in his establishment would have sufficed.
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Including the owner there were ten people just standing around doing nothing. I was greeted by a real nice girl that was very helpful. She gave me a menu, and talked me into buying a combo meal for two since I was buying dinner for the family. It looked like the combo would have been enough.
I sat at a table by myself surrounded by idly standing employees that were laughing and joking. I ordered the slab dinner for two. It was a total of 13 rib bones. I specifically ordered them dry baby back style. I order dry because a good BBQ should be delicious without the sauce. The sauce should only be used as a condiment to which I opted for their original sauce. To complete my order, and to have lunch for the following day I ordered a pound of pulled pork. For a family of three that should be enough for two days. Packaged in four non-descript styrofoam containers I took my pork meal home to enjoy with the family.
I originally went to this place because the mutual acquaintance always praised the owner on his ability to smoke and cook ribs as well as other pork cuts. It was also said that he made some of the best bbq sauces around. I figured I would trust this judgment and try it. Here is what I found.
I opened the styrofoam containers to find all items were as I ordered. There were two boxes filled with ribs, a box filled with pork, and a box filled with the sides. The sides included potato salad, bbq beans, coleslaw, and fried green tomatoes. I ordered the original sauce but I was also given the sweet sauce. I suppose I was lucky.
As I stated, a good bbq shouldn't rely on the sauce. A good bbq should have a nice salty based rub that melds flavor with selected pieces of choice wood. The bone should be moist on the inside. There should be a distinct red smoke line bordering the meat.
Biting into the ribs we found they were extremely dry, even waxy in texture. This is evident even in the pictures I took. You can see there is no rub on the ribs or any type of juicy goodness coming from these ribs. There wasn't a good defined smoke line. The end pieces of the ribs were almost inedible as they were hard and over cooked. The ribs I received seemed as if they had been frozen and then thawed and reheated. They were not a quality; especially for the $29 I spent for the meal.
The taste of the ribs was very bland. There was a musty taste to some of the ribs that made us throw them out. My son, who loves bbq ribs, ate one rib and politely placed the others back. He did not like the ribs one iota. My wife said they were "so so" but definitely not the best that she has ever had.
I thought the pork would be pulled but it was chopped pieces of pork. I saw bits of rib and loin meat mixed in so it wasn't a pulled type of pork I was thinking of, but a mixture of scraps. Looking in the picture you can see the cubed pieces of fat that was scattered throughout. The whole pile was greasy and had a peculiar sweet taste that I found unpleasant.
The sides were okay. The dinner was suppose to be for two but quite honestly the portion size of the sides was enough for one person. The beans were good. They were made with sausage which I found unique and pleasant. The coleslaw, potato salad and fried green tomatoes were under whelming. They were okay. Probably as good as Kentucky Fried Chicken sides.
By this time you are probably going, "where's the heat?!" Well, too bad. There was no heat in this restaurant. The original bbq sauce that Al made was a bit sweet with a little bit of a salty after taste. It had a lot of what tasted to be Worcester sauce in it. The original sauce was very watery and lacked in any type of bite. We ended up using some chipotle bbq sauce that I had lying around the house. Since they put in the sweet version of the sauce I need to say something about it. Imagine Worcester sauce, catsup, and honey mixed together. Those are the flavors I got and I found it, for lack of any better word, gross.
So basically I found the food palatable but I did not find it overwhelming. It was, at best, mediocre for the price. For those of you thinking of trying it, save your money. The quality is no better than Sonny's BBQ chain bbq. Actually, Sonny's pulled pork is leaps and bounds over Big Al's pulled pork and the ribs...well...stick with Saucy Q Bar B Que or Dreamland for perfectly seasoned ribs and sauces.
Big Al's BBQ Shack
4672 Airport Blvd, Mobile, AL 36608
Contact: (251) 345-8002