JESUP, Georgia (August 8, 2016) – It used to be that good barbecue joints were drive-ins with carhops or sit-down restaurants out on the highway. The drive-ins were usually sandwiches only, while the sit-downs offered a whole loaf of white bread and a roll of paper towels on the table. You were supposed to sloppily enjoy yourself. But lately, barbecue joints spread themselves across the strip malls of America and became nothing but bland fast food restaurants.
I found myself in Jesup at lunchtime, so I looked up BBQ on my phone. I was given three options – one was closed, one I had been to previously, so I chose the third – Hillbilly’s Grill and BBQ.
Following my phone’s directions, I soon found myself on a two-lane country road headed out of town. After a couple of miles, I came to a wooden sign pointing me down a dead end road. I turned left.
A couple of hundred yards farther, I found a nice building with plenty of parking. Off to the left was a small pond.
Inside, the staff greeted and seated me quickly. I ordered what I always get at new places – a pulled pork sandwich and whatever sides come with it. And, of course, sweet tea (that’s iced for you Yankees.)
After only a few minutes wait, my food arrived – the presentation was fairly typical – a plastic basket, paper liner and the sandwich on top. The cole slaw was served in a bowl on the side.
The sandwich itself was served on a warmed, not toasted, partially flattened bun that was sliced in half. It was hard to see but it seemed to be wheat bread or multi-grain. The meat was piled on each half of the bun. It tasted like good pork should with an underlying flavor of smoke. There was no sauce in the meat, but a sauce was served in a bowl on the side.
The sauce was interesting. It was a sweet, smoky taste with a bit of an afterbite. Sampling it alone, it seemed far too sweet, but when spread on the meat and eaten with the sandwich, it was perfect. The flavors blended well.
The cole slaw was a very pleasant surprise. I’ve been served some where I’d swear there was as much sugar as cabbage in the slaw. Not the case here. The cabbage was chopped into larger chunks than normal. It was fresh and gave a very satisfying crunch. There was only a hint of sweetness.
Most barbecue joints have something that dominates – a strong meat, strong sauce, something. But Hillbilly’s Grill is much more subtle. The flavors sneak up on you – they are subtle.
I liked it very much and intend to go back.