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The Pottery Grill

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When I met Ron Hamner, he was the technician at the Center for Public TV. Those were the days when equipment was mechanical and expensive, so a lot of repair and maintenance was required. Ron kept the whole place running and was as smart as they come.

Ron was also 100% American blue collar. He was retired Air Force, drove a late ‘70s model van with a bubble window in the back, and drank his coffee black. With him, it was no frills. He loved simple pleasures, like watching movies at home with his wife.  All of which explains why he loved The Pottery Grill barbecue. If Pottery was a person, its embodiment would be Ron Hamner.

The Pottery Grill was a frequent caterer of Alabama athletics, particularly basketball and gymnastics. More times than not they were the go-to choice for big events, which means we had them a lot. That made Ron giddy. Personally, my inexperience prevented me from relishing the opportunity. Only a fool would shrug at free barbecue, and while I was grateful, I didn’t fully appreciate the opportunity I had.

I went a couple of decades between my last Pottery meal and the subsequent one. Building content for The Alabama Barbecue Chase brought me back, but more from a sense of duty than anticipation. Reminded of all those Jumbotron meals, on my first trip back I had smoked sausage that was covered in barbecue sauce. Delicious! Amazing! How had I never heard of this before?

My next visit, which was only a few months later, had me craving their smoked sausage, but I felt an obligation to get the chopped pork so I could provide a review comparable to the standard I’d set.  Let me ask this. Have you ever found something you didn’t realize you’d lost? There’s a bit of wonder and an energy that zips through your faculties, jolting your consciousness and bringing awareness to what you’re feeling. That moment reconnected me to The Pottery Grill, and I realized I had undervalued them all those years ago.

The pork at Pottery is served chopped and covered in warm sauce. The smell immediately hits you. This is honest to goodness pit-smoked barbecue. When that warm sauce comes out on that smoky pork that’s hot off the pit, it creates an aroma that’s impossible to resist. The presentation makes it tidy and easy to drive a fork-full for every bite. It’s a good chew with the mix of textures adding to the allure. Soft insides and crispy bark, all chopped and blended together, make for a hardy bite that keeps your taste buds bouncing. In a way, every bite is different, but the flavor remains consistent, if that makes sense.

The sauce itself is brown in color with a mild flavor that tingles with some finishing spice. When it’s warm and served over that sausage and pork, it is one mighty bite! The baked beans were soft, loaded with pork, and with a subtle flavor. The mac n cheese was a firm, ridged macaroni noodle in a thin white cheese sauce. I love al dente pasta and the peppery seasoning made it a delicious contrast against the rest of the plate.

If you love smokey flavors, this is the joint for you. Simple décor, soft country music in the background, and owners that work in the restaurant and care about their guests. The day I stopped at Pottery, it was raining when I walked in. When I left, the sun was shining. Can The Pottery Grill change the weather? No, but it can brighten your day.

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