Saturday, May 14, 2016
Old Hickory Bar-B-Q (Owensboro, KY)
I blew into town for the International Bar-B-Q Festival, but no trip to Owensboro, Kentucky would be complete without a stop at one of their famous barbecue joints as well. Even though Moonlite Inn has all of the notoriety, I had it on good authority that those who know pick Old Hickory Bar-B-Q instead. With six generations worth of experience behind them, I figured that the folks at Old Hickory probably knew what they were doing by now.
Small-town country restaurants like Old Hickory are what I grew up on, so I felt right at home. Their quaint tables feature the advertising of other local businesses, because in a place like this people still believe in helping one another. The unassuming decor and simplistic atmosphere are also quite welcoming, complete with warm woods and rustic colors. It's not modern, but it is comforting. This is the kind of easy-going restaurant where you come to just kick back and enjoy a pleasant meal with family and friends. Of course, Old Hickory brings in its fair share of tourists as well.
The easy part was ordering Old Hickory's three-meat Combination Plate, the hard part was figuring out which of their nine meats to include. After much agonizing deliberation, I selected sliced mutton, a dark meat quarter-chicken, and pork ribs, with sides of potato salad and onion rings. Customers can opt to get their meats straight from the pit at a mere 50-cent upcharge, and I highly recommend that you do so.
Between the finely diced potatoes and the strong pickle tang, this potato salad was a touch different than what I'm used to. It was also loaded up with pimentos. All of this gave the potato salad a great, potent flavor. I can't say whether the onion rings here are handmade or frozen (although I do have my suspicions), but they hit the spot either way. The crisp batter and light salting was just right.
The mutton looked a little like church picnic stew, but thankfully tasted better. It was very tender and only slightly smoky. There was also a mild sweetness to it from the mop sauce. I found it to be a tad greasy for my liking, although most mutton generally is.
I had been staring longingly at barbecue chicken all morning and was anxious to finally eat some. The delicious, well-seasoned skin was just what I was hoping for. There wasn't much smoke to be found, but the other flavors more than made up for it. The meat itself was tender, though a little on the dry side. I didn't fault them too much for it though, since that's fairly easy to do with barbecue chicken.
The jet-black crust on my pork ribs was a dead giveaway for deliciousness. Each bite of pork was juicy, tender, and perfectly pink. The meat came away cleanly with only a slight tug, just the way it should be. There was also a great smokiness to the ribs, but then again I never expected anything less.
I completely underestimated how full I had gotten during my morning at the International Bar-B-Q Festival, although I suppose eating six barbecue sandwiches and a bunch of stew is bound to do that. I ended up taking over half of my lunch plate home with me. Oh well, I needed something for dinner anyway.
Old Hickory Bar-B-Q
338 Washington Ave
Owensboro, KY 42301