Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hickory Hut - St. Paul, MN (Bar-B-Quest 2012!)

This guest post is from HotGirlsBrother. I told him to go without me to the Hickory Hut and report back. Hopefully, he won't try to take my blog job now. He's a pretty good writer (don't tell him I said that though).

The Hickory Hut is literally three doors west of Big Daddy's, on the same side of University Ave. I think the readers are already well aware of how Chao and I feel about Big Daddy's. So already, as LowVee and I are pulling into the parking lot, my expectations are really high due to the "neighborhood competition." Then, I actually bump into a friend in the parking lot, who is getting Hut take-out for his wife and himself! He then proceeds to tell me how excited he is for us to be eating there for the first time. Seriously, high expectations!
We walk in and it smells fantastic. I don't know why, but the decor is not at all what I was expecting. I've been hearing about this place for years, and for some reason I expected something darker and lodge-esque, and booths with thick wood tables. Instead we were met with white-tiled walls and formica. And it was smaller than I'd imagined too. So that was a surprise.
They do have one of the more expansive menus we've seen on the Bar-B-Quest, and a wide soda selection (strawberry soda on the fountain! We thought of Chao). We set about ordering our usual. LowVee and I split the full rack of pork ribs, with beans and coleslaw for each of us. We also ordered a side of "Ho-Jo" potatoes to share, and LowVee got some cornbread for herself. Everything came out in styro containers on a cafeteria tray, so we're off to a good start.

Sides first:

We started in on the Ho-Jo potatoes right away. These were absolutely fantastic. The crispiness level varied a bit, with some of the thinner "fries" being almost like chips. In general, they were golden crispy (with just the right amount of chewy) and seasoned to perfection. We really can't say enough good things about them. They were great on their own, and even better dipped in the BBQ sauce. Next we tried the beans, which were quite good and very basic. Good flavor, standard "canned bean" texture, no funny business. Some of the better beans we've had on the Quest, but maybe not anything to write home about. The slaw had good crunch and texture, but was extremely sweet. LowVee and I both agreed, and neither of us finished ours. The cornbread came in the same cupcake-sized styrofoam container the beans and slaw came in, which was kind of adorable and kept the cornbread very warm. LowVee loved the cornbread, and declared it her second favorite of the Quest (behind Rudolph's).

Then, the ribs. We ordered our ribs dry, with the sauce on the side, so we both tried the ribs with no sauce first. This meat has amazing flavor. The rub is just-right-salty, and the seasoned smokey flavor is spot-on, complimenting the meat without burying the natural flavor of the it. Really impressive. And their sauce is killer. Not too sweet, loud flavor, and a bit of kick without being too spicy. Probably one of my favorite sauces we've had. The only criticism I have is that the meat was very tough. We really had to work hard to get it off the bones, and there was a lot of debris left on the bones when we were done. Fortunately it was worth the effort because everything tasted so damn good, but also it almost makes it that much more of a disappointment because everything tasted so good. The preparation of the meat fell short where everything else (except the slaw) delivered in spades... which is a shame.

LowVee decided there that the Hut was her winner over Pastor Hamilton's, but I have been really on the fence since then as to who is better between them. Initially, I thought Hamilton's was the winner in a close match. The sticking point for me being the toughness of the Hut's meat (because the meat at Hamilton's was so tender and juicy). But, after much consideration, I have to give it to the Hut. Frankly, everything just tasted too good. It was a tough call, and I fully intend to patronize both establishments in the future. Really, if it weren't for the tough meat, I think the Hut would probably give some of the best BBQ joints in the metro a run for their money. It tasted that good. So the Hickory Hut wins this one, and advances on to the next round, where they will be up against CG Hooks.

Here's the bracket, thus far:
Thank you very much, HotGirlsBrother. I'm looking forward to getting back on board with the Bar-B-Quest action. Possibly on a boat.
Top 5 things about Hickory Hut:

1. Ho-Jo potatoes
2. Rib flavor
3. BBQ Sauce
4. Delicious, moist cornbread in a cute little container
5. Strawberry soda in the fountain!

Bottom 5 things:
1. Tough meat
2. Super-sweet slaw
3. Had to ask for wetnaps (c'mon people, that should be a given!)
4. Unexciting toast?
5... I really can't think of 5 bad things

Hickory Hut
647 University Avenue W.
St. Paul, MN 55104

1 comment:

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