Smokehouse BBQ, Spring Valley Community, Leighton, Alabama
First Impression Visit…
The Barbecue Experience…
We were recently informed about a barbecue restaurant down at the crossroads in Spring Valley that we were unaware of. The crossroads is the major intersection where four different roads collide, you have Gargis Lane coming in from the north, Ricks Lane from the east, Lagrange Road from the south and Spring Valley Rd. from the west. One would think that there wouldn’t be a lot of traffic in the area but having been there I can tell that there is a significant amount of cars that traverse the four way stop daily.
The Smokehouse BBQ and Spring Valley Market occupies the southeastern corner of the intersection and the C-store/gas station has been around for a whole lot of years. The location had been up for sale and no qualified buyers stepped forward to continue the business so the current owner, Mark Sanderson decided to just remodel and add a barbecue restaurant in the mix. And from our first impression visit, this was a good move in that he had a steady lunch business the day we visited.
When you enter the front door, not only can you can get a barbecue fix, you can also get a variety of items that normally would require a trip to Muscle Shoals as well as filling your vehicle with gas. It’s a one stop shopping experience with some barbecue thrown in. To get your barbecue fix, head to the back of the store, get your choice of soft drink or bottled water and then get in line to place your barbecue order with one of the ladies working behind the hot tables.
The menu board is located over the exhaust hood for the fryers so you can make a quick selection and it lists all your options. Smokehouse BBQ not only has pulled pork barbecue, but smoked chicken, St. Louis cut spareribs. chicken tenders, and wings. On our visit my dining partner Jim ordered a BBQ Plate with fries, mustard slaw and a roll ($6.59), I ordered a BBQ Plate with mustard slaw and a roll also, but went for the beans instead of the fries ($6.59). We added a 16 oz. tall boy Diet Coke (99¢) and a bottle water(69¢), all items were reasonable priced in our opinion.
After we had told the lady what we wanted on our plates, she grabbed a handful of meat stuck it in a plastic bowl and put a moist paper towel over and put it in the microwave to warm. This is a practice that lots of barbecue restaurants use because of the health risks of not being able to hold barbecue at 140 degrees on a steam table. In a high volume, high turnover restaurant they can pull the meat to order because it won’t be sitting out for two hours, the maximum time mean is allowed to be sitting on a hot table, but I digress.
We got our food trays and headed into the dining area which is in the front corner of the store. There is ample seating for a good crowd and it’s not cramped. There was a TV going in the dining area, but the day we were there it was a soap opera on so it wasn’t of interest to us.
We thought the meat portion was very generous and we estimated it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 oz. of pulled pork. My beans were served in a four ounce Styrofoam cup and the slaw was a good spoonful and filled the compartment of the Styrofoam tray. Jim’s tray was likewise filled with slaw and there was a good portion of crinkle cut fries. So in our opinion, there was an above average amount of food on the tray at a reasonable price.
We first tasted the meat without the addition of any sauce, however there had been some sauce pre-installed on it and I would surmise this was in an attempt to keep the meat moist during the reheating process. Later in a conversation with Mark Sanderson, the owner, I confirmed indeed this was the case. It’s another one of those catch 22 situations in the barbecue business and I’ve personally faced the same situation in the past. The meat did have a “wang” to it and tasted more of the added barbecue sauce flavor than of hickory smoked meat. Personally I would have loved to have a lot more smoke flavor in the meat, but then again some people prefer barbecue with a milder smoke profile. Jim and I both agreed about the little to non-existent smoke taste and judged it accordingly. The sauce was served in a clear 2 oz container and was a standard commercial grade barbecue sauce and tasted like Cattlemen’s which is one of the better restaurant quality sauces.
The baked beans were really good, they were way above what other barbecue restaurants in the area serve because they didn’t taste like reheated pork & beans, kudos for that. They would have really been over the top had they had some barbecue meat mixed in with them when they were heated up, that would have added an additional flavor profile. I would have almost thought they were Allen Brand Baked Beans and should have asked I guess to find out, regardless though, I gave them high marks. The mustard slaw also rated well with both Jim and I, it had a good crunch to it so it was freshly made, had a good mustard content and our only complaint was that they hadn’t added some cayenne pepper to it so that it would be hot mustard slaw cause that goes well on a barbecue sandwich. Jim’s fries were just run of the mill restaurant grade crinkle cut fries and were average.
Our overall assessment is that we would loved to have had the meat without pre-installed sauce on it with more hickory smoke in the meat. And as stated above some cayenne pepper to kick up the mustard coleslaw would have gotten this item a higher mark. I also think that the addition of some pulled pork to the Baked beans would kick them up a notch. The Smokehouse BBQ is doing a lot of things right in our opinion and with a little more time and ironing out their serving processes and side item recipes, we think they could become a legendary destination barbecue restaurant.
Conversation with the owner…
After we finished our meal we went out to the cook shack and I talked at length with the owner Mark Sanderson. He is using a smoker that was designed and built by Myron Mixon (of BBQ Pitmasters TLC TV channel show fame) and the description from the website reads:
It is an indirect water cooker style smoker. This method of smoking uses a water-pan to evenly disperse heat and tenderize the meat while you barbecue, the best of both worlds. Myron Mixon developed the Myron Mixon Smoker to combine the benefits of steam and smoke to take you to a whole new level of barbecuing
I was impressed with the cooker since it was the first time that I’d been up close and personal with a Mixon H2O Smoker. There is a lot of potential in the smoker once a pit master has mastered the cooking process.
Mark told us that he had tried several different smokers prior to investing in the Mixon H2O Smoker and that he really was liking it. I can relate with him having had the experience of going from a manual log burner rig to a wood over gas automatic style smoker. And, while all of the automatic style smokers are a huge investment, it’s worth it to consistently get a good quality product.
The Brown Bag Review does recommend that you give the Smokehouse BBQ a visit, we’ll certainly be paying them another visit in the near future for a second go round and trying out their chicken and ribs. Both looked very good, especially the ribs. And, Smokehouse BBQ does have the white sauce to go on the chicken which we definitely will try and report back on.
|Vegetarian-Friendly||Duh!! It’s a Q-Joint, they sell SMOKED MEATS|
|Price Range||Most entrees $5 – $10|