Memorable | One of the Best
Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge: Tasty Pit-cooked Pork and Hushpuppies
Review by: Michael Stern
Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge cooks its meat in a huge pit the size of a small motel adjacent to the restaurant; and the hickory-pork aroma seeping from this pit is a temptation to the Roadfood passer-by more alluring than perfume from Paris, France.
There is no menu, just the slip of paper used by the waitress to take orders. It has the short list of what is available, which she explains if you are not an experienced North Carolina barbecue eater. Our waitress turned out to be a connoisseur of local soft drinks to accompany the Q. “Cheerwine is cherry,” she told us, “but my favorite is Sundrop, which is like Sprite but more citrusy, and better. You’ll like it with your pork.” We sure did.
What to eat at Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby, NC
Choose a sandwich, a tray, or a plate. A tray is simply barbecue and barbecue slaw; a plate also holds French fries, lettuce, tomato, and pickle. Both are accompanied by a basket of hushpuppies, and whether you select sandwich, tray, or plate, you will have to decide if you want your meat minced, chopped, or sliced. It is a major decision, for they are virtually different foods. Minced meat is really hacked up, pulverized into moist hash with some little shreds of darkened, chewy crust among the distressed pork. The mound is held together by a smidgen of uniquely North Carolinian sauce – tomato based, but with a strong vinegar tang. Chopped is chunky, and sliced barbecue comes as big, soft flaps. With the pork comes a Styrofoam cup of warm sauce for dipping.
The hushpuppies are curious: elongated crescents with a wickedly brittle, sandy-textured crust. The slaw is strange, too, if you are expecting anything like typical cole slaw. This is barbecue slaw, meaning finely chopped cabbage bound together with – what else? – barbecue sauce! It’s got zest and crunch, and a pearly-red color that handsomely complements pork. The small tray, by the way, is only about three by five inches and an inch-and-a-half deep, but it is astounding how much meat and slaw get packed into it.
Note: Bridges is closed Monday and Tuesday.
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