Not so Heavenly Hog

The Seneca BBQ data collection continued last weekend when I made the decision to try Heavenly Hog. Turns out it happens to be the closest BBQ joint to my home. The outside looked promising; a stand alone building kind of out in the middle of nowhere, screened in smoke room built on to the side, some pig silhouettes on the front of the building, and customers at 11:15.

The inside gave some indication the original look was a good old cinderblock building. The inside block walls are painted a dark color with heavy wood furniture, plastic table cloths and a kind of divey décor. There were a few people eating and another waiting to get a carry out order. So far, so good. Judging by the menu boards they seemed like more of a diner that featured BBQ rather than a straight up BBQ joint. They were really showing off the meat & two options. Well I came for the BBQ and that’s what I got. From the friendly staff I used the same logic as Black’s and got 2 plates to go so I could sample and split. I got the BBQ sandwich plate and a 1/2 rack plate.

They had a decent number of side options and I went with some southern staples to go with the sandwich and ribs. Initial impressions were mixed. The little containers they put the sides in made the portions seem a bit skimpy except for the okra which was plentiful. The BBQ in the sandwich and the rib portion I thought was good for the money. The sauces, both mild and hot, looked kind of ketchupy so I wasn’t overly excited. The proof would be in the pudding, or in this case the pulled pork. I made my sampler plate and plated the rest for future meals.

Let’s get the sides out of the way first. Fried okra competently done and plentiful, number 2 out of the 4. The green beans were right of the can and no seasoning, I think they may even have been the low sodium canned variety. Definitely bottom of the heap, which made me sad because I love green beans. Mac and cheese was again OK, better than Black’s but nothing to get excited about. Number 3 on the side parade. The sweet potato soufflé was by far the standout in this quartet. Nice sweet potato flavor, the brown sugar was prominent but not dominant and the nuts were just the right amount. On to the BBQ.

The pulled pork in the sandwich was, as I mentioned, a decent portion of lightly seasoned and smoked meat. OK by itself but definitely benefitting from sauce. The hot sauce was at best medium and almost a mild spice level to me. It was a little sweeter and tangier than ketchup so the initial impression was overcome a bit. The mild sauce just had no spiciness at all and should just have been called plain.

The ribs had possibility but by the pale look I knew I was going to be disappointed. I do feel like the portion I got for the price paid was more than competitive to other places I’ve been. The meat pulled away from the bone but in the way that seemed to indicate they’d been boiled first before going on the smoker to tender them up. That would have been ok but they weren’t on the smoker long enough to get a really good smoked flavor. The rub was good but if you didn’t get a piece with a fair bit of rub on it the whole thing felt kind of washed out. Dredging it through the sauce helped and on the whole it filled me up.

I think I will go back and try one of their meat & two options because I liked the atmosphere and I want to like the place. Overall though of the 3 local BBQ spots tried so far they are number 3 for BBQ for me.

I think one more new spot and I will have the majority of the Seneca spots covered for BBQ.

A Month of Mexican, Dos

I really wanted to type Equis after that dos. Too many commercials.

So for week 2 I modified my original plan which was to try a place recommended by a co-worker. Sadly that place was in Clemson, on a home game Saturday. No, just no. For a town of it’s size there aren’t all that many Mexican places in Seneca but I found California’s Mexican Grill.

It is located in a little shopping strip that is well past its prime but it’s also on two main roads making it convenient and easy to get to. I arrived fairly early for dinner or really late for lunch because I’d only eaten a snack while watching the Georgia game. I was the lone customer and I think I woke the guy up who waited on me. He waved me to a booth and grabbed a menu, cutlery, chips and dip.

I was surprised it was bean dip instead of the traditional salsa but it told me they weren’t afraid to be different. It was a tad bland but a little salt buffed it up enough to be enjoyable. While I was moderately chipping and dipping I honed in on the Platillos Mexicanos.

I figured if you were going to call it Mexican plates then maybe something authenticish might be an option. I read them all and settled on the first one, Platillo de Chile Verde. Pork in green sauce with rice, beans and a sort of salad thing with some tortillas thrown in for good measure. Yes please.

That pork isn’t particularly attractive but man was it good. The tomatillos, peppers and spices made a really piquant sauce and the pork was fork tender. The sides were all straight out of the Mexican restaurant handbook but I didn’t care because that pork was really nice. In fact as I was talking to the waiter he said when he brought mine it looked so good he went and got some for himself and thanked me for ordering it.

They had the standard fare but there were enough other options that felt more authentically Mexican and enough you could find that would be on the healthier side I’d say California’s Mexican Grill is worth keeping in mind when I have a taste for Mexican.