There was no messing about with this barbecue; it was big and hearty and unapologetic for its size. The pulled pork was a highlight – loosely pulled, a little tomato barbecue sauce and plenty of bark. The meat is smoky and succulent, with the occasional cracklin’ for crunch. It arrives un-sauced and unadorned, concealing nothing and revealing the quality and complexity that comes from 14 hours amid wood smoke.
Not unlike a perfectly played pedal steel guitar, Blue Moon’s barbecue has the ethereal ability to pick you up from where you are and carry you someplace a little bit better. And to drink, we washed it down with a sweet iced tea that had us checking our insulin levels. The smoked sausages were a sure shot, as well, even on one bite, hot grease jetted out like a water pistol. With plates ranging from $5.99 to $10.99, each coming with two sides and your choice of flat cornbread or Texas Toast, it’s totally budget friendly.
On my second pit stop was Blue Moon’s brisket, which was woven with just enough fat to make the slivers of meat cling to each other for dear life. It was almost also too beautiful to eat, a great smoke ring protecting a tender pink interior. Of course, I did eat it and it was delicious. Smoked-meat perfection. When the brisket is on point, it’s hard to beat. Fittingly, the old dog knows how to create a fierce bark, a caramelized crust bolstered by coarse black pepper that shields meat that splays out like a spider’s web.
And what would barbecue be without the rib, and Blue Moon can hold its own with any in town. Blue Moon’s rib does plenty of talking. A peppery crust-like melted jerky layers the edge of a massive hunk of meat that slips into a pile of velvety shards from a giant bone big enough for every dog in Wilson County to nibble on. Ribs had good smoke, retaining their toothsomeness, and lots of meat for Flintstoning.
The sides are the epitome of comfort food. The slaw is fresh and crunchy, the fried okra crisp and refreshingly bitter and the smooth and creamy potato salad rounds it off. Chef Todd Beaird’s sides live up to the considerable task of belonging on the same plate with the meaty star of the show. They are clean in flavor and purpose, providing the main ingredients the necessary spotlight.
The dessert offerings are surprising neither in quality nor content. The customary finale for a pig pickin’, Aunt Elsie’s banana pudding, is obviously homemade. I did snag some of her banana pudding and found it to be a perfect specimen, with crunchy vanilla wafers, fresh banana slices and irresistibly sweet custard. With strong flavors of vanilla and custard, her puddin’ gives you a perfect ending to your stomach-stuffing experience.
Blue Moon Barbecue is casual – the kind of place you can just swing by and order good food without fanfare, and that’s as it should be for an authentic barbecue joint. Typical red checkered board table-clothed tables fill the room, complete with a roll of paper towels and sauces in squeeze bottles right in the middle for all your lip-smackin’ needs.
With it’s conversational, eye catching nostalgia covering the walls and picnic-style red/white checkered board tablecloths, Blue Moon gives a down-home, pull-up-a-chair neighborhood feel.
I absolutely love these little neighborhood joints – the hard work is evident in every forkful.
And just as they claim, many barbecue restaurants claim to have championship products. At Blue Moon, they not only claim it, they have the taste and awards to prove it. So drop in for a bite, and they guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
After all, good barbecue only comes around once in a Blue Moon.
Kristin Duncan is marketing and promotions manager for Lebanon Publishing Co. and writer of Eat Like a Girl columns that appear each Wednesday in The Democrat.