I remember visiting a Shoney’s restaurant as a kid. I’m not really sure who I was with or where they were, but I was there (most likely with French toast syrup all over my shirt and in my hair). Many of you probably have never been to one, and it’s ok…you didn’t miss out on anything. If one of these fantastic Shoney’s from my memory was to decide that overnight they’d like to try their hand at BBQ, then I give you Briar Patch in Hiram, Georgia.
I have a couple buddies that have good memories of hunting and visiting this place before or after heading out into the woods. As we mentioned in the last post though, sometimes good food and good memories can subconsciously substituted for one another. Jamie and I headed out on a Wednesday night to visit and this place was packed! You’d expect something a little less than ordering stations with 42 inch plasma TV’s though, or at least I did. We ordered the pulled pork and rib plate with baked beans and Brunswick stew.
The long pieces of pulled pork were tender and moist, but it just didn’t have a lot of smoky flavor. Besides the house BBQ sauce (which resembled a cheap spaghetti sauce flavor) that was doused on top, it actually had no other flavor at all. The membrane-backed pork ribs at least had some smoke on them. They weren’t close to being cooked long enough though. They were chewy and tough, barely being able to be ripped apart. BBQ’s a little backwards. Most people think that if something is tough and chewy then it’s overcooked. If it was a grilled steak, then yes, you’d probably be right. But the longer you can let something cook at a low temperature then the longer the meat has to break down and let all of the fats and connective tissues properly render. If you take it out too soon, you’re left with a chewy, rubbery piece of BBQ. If you leave it in there too long, then it’s quite the opposite with mushy meat that literally falls apart before you can eat it (not a good thing). Other than not being cooked long enough, there was way too much cold BBQ sauce covering the half slab of ribs. Neither meat was above par.
The sides were equally uninspiring. The baked beans were clearly yesterday’s or the day before’s and the Brunswick stew lacked the multitude of flavors and textures that can make a great Brunswick stew.
I know there are a lot of people that hold Briar Patch close to their hearts, but unfortunately we couldn't share that same affection. Sorry, friends.