Memorable | One of the Best
Review by: Michael Stern
In some ways, Neal’s is a conventional Savannah River area BBQ parlor: open only Thursday through Saturday, a menu limited to pork and chicken (and catfish Friday and Saturday nights), pig figurine decor everywhere you look, eat-in-the-rough food delivery system (order and pay at the counter, then find a seat), low prices, and very local clientele. The pork is familiar, too: hacked into motley smithereens, just faintly smoky and piggy-sweet, a little bit moist but not so moist that an application of thin, tangy red sauce (hot or mild) isn’t welcome. In a sandwich or on a plate, it is endlessly satisfying — a wonderful style of whole-hog BBQ unique to this part of the deep South.
One element is different, though: Neal’s hash. Throughout much of Georgia, BBQ is accompanied by Brunswick stew, a stout mix of smoked pork and vegetables — beans, corn, tomatoes, and sometimes more. To the east in South Carolina, the traditional pork companion is hash on rice, which usually is a visceral gravy that is all about shreds of pork but with few if any vegetables. Here at Neal’s you get hash on rice, but it isn’t much like the more viscous fare of the Palmetto State. This pork — whole hog, mind you! — is ground into a pebbly mix and suspended in hefty tomato based sauce to become something that reminds me of Sloppy Joe. It is so dramatically unlike Neal’s chopped pork that I actually thought it was some other meat. Could it possibly be beef? It was that different.
Waitress Lynn set the record straight, assuring me that it’s nothing but pork. No vegetables at all, and certainly no beef. As much as Lynn likes traditional Brunswick stew with all its vegetables, she is leery of adding corn to this mix. “If you don’t watch out, it can sour your hash,” she advised. My tongue’s confusion aside, it is swell hash, and a boon plate partner for the more traditional hacked-up pork. It was good also as a break from Neal’s ribs, which are piggy-porky to the max, slathered with sauce, and sheer indulgence to gnaw. The only problem is that the ultra-messy ribs can only be eaten by hand and the hash demands a utensil. It becomes clear why every table is equipped with a roll of paper towels. At one lunch, I used what seemed to be half a roll.
|Meals Served||Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|