Barbecuing is not simply a cooking method, it is a sport. National cook-offs allow the best of the best to showcase their award winning barbecue. Experts agree, that good barbecue should satisfy in appearance, tenderness/texture, and taste. No, I am no barbecue expert. Nor do I pull out a grading rubric when I eat. I do, however, believe that the true appreciation for barbecuing is lost on today’s consumer. It has become all about the sauce with little rave about the meat. Drowning the meat in sauce takes away from some enjoyable barbecue flavors.
The Pottery Grill of Cottondale and Northport has stuck with the old fashioned way for many years. “Food the way it’s supposed to be cooked,” has been the motto since 1991. On top of a hickory wood fire, their barbeque is slow cooked for up to 16 hours. And you can taste it in each bite.
Immediately inside The Pottery Grill’s doors, the sweet aroma caused a mouthwatering effect. The front led right up to the counter where a friendly staff member waited to take orders. The menu board was displayed along the wall behind the counter. The options were what one would expect at a barbeque restaurant. It took a few minutes to glance over the menu. Meats are never the trouble, it’s the sides that take careful consideration. After a pretty heavy conversation about our options, we went with pulled pork, ribs, macaroni and cheese, and baked beans. We are such creatures of habit. But, it is hard to go wrong with baked beans and macaroni and cheese. Beverage cups were given to us after we placed the order and we were assured our meal would be prompt.
The main dining area still resembled that of the restaurant before it, Willy T’s. Décor was limited to flat screen televisions hung from the walls. Hard seating booths provided seating for a party of two or four. Within ten minutes our food was served. Once again, the aroma overwhelmed my taste buds. The plates appeared bland, however that didn’t stop my hunger cues from telling me to dig in. The pulled pork claimed most of the plate and shared the rest with the baked beans. The beans were more of a pork and bean base with a mild smoky flavor. I enjoyed them very much. A small bowl of white cheddar macaroni and cheese was served a la cart. The cheese stretched with the fork all the way to my mouth. It was deliciously gooey. Good ol’ sliced white bread accompanied each plate. Though my husband thinks the bread is a waste of space, I take great pleasure in eating bread that has been submerged in barbecue sauce. The pulled pork showed no signs of char or bark. Each bite was consistently tender and moist. The taste wasn’t masked by sauce. In fact, there was very little visible sauce. To even taste it we had to ask for a side cup. The sauce was complex. I could not decide if I enjoyed it or not. The sweet and tangy did not balance well for me, but I know of those who swear it’s the best around.
The ribs were a crowd pleaser as well. Firm, but tender meat provided a savory taste.
A carry-out box was necessary. Our ticket totaled $22.30. This included a 1-meat plate with two sides, a 2-meat plate with two sides, and two beverages. Tuscaloosa is not shy of barbeque restaurants and each one brings something different to the palette.
The Pottery Grill brings the barbecue basics, which I believe is the way it’s supposed to be. Tweet us @ThePlanetWeekly and let us know where you are eating in town.
The Pottery Grill is located at 3420 Highway 69 N, Northport, Alabama and 13451 Highway 11 North, Cottondale, Alabama 35453. Hours of operation are Monday – Thursday 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m., and Sunday 10:30-4:00 p.m. The Cottendale location is closed on Mondays.
Cindy Huggins RDN, LD is a registered dietitian nutritionist and local “foodie.” Tweet her @DietitianCindy

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