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B&K Bar-B-Q

Stop for





If you’ve ever driven by the peach water tower off I-65, you’ve passed with a half mile of B&K. For years I’d taken notice of this little roadside joint whenever I went to Clanton. There was never much to it, including the hand-painted sign that leaned against a tree near the street. The colors on the board and building were bold, which was hard to ignore. It seemed like I always passed by when it wasn’t mealtime. Finally, I made it a destination when I had to exchange some gear with a coworker from our Montgomery office. We met at B&K and experienced some unusual company.

The inside of the restaurant is very small. There are only two tables and usually the family running the joint is using them. So after ordering inside at the counter, we found a seat at a picnic table on the covered patio. It’s since been screened in, but at the time it was wide open. While we were enjoying our sandwiches, the neighbor’s chickens headed our way and made themselves at home in the shade of the patio. They were well behaved, but it was the first time I’ve had lunch with chicken as company rather than the entrée.

On my subsequent visit as “research” for this review, I accepted a seat at an inside table. It was a cold, breezy day and I later realized it was the owner that gave up his seat for me. His family members, who were also employees, sat at the table across the room from me and we talked about things we had in common, mostly from making our homes in small towns. Everyone was so kind and I felt right at home. You could tell the customers felt that way too, as the steady flow of take-out patrons were all greeted in a way that revealed they were regulars. That sense of community is what I love about small towns, and while my visit wasn’t initiated to make friends, I left feeling like one.

From the front counter, the view into the kitchen provides clues of what’s to come. The far wall holds a giant brick pit with heavy, swinging steel doors. This thing looks like it’s been around forever and houses all the universe’s barbecue secrets. It’s picture perfect and furthered my anticipation, which was rewarded.

The pork had a wonderful pink color and included a crunchy bark, clearly a result of classic smoking. It was pulled then finely chopped with sauce generously ladled across the top. The sauce was a tomato base with a gentle flavor that allowed the natural, smoky taste of the meat to still come through. I find this type of preparation fun and easy to eat. Every bite can be perfectly portioned and fits neatly on the fork. It’s a festival of texture and flavor that is really satisfying, and they give you tons of it. This is the only time I’ve ever taken barbecue home because of portion size. That just meant I had some to enjoy later. I added slaw and baked beans to my plate, both of which delivered. The slaw was a mix of finely diced cabbage, carrots and onion in a mayo base. The onion gave it a sharpness that contrasted well against the sauce’s mellow flavors. The baked beans were warm, thick and comforting. They were generously seasoned with onion and, I believe, Worcestershire. I feel like they also blended in some barbecue sauce which tied all the flavors together.

Lots of places make everything by hand, but there’s something about B&K that brings this sense of home forward. Does love have a flavor?  I don’t know. Can nostalgia affect the way food tastes? What about the way you’re treated? Does food quality improve with the quality of the people that prepare and serve it? I don’t know, but B&K had all the flavor and feel of a fine family reunion…without all the crazy relatives.

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