HILLBILLY HEAVEN647 Upper James St, Hamilton
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Parking was tight and full as we entered the back parking lot just after 6pm on a Saturday night. This was a good sign it was at least busy and therefore hopefully yummy. Upon entering the newly renovated building that sits rather inconspicuously at a major intersection, we immediately saw, felt and even tasted the smoke in the restaurant. I’m not talking cigarette smoke (thank god for the ban years ago..how did we ever eat with clouds of toxins around our head?). l’m talking smoked meat smoke from the smoker out back. We knew instantly we’d be leaving smelling like a bunch of bbq ribs, the intoxicating smell immediately sticking to our hair, our coats and our skin. The owner instantly greeted us with a jolly attitude and assured we’d only have to wait 2-5min for a table while he tried to “kick someone else out”. Many patrons waited patiently around the front entrance, that’s set up more like a fast food diner, for their take-out orders to come through. The owner came by twice during our 10min wait to assure us its absolutely worth the wait and we wouldn’t disappointed and he’d be glad to send us to another restaurant where we wouldn’t have to wait, but their food would be far inferior to his. We stuck it out and it wasn’t long before a cozy little table, somewhat in its own little nook opened for me, my husband and the couple we had come with.
The roadhouse, southern American décor was inviting and let you know exactly what kinda food you were gonna eat. The few tables that did exist in the space were full and the front entrance was constantly shifting new patrons ordering their Saturday night take-out meals. We knew what we wanted to order instantly so got right to it and the waitress directed us to the cooler fridge to grab whatever drinks we preferred. Perhaps most hillbilly’s would prefer a cold brewskie with their meal of meat, but as far as I could see no liquor license here and ice tea and lemonade are the drinks of choice instead.
Within 10 min of ordering our food was out, piping hot, smelling delicious and a heaven for any carnivore. I’ll be upfront and say I’m not the biggest meat eater in the world, but don’t mind a good rib every now and again. My husband on the other hand, has just started an all protein diet today, and thus is a caveman through and through in his meat eating tendency. Ultimate bliss for him. Between us we shared “The Smoker” a meal fit for 4 people at least. Beef brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, rib tips and fried chicken plus four sides. We chose the creamy coleslaw, mac n cheese, battered extreme beans and smoked potato. The meat came out on one big silver platter lined with checkered paper while the sides all came on another. There was little time to converse with our friends as we put our heads down and went to work. The fried chicken I’ll admit was one of the juiciest pieces of chicken I’ve had in a long time with a not too battered exterior. The rest of the meat on the plate was all cooked perfectly, smoked for a long time, seasoned just right, pulled perfectly and mounded high on the plate. The in house hot sauce on the table, which I will say was not very hot at all, accompanied all the meats very well and had a slight sweet kick to it as well. My favourite was actually the battered extreme beans. Probably not any healthier than a French fry but at least it’s a vegetable. The beans may have been a spiced pickled variety, since they squirted out a vinegary taste when bit into. But nonetheless they were battered and fried perfectly, they were long and great for dipping in the special sauce they came with. The smoked potato was super fluffy on the inside and almost blackened crisp on the outside. I didn’t really get a bite of the mac n cheese since my husband claimed that as his own and the coleslaw, which was initially missing from my plate, ended up being super creamy and probably void of any cabbage or carrot nutrients by that point. This is not a place to watch your waistline and indulgence is the key to enjoying any part of their menu.
After not speaking much for 20 minutes and filling our bellies full of meat, we came up for a breath, smiled at each other in accomplishment and sighed a relief of finality. A sign of good portion servings is when there is leftovers with my husband and he clearly had a whole other meal ready to be packed up for the next days gorge fest. For $40 this meal could easily feed a family of 4 with moderate appetites. The food, the taste, the hillbilly ambiance and the charismatic owner were worth throwing the diet out the window that night. We will definitely return, but out of respect for my heart, arteries and digestive tract it might only be a once a year treat!Rating:
Food: 4.5*, Value: 5*, Service: 4.5*, Décor/Ambiance: 4.5*
Overall: 4.6 (good value for money, no other place smokes n seasons their meat like this place, the character of the owner n staff and space lend to a true hillbilly experience!)