Despite a propensity for Asian foods, sometimes I’ll find myself in the mood for good bbq. Unfortunately, Jackson doesn’t offer very many bbq selections. Nevertheless, I decided to take a look on Urbanspoon and see what the good people of Jackson rated as good bbq. After a few minutes of browsing, I read a few glowing reviews of Hickory Pit. Hickory Pit has been a fixture of Canton Mart Road as long as I can remember, but I’ve never really given it a try. With tasty bbq on my mind, I headed to the Hickory Pit.
Whenever I try a new bbq joint, I always order a combo plate, just to get a taste of what variety the restaurant has to offer. In the case of Hickory Pit, it was a combination of ribs and chicken.
It seems that you can’t have bbq without a big piece of buttered toast.
Going straight for the ribs, I was immediately disappointed.
There was no smoke ring, no smoke flavor, not good rub flavor, actually there wasn’t any real flavor at all. The ribs were greasy and overcooked.
I wanted to give everything a fair shake, so I tried the ribs with all three bbq sauces. The sauces ran the gamut from sweet to spicy to a seemingly vinegar based sauce, and they were all just as disappointing as the ribs. Of the three, the sweet sauce seemed to work best with the ribs, but each bite left me wondering if there was liquid smoke in the sauce. Maybe it was desperate attempt to add some body to the ribs
Turning to the sides, I decided to try a few of the french fries.
French fries that are nothing more than fried frozen Ore Ida potato wedges and in dire need of salt, what a great accompaniment.
Maybe there would be better luck with the baked beans?
I’ll admit the baked beans weren’t bad. I liked the big chunks of peppers and onions, but I wished there was more than just the few flecks of pork in the dish.
They say that looks can be deceiving, but at the Hickory Pit, they’re not.
When I first laid eyes on the half chicken, I thought something was wrong. The greasy skin looks like the chicken was more boiled than bbq, and the pool of grease on the plate was far from awe inspiring. I soldiered on and went straight for a piece of dark meat, and I was greeted with a piece of chalk. There was no smoke flavor. There was nothing juicy, this had been cooked till it could pass for sidewalk chalk. Knowing it was a mistake, I tried the white meat as well. It was worse. Even more terrible was the fact that the sauces did nothing. I know chickens lead a horrible life, but to end up like this is adding insult after insult to injury.
I’ll admit I was ready to write this up as just plain bad bbq.
I’m not kidding when I say this was how much food I left on the tray. I love food, but I’d rather go hungry than eat dreck like this. However, after a barrage of insults following my review of Majestic Burger, I knew that I should at least go to Hickory Pit for a second try. So, later that week, after reading glowing reviews of pulled pork and hamburgers, I went back to Hickory Pit for round 2.
This time I was going for sandwiches, and wouldn’t you know that the pulled pork was up first.
Like before the pork was dry, not as arid as the half chicken, but still overcooked and quite poor.
Once I got past the odd cole slaw, why such huge carrots, I found that the mild bbq sauce helped the pulled pork sandwich a little but there was nothing worth ordering again.
What about the hamburger? Surely, they can make a quality burger?
I’ll give credit where credit is due, the burger at Hickory Pit is not too shabby.
It comes dressed with everything in the kitchen, except cheese, odd when I ordered a cheeseburger. The grilled onions are a nice touch and they go well with this juicy burger. Granted this is a solid burger, I don’t see what some people are raving about. This is just a decently cooked burger, there’s nothing exceptional about the meat, the toppings, the bun, or really anything at all. Congratulations to Hickory Pit for doing something relatively well.
Moving to the last sandwich, it’s time for the pulled beef.
Like the burger, this wasn’t too bad. There was a decent amount of beef flavor, but like everything else at the Hickory Pit, there was no evidence of smoke. I was a little surprised at how the beef was a little juicy, but still had an odd chalky flavor. Is that some secret ingredient to Hickory Pit bbq? If it is, they should drop it immediately. Not surprisingly, none of the sauces really worked well with the pulled beef, but I subscribe to the school that says that beef bbq should stand on its own and showcase the flavor of the beef, not the sauce.
I’m almost positive that this review will offend some of the Hickory Pit faithful. I’m surprised that the reader’s of Mississippi Magazine voted Hickory Pit the best bbq in the state, granted I’ve disagreed with a lot of their choices before. An interesting thing about Hickory Pit is that I’ve had a few people tell me their desserts are what people go for. That is just a little shocking. If people only recommend Hickory Pit for the desserts, they should shut down the smoker and reopen as a bakery. In the end, I’d say that if you’re dead set on going to Hickory Pit, get the beef, but honestly, I’d recommend looking somewhere else for good bbq.