As a person who has had gastric bypass surgery, I have avoided most BBQ restaurants. Nothing good can come from a visit to a place who bases it’s reputation on sugar sweetened sauces and pork fat – at least not in terms of the gastrically altered.
I want to remind my readers that I am now 2 and a half years post-op, so some of the things I can tolerate you may not be able to. And some of the things I can tolerate, you shouldn’t even try!
Rude Hawgs, located at 363 West Browning Road in Bellmawr, NJ is a recently opened restaurant in a shopping center that has seen better days. The only places we’ve ever visited in this strip mall are the Domino’s – which is gone – and the bagel store. Rude Hawgs would have gone totally unnoticed had they not blanketed the area with signs. Even with that, the whole BBQ thing made me nervous, so I avoided it as long as I could.
And then it happened. You know it comes. You have nothing in the house for dinner, and you are so sick and tired of pizza or Chinese, you just want something else. So Brighid and I, armed with orders from the homefront to bring back something for dinner, pulled into the parking lot. She ran in and grabbed a menu, and we figured we might as well give it a try.
Once we looked over the menu, we decided to head in and place our order. Cute does not begin to describe this little restaurant! The tables are gorgeous wood picnic style tables, highly glossed and really pretty. There are two rows of these tables along the walls where these tables are, and the way they have it decorated, it looks like you are sitting on someone’s porch. So, so cute.
On this night, we ordered the “Broke ‘Til Tomorrow” meal. As advertised, it comes with 1 pound of any meat except ribs; 1 whole hickory smoked yard bird (which we hope to God means chicken and not something we don’t want to know we’re eating); 3 pints of any side dishes; 6 pieces of corn bread; and a half pint of BBQ sauce. We waited the few minutes it took to put our meal together, and we thought we made some pretty good choices by opting for the pulled pork for our meat; and the macaroni and cheese, green beans, and carrot souffle as our side dishes.
It was all we could do to ride home without pulling over to eat! The smells in the restaurant were good enough, but having all of this delicious barbecue in the car made us nearly delirious. And for about $35, you are carrying home a good amount of food – definitely more than the Colonel gives you.
The true test is in the taste, though, and we were not disappointed. The yardbird (please God don’t let this be a pigeon) was moist and delicious, so flavorful that it really didn’t need any barbecue sauce. The pulled pork was succulent, perfectly cooked and tender, with the right amount of smokey flavor. The macaroni and cheese was just the way I like it, although not to everyone’s taste. I like mine a little on the dry side, and this was, with a hint of garlic in the cheese. The green beans were real country style, with the flavor of pork fat in there somewhere. But the surprise hit was the carrot souffle. Sweet and delicious, I know it has to be bad for me, but it tasted so good, I had seconds.
The meal was way too much food, even for our family of five, and we were able to enjoy leftovers the next day. From a gastric bypass standpoint, the yardbird (rodents don’t have wings, right?) was definitely edible, and for me, the ability to eat chicken is hit or miss, so this was GOOOOOD. The pork was a little bit more difficult, but that was because it was pretty dense and I put a good chunk in my mouth. I was able to eat all of the side dishes, but I did not attempt the cornbread. I would say that the carrot souffle HAD to contain sugar somewhere – or they were the sweetest carrots known to mankind – so be very careful with your portion here. I had about a tablespoon of them, and did fine.
The only negative on our first trip was that there was no barbecue sauce included with the meal. I did have some in our fridge, so that worked out well, and if you are visiting the restaurant, they have a sauce “bar” in the middle of the dining room for you to help yourself. I would have done that if the menu had not indicated it was included with the meal.
We have had three subsequent visits to Rude Hawgs since that first one. We have ordered the same thing each time, with one exception. We visited the restaurant with my in-laws, and added the baby back ribs and had cole slaw as a side. The food is always delicious, but we have had other issues. One time, despite it saying on the menu that you get three sides, they told us we were only supposed to get 2, and the 3 was a typo. We’ve gotten 3 every other time except that once. Another thing is we have always gotten larger, pint sized side dishes, but once we got half-pints. A call to the restaurant produced the answer that we were only supposed to get half pints with that meal ever. Hmmm. I hate it when they can’t get their stories straight, because honestly, right now, I couldn’t tell you for sure what comes with this meal. While the menu clearly says 3 pints of side dishes, we’ve been told something different on two other occasions. That’s a shame.
Overall, this is a good meal, fairly priced, and a wonderful change of pace from the ho-hum take out dinner. We will definitely give Rude Hawgs our barbecue business.