Florence, Alabama -
Recently my friend and I decided to check out Singleton’s Barbecue and do a taste testing for the Shoals Barbecue Trail. First off, let me say this is not the first time that either of had ever eaten at Singleton’s so we knew a few things about them. However, for the purposes of this review, I did stick with my review criteria and ordered comparable to the other q-joints that we have reviewed.
We chose a Thursday to visit Singleton’s and arrived just after noon. We had to hunt a parking place since the lot was full and we managed to squeeze in just off of the street, seems the restaurant has more seats than parking places so do take that into consideration if you go during a busy time. There is a closed business across the street that we considered parking at until we decided to squeeze in the space we chose.
When we entered the restaurant we were promptly greeted by one of the wait staff and told to take a seat anywhere. The menus were on the table and we perused them and within a few minutes one of the waitresses came over and got our order. My dining partner ordered the Jumbo BBQ sandwich with hot slaw, Brunswick Stew and Iced Tea. I choose the BBQ Pork Plate, hot slaw, BBQ beans and Iced Tea. The hot slaw came with a pickle spear laid across the top of it which to me was a nice touch.
My dining partner’s sandwich was on a jumbo bun and had an ample amount of pork barbecue on it along with a good dollop of hot mustard slaw. The Brunswick stew served in a 6 oz Styrofoam cup and was at a nice serving temperature, not to hot nor to cold. The stew had a good mix of ingredients in it with some pork barbecue added, however, in my dining partner’s judgement the consistence of the stew was a tad bit on the thin side. As to the barbecue sandwich, he stated that it had a good taste with a nice smoky flavor. It was moist and tender and did not have the warmed over taste that we sometimes run into.
My pork barbecue plate had a very nice serving of barbecue on it, which I estimated to be between 6 to 8 ounces, the beans was in a 4 oz ramekin dish and the slaw served in a six ounce melamine bowl with the before mentioned pickle spear. I was in agreement with my dining partner’s assessment on the barbecue. As you can see from the pictures below, the barbecue pork has a mixture of inside and outside meat, with lots of meat showing signs of smoke (the pink chunks). This is the very reason that I always now order my barbecue plate sans sauce is so that I can tell if the meat is fresh looking and judge it before adding the sauce. In this case, the meat hit all of the measurement points, it was tender, moist and had an appealing background smokiness that can only be arrived at by a 10 – 12 hour visit with some hickory smoke. The beans on the other hand were OK, just nothing to write home about. They could use a little more pizzazz with the addition of some BBQ meat and sauce. But having said that about the beans, I remedied the situation by adding the meat and sauce to my taste. Other folks might not like their beans with as much meat and sauce in them as I do.
The hot mustard slaw taste wise hit a happy medium of tartness with heat. As usual for me I did have to hit it with more black pepper since I do like a lot of black pepper in my slaw regardless of the type. The consistence of the slaw was finely chopped and I would have preferred a more coarsely chopped blend, but then I’m not the one running the cabbage grinding machine. Again, my preference vs. whatever other folks like.
Both my dining partner and I agreed that the regular barbecue sauce on the table was probably a standard food service sauce more than likely one of the Cattleman’s family of sauces. Again, not saying it’s bad, in fact it is a whole lot better than some homemade sauces we’ve encountered in our barbecue journeys. The hot vinegar sauce was in the North Alabama traditional style with a good blend of seasonings in it and a great dollop of cayenne pepper to give it a kick. It complimented the pork barbecue very well and played nicely with the thicker smoky sauce. The vinegar hot sauce works well by itself on the pork or you can just mainline it straight out of the bottle. Either way, it was definitively good stuff.
Singleton’s Barbecue’s atmosphere is an eclectic mix of pigs and police memorabilia, and I’m sure a late night TV show could make lots of jokes about the mixture of the two genres but I won’t go there. Rick Singleton, the owner is the retired Police Chief of Florence, so that is where all of the police memorabilia comes in. When he retired he had to have a place to hang all of the stuff from his office so the walls of the restaurant was a great place. We enjoyed looking all of the displays and really think it adds a touch to the establishment.
Catering Service Available: Yes
Recommendations: Homemade desserts
Ambiance: Small town Q-Joint
Service: Country friendly
Vegetarian Friendly: Ugh, it’s a q-joint, you figure it out
Price Range: $
Health Score: 94
Smoke Free: Yes
Soft Drink Brand: Pepsi, fountain