Monday, October 5, 2009

Golden Rule Barbecue (5/10) - 1700 Martin Street North, Pell City, AL 35125

I left Atlanta at 1pm in route to Saw's Barbecue in southern Birmingham, an approximate 2+ hour drive, to kick off my road trip to Austin.  30 miles shy of my first destination, I passed an advertisement on I-20 for a barbecue restaurant that claimed it had over a century's worth of experience in the business.   Intrigued that a restaurant commercially sold barbecue since 1891 - a time when barbecue was considered unfit for restaurants, I made the gut-decision to cut off the highway and add an additional pit stop to check out what the Golden Rule was up to.

I grabbed a booth in the fairly empty restaurant and decided to keep my order fairly light -- one chopped pork sandwich.  The waitress, more likely annoyed than surprised, took my order and headed off to the kitchen.  I outstretched my hand and put a sample of each of Golden Rule's sauce on the tips of my fingers.  Alabama white barbecue sauce is hardly barbecue sauce at all.  It is a mayonnaise-based sauce with black pepper (and other ingredients) that the local Alabamians smother over their smoked chicken.  It tasted like a dumbed-down tartar sauce.  Not for this guy.  The sweet and regular sauces had good consistency -- not too thin (like what is served in the Carolinas) -- and the hot sauce tasted just like the regular sauce but with a little kick.  If I bought a bottle of one of the Golden Rule's sauces and left it in my fridge door, I'd imagine it would get some good use in the kitchen.

When the sandwich was brought to the table, the restaurant had already put a liberal amount of sauce on the meat that had already dripped out over the sides of the bun.  I found a tiny piece of uncontaminated meat and took it right to the face.  The meat was fairly dry, but it did have an authentic slow cooked and wood-smoked flavor to it.  I reached for the bottle of hot sauce and subsequently added a second coat to the meat.  I originally planned on eating only half of the sandwich to leave room for Saw's Barbecue but I uncontrollably finished the whole thing.

Golden Rule is a chain with a slew of locations across Alabama and Tennessee, and I'd probably be hesitant to return to try more from its menu.  The sandwich was good, but it was neither special or intriguing in way that would merit a second visit.

Golden Rule BBQ of Pell City on Urbanspoon

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Ratings and Reviews

In order to provide a consistent grading standard across each restaurant/region, I order a barbecue pork sandwich (and other meats/sides if a restaurant/region specializes in another specialty). In addition to comparing the quality of food, I will also take into consideration other intangibles (ambiance, atmosphere, service, authenticity, etc.) in my ratings as I deem appropriate.

Basically, a 10/10 represents an incredible meal, while a 6/10 score indicates a decent dining experience but a substantial number of dishes fell short of great. Lower scores indicate unpleasant experiences which I would most likely not even recommend to my worst enemy (Jonas Singer).

I reserve the right to continuously edit/update previous posts and to change rating scores as I see fit.