Have you ever had a meal so delicious, so exactly right for the moment, that it spoiled you for an entire genre of food? I have. It happened last Friday. We arrived at Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q, in Decatur, AL, so hungry and exhausted I thought I might faint. The husband and I had spent the morning walking through Huntsville's historic Twickenham District and had worked up quite an appetite. Happily, Big Bob's delivered in a big way!
The menu options were all so enticing it was difficult to make a selection. We asked the waitress which dishes were the most popular and she suggested: the brisket, pork ribs and Big Bob's special BBQ baked potato. The husband went with the brisket and ribs combo and I opted for the baked potato with BBQ chicken ... which shocked the hell out of me when it arrived because it was the size of a football!
The potato came fully loaded with butter, sour cream, chives, bacon bits, shredded cheddar cheese and chopped BBQ chicken. I topped it off with Bob's Habanero BBQ sauce and let me tell you it was magnificent. The chicken was succulent, flavorful and oh so tender - and the sauce had just enough spice to really make things interesting. As you can see below, this potato was more than a meal in and of itself. It was stunningly good and no surprise that its wildly popular. Almost every table there ordered at least one potato.
As for the husband, he was rendered nearly comatose with joy by the deliciousness of his ribs/brisket combo. Simply put this is the best BBQ we've ever had. The ribs were meaty, falling-off-the-bone tender and, for a refreshing change, they actually tasted like pork. Magnificent, savory pork. They were not overly smoked or overly sweet - as is so often the case here with east coast versions of BBQ - and they were not greasy either. The bark on the ribs was dark and crisp while the meat inside was remarkably moist. I'm almost always disappointed when ordering ribs - but not this time. I was more than happy to help the husband work his way through the enormous plate.
Bob's brisket was just as good. It was fairly lean and absolutely fork tender, with a beautifully developed smoke ring on the outer edges. Again, the meat was not overly smoked or sauced, which allowed the rich, wholesome beef flavor to really shine. This is BBQ in the truest sense of the word - meaning rich, deep flavors that are brought to light by long, low, slow cooking. It in no way resembles the saucy, sweet mess that passes for BBQ here in the city. I may never be able to eat BBQ again, I've been spoiled by Bob's.
The combo platter came with a choice of sides and they are really besides the point. The husband chose the baked beans and potato salad - and they were fine, even good, but when the meat is this extraordinary - and the potatoes this decadent - who really cares about the sides?
Some of you may recognize Big Bob Gibson's from their many appearances on The Food Network. They've won dozens and dozens of awards for both their meat and their sauces - and the awards are well deserved. I was so enamored of the habanero sauce that I bought a few jars to take home ... and then foolishly packed them in my carry-on bag and had them confiscated by airport security. Liqiuds ... duh! Needless to say I'll be ordering some replacement sauce online later today. Ah, such fun to live in these post-terror times. Not.
Suffice it to say that this Diva was not on any diet while dining at Big Bob's - though I am in full repentance mode this week. Stay tuned for a new - and healthy - recipe tomorrow ... and if you're ever anywhere near Decatur, AL, do make a pilgramige to Bob's and get your feed bag on.