Chapter Two: Saw’s BBQ – Homewood 7/31/16
The trip that started it all.
On the face of it, it was a damn travesty of a little road trip. I am sure many a person would have given up and just gone back home at any number of points during the course of this jaunt. But we toughed it out, and the reward was worth every second.
We met in Montgomery, and piling into Ryan’s trailblazer set out north. We had it in mind to hit Saw’s, which we had heard won some sort of award, and then go to Seasick Records to spend money we shouldn’t. A sound plan that failed to factor one issue:
We had not made it to Verbena before the interstate had slowed to practically a crawl. Why? A wreck? Beach traffic? Who knows? All we knew was if we could make it a few more miles we could get off in Verbena and take US 31 right on up into the ‘Ham.
Those few miles took roughly an eternity.
Keep in mind throughout all this that we were both trying to lose weight. And knowing that we were going to go eat a huge fatty meal had skimped on food all day to make ourselves feel better about being terrible dieters. So we were already a might bit peckish.
Eventually we hit the exit and made our way onto 31. We were off! Finally making decent speed again we passed through a number of neat little small towns. Verbena, Clanton, Thorsby, Jemison, Calera and more, any one of which I am sure had all manner of neat little nooks and crannies to explore. We even talked about going to see the Swedish cemetery in Thorsby…but our stomachs got the best of us.
We crossed back over the interstate, chortling as we saw it was still moving slowly. Clearly we had made the correct choice in going off the main road we said to ourselves.
This was correct. For a while. Until it no longer was.
I am not fully sure what happened but I suspect where 31 entered a town of which name I am unsure of, a town with many lights, traffic all but stopped. So we pulled into a gas station and purchased glass bottle Dr. Pepper’s, because we were about to pass out and die of hunger by this point. I got out my phone, and google maps revealed unto me an alternate route.
By taking back roads you can go from US 31 to 280. I don’t recall all the roads, but one stands out:
Jefferson County Road 331.
This is my recommended sight. It’s not a long road, and it is a bit out of the way if you are going, well, anywhere. But this was one of the neatest little roads I have ridden down in Alabama. But up and down its length are amazing homes, horse ranches, and some really awesome forestland. It’s extremely hilly, with lots of sharp turns and corners, which made me think of some sort of racecar test track. I bet if you were in a Porsche or the like it would be the bee’s knees.
As it was, in a trailblazer racing towards bbq and an empty stomach, I got a touch motion sick. So make sure you have a pack of crackers before you start, or perhaps go at a bit more leisurely rate than Ryan ‘the Stig’ Frank.
Finally we hit 280, though right in the middle of rush hour. I though Ryan was going to road rage murder suicide, but at last we pulled up in front of Saw’s. It was as though the heavens parted. I swear I heard a chorus of angels.
Inside was nothing fancy, but then if you want fancy, bbq is no the food for you. Sidling up to the register we enquired what they were known for. The response was that initially they were famous for their pulled pork, but he insisted that we had to try the ribs, as that was what they were building quite a reputation for. So we both opted for a platter with two ribs, pulled pork, chicken with white sauce, and two sides.
I have known for years that Alabama was known for its white sauce, but this was the first place I had ever been to that actually have it. I don’t like mayo, the base of a good white sauce, so I was hesitant.
I was wrong for that. It was really good and tangy, and accented the chicken perfectly. I am unsure if I would want it for pork or beef, but its grand on chicken. To the point that I dare say I would prefer it to a more ‘normal’ sauce on chicken. The chicken itself was good. But the sauce stole that show.
The pork was spot on as well. Not the best I have ever had, but pretty damn close. Very tender, and just as good ‘dry’ as with sauce. It pulled apart with a fork with ease, and had just the right amount of greasiness to it. All in all, pretty sporty.
The ribs though. As Ryan would text me a few days later “The ribs, they’re haunting me.” They were the best ribs I have ever had from a restaurant. They were cooked perfectly, not at all dry and overcooked. The meat came off easily (but not too easily) leaving a nice clean bone. It also had the perfect amount of sauce, just enough to require a good number of napkins, but not leaving your face looking like a Japanese horror film.
For the sides I opted for double mac and cheese, and was not disappointed. It was fairly standard mac and cheese from a southern eatery, but tasted a bit better than average. Good consistency.
Overall, I can’t recommend Saw’s enough. Whatever award they won, they deserved it. Could not have picked a better place to start this book off, even if it was not a conscious decision.
Ryan’s Thoughts: The ribs, they’re haunting me.
Must Get: The ribs. The mac and cheese. Can’t go wrong with the sampler though.
In the area: We walked around the area after, since we knew we had a long car ride back. Lots of neat little restaurants, and most tempting there was an ice cream parlor a few doors down. It’s relatively close to Five Points as well as the Summit, so if shopping, bars, and such is your thing, there will be something for you to do.