Old Hickory Bar-B-Q (Owensboro, KY)
It always pays to know a local.
When we made the decision to make a stop in Owensboro on our circuitous route back to Louisville for Derby, we were planning that trip solely to sample the barbeque served up by the famous Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn. One of Edie’s best friends from college (thanks, Kelley!) happened to have grown up in Owensboro, so Edie sent her a text to let her know our plans. She said to definitely give the Moonlite buffet a whirl, but if we wanted to sample the BBQ the locals ate, we should also head over to Old Hickory Bar-B-Q before leaving town. So…we headed there first. It was a tough sell to get Scott to eat BBQ twice, but somehow he managed.
Old Hickory Bar-B-Q has been serving up BBQ around the Owensboro area since 1918. It is definitely frequented more by locals than tourists, but it is well worth a trip for tourists, too!
The Meat (a/k/a The Important Stuff!)
Scott opted for a combination plate which comes with 3 meats, 2 sides and sliced white & wheat bread (though he opted to add on some cornbread, too). Since barbequed mutton is featured mostly in western Kentucky and not in BBQ joints across the U.S., Scott opted to pretty much fill his plate with this local specialty.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, mutton is “the flesh of a mature sheep used for food.” Now don’t mistake this to mean an OLD sheep. It generally just means the sheep is no longer a lamb, so older than 12 months.
Scott’s first mutton choice on the combo plate was the ribs. Fall off the bone tender, very juicy, very smoky…in short, un-freakin-believable.
Scott’s second option was the sliced mutton. Again, incredible!! It had a rich, rich taste and was fork-tender and smoky. Nothing at all to criticize here.
Even though we were in the land of mutton, Scott had to mix up his meal just a touch with beef brisket since he is such a fan. Besides, this was a combination plate, not mutton 3 ways!
Tender, flavorful, smoky – this BBQ brisket rivaled that we’d tried in the more beef-centric state of Texas. No disappointment here.
Although she knew she couldn’t finish it, Edie opted for the combination plate, too, mostly to give us the ability to try as many of the meat choices at Old Hickory as possible. [And besides, she loves her puppy so leftovers just make him a happy boy!]
Her first choice on the plate was the pork ribs – always her choice if it is an option. And these ribs certainly lived up to expectations! Smoky and unbelievably tender with a great flavorful crust.
Option 2 for Edie’s plate was the pulled pork. Smoky, juicy, and tender with plenty of flavor without any sauce. Definitely rivaling some of the best pulled pork we’d tried.
For the final selection, we deflected to our server for her recommendation. She said that the turkey was amazing, so for the 2nd time on our BBQ adventures, we got turkey as an option.
Again, it pays to listen to locals. The turkey was super moist and tender with a sweet & smoky flavor.
Old Hickory cooks up a great batch of Southern-style green beans. Our side was super tender with big chunks of meat for flavoring – and the porky flavor came through beautifully.
I suppose we have to have something we don’t like as much, right? Not everything can be spot on, and unfortunately, the cole slaw was that something.
We obviously prefer a more vinegar-based form of this side, but we do like the mayo versions, too. What we don’t like is when the slaw is sitting in a pool of overly liquid mayonnaise juice. Ew. Although the flavor of the slaw at Old Hickory was good, the mayo juice pool took it down a few notches.
The key to good onion rings is great breading and hot enough frying. Old Hickory knows this. Our side of onion rings was perfectly crunchy without being greasy and had a great flavor in the breading.
Macaroni & Cheese
Mac-n-cheese is the ultimate comfort food…and it goes so darn well with BBQ! The side at Old Hickory was perfectly creamy and cheesy without being soupy or watery at all.
The sauce at Old Hickory is a thin, vinegary sauce. We are both fans of vinegar sauces, so we loved it. Although all the meats had great flavor on their own, the sauce added a nice kick occasionally, too.
We LOVE cornbread (Scott especially!). Why else would we be going to Louisville from Owensboro by way of South Pittsburg, TN, than to celebrate that love of cornbread at the National Cornbread Festival? But we digress…
We particularly love cornbread with our BBQ, so when it is available on the menu at a BBQ spot, we always try to get some. Old Hickory makes a buttermilk cornbread that is cooked more like a pancake than the standard corn muffin you often see, but it works! And it tastes incredibly good – fluffy and rich! Our only complaint – they served it with whipped margarine instead of real butter. (Seriously, restaurants, provide real butter!)
We are so sorry that we cannot remember our server’s name – she was wonderful! She was very friendly and happily gave suggestions on the menu, plus she was fast and efficient.
Our total bill, including tax and tip, was $36.00. This left both of us incredibly full with plenty of leftovers – some for us AND Knox!
The Doggy Bag, By Knox
Kelley, if only I could go back to our first meeting and not try to bite your face off, I would. Your recommendation for Mommy & Scott to visit Old Hickory shows you’re worthy of licks & cuddles instead of snarls & snaps. Mea culpa.
Old Hickory knows how to barbeque some tasty meat! Scott & Mommy were nice enough to save me a bite of all the types of meat AND some mac-n-cheese and onion ring breading. Scott was even willing to part with a bite of cornbread for me to try! Clearly my humans LOVE me.
They were also smart enough to leave out any vegetables – dogs don’t fool with that nonsense when we can help it!