Mediocre BBQ in the South is usually better than the best BBQ in other areas of the country. Today, I finally went to a BBQ place I've been meaning to go to for years. Located across from the Venice, FL Regional Hospital, Gold Rush BBQ has a chintzy Western/gold prospector motif, but the name of the place and the decor are the only thing that would remind one of the West. The food is purely, to put it mildly, Southern all the way. Hitting the restaurant at lunch time, I had to stand in line to wait for a table. Crowds at BBQ places are usually a good sign. Finally seated, the waitress brought me a huge glass of sweet tea, and took my order. I ordered a chopped pork sandwich covered with slaw, served with fries and a cucumber salad on the side. I was amazed at the size of the sandwich, which was more than enough to satisfy my BBQ craving. I don't usually eat pulled or chopped pork preferring sliced, but they only offered it chopped, so that's what I ordered. The slaw offered a nice counterbalance in flavors, toning down the intensity that pulled pork usually has, and provided a little texture to the perfectly made sandwich. The sauce was homemade, and had a bit of zip to it, lacking the sweetness that I usually prefer. More Carolina in style, the sauce was still an excellent accompaniment to the sandwich and was delicious. The fries deserve special note, as they were perfectly made and tasted great. I decided to try the cucumber salad, a bargain at only $0.69. It was an salad made with cucumber, tomato, onion, celery, dressing, and celery salt. It was, no hyperbole intended, the best cucumber salad I ever tasted in my life. It was a very elegant little salad, lacking any complexity, yet a perfect accompaniment to the rest of the food. The food was served in metal pans, and the restaurant provided real gold miners pans for the discarded bones. I thought the choice of plates was a bit over the top, but it's the food that's important, not the plates. I noticed other diners eating the ribs, and while they looked good, the portions were not as large as I would have liked. Snooping on my fellow customers, it was apparent that everyone was enjoying the food immensely. The sandwich portion was large enough that I decided to skip my usual pecan pie for dessert, although theirs looked like a world class pie. The ambiance of the Gold Rush was only lacking because there was no good country music playing in the background. Somehow, listening to Toby Keith or Garth Brooks while pigging out enhances the Southern BBQ experience, or so I have noticed. If one has high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, or obesity, it might be best to avoid this place and eat somewhere else. Now that I've had my BBQ fix, I can go back to my usual healthy diet.

Clive Burlin reminds us:

On the subject of slaw, etc: this recipe from J.T., circa 2004 is definitely worth concocting at home.


1 head cabbage, grated fine

1/2 cup fine chop dill pickles

2 cups mayonnaise

1 teaspoon sugar

1 small onion, chopped fine

1 teaspoon pepper


Grate cabbage and let it sit in strainer about 20 minutes. Use paper towel to dry off excess moisture. Transfer cabbage to a bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients and refrigerate about 1 hour before serving. To those that wish to spice it up sprinkle Old Bay Seasoning when finished, you can also sprinkle Old Bay on those ears of corn when buttered up as well as on those Bloody Mary's, hell just put Old Bay on everything.


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