Well, hallelujah. Pit to Plate doesn’t disappoint.
Terry and I, after spending a ton of time talking to Terry Lee over at Outside about barbecue, decided that we absolutely, positively, NEEDED to get barbecue right then. Terry Lee sent us off, telling us to report back on the “Q”.
So we did. I love Saturdays.
Pit to Plate, on Hamilton Avenue in Mt. Healthy, is the epitome of kitsch. It is decorated, floor to ceiling, with pigs and symbols of Texas. Several of the booths are made to look like wagon wheels (avoid them, they’re uncomfortable) and the whole thing seems like a really pork-oriented episode of Hee Haw. This isn’t a bad thing. I could not capture its greatness with my Blackberry’s camera, but trust me: it’s a trip.
You seat yourself, and at your table there’s a huge roll of paper towels and six sauces. Six! Most places have one or two. Your choices: Regular, Hot (not that hot), Mustard-based, North Carolina, Wrangler (which is the Regular, NC and Mustard mixed together) and Garlic (which is essentially hot wing sauce) . There are others, too– you just have to ask.
My favorites were the Hot and the Mustard, though I tried a little bit of each. This is a good sign– barbecue is enhanced by sauce, not defined by it, so picking and applying your own is a good thing.
They have a pretty extensive menu, but we chose pretty simply: pulled pork, and Terry got some ribs, too. He chose coleslaw and greens, and I got coleslaw and macaroni and cheese.
The pork was really great– very moist, very flavorful on its own, and complimented well by the sauce. And there was a TON of it. My only complaint is that I got little outside meat– the parts that are all crispy and delicious from the smoking process. Darnit. Terry loved it too, and has declared it the best barbecue he’s had in Cincinnati. Nice.
The colesaw was fairly standard, studded with celery seeds and mayonnaise-based. The macaroni and cheese was very standard stovetop, and sort of watery and unimpressive. I wouldn’t order it again. Terry also picked up some deviled eggs, which were fairly bland.
Terry really liked the greens, and I did too– not too mushy, with a nice hint of smokiness from whatever pork product they boiled it with (smoked ham hocks, perhaps?). The ribs, however, were killer– not too smoky, with a really nice rub and a crisp outside. The inside was still moist, and they were fall-off-the-bone tender.
You can wash this all down with sweet tea of the nearly-stand-your-spoon-up-in-it variety. I chose a diet Coke, as I am on a diet. Moderation is the key– we took home two big boxes of food, which became our lunches the next day.
Our amended Barbecue Ranking
1. Pit to Plate
3. Mr. Pig
4. City Barbecue
A distant 6. BBQ Revue