Southern Soul: Bike Ride Makes Room for Infamous BBQ
I mentioned in a previous post that I was significantly full – that writing about the food was something I wanted to wait on – yet now I’m realizing that moment may never come so long as I’m still on the island (St. Simons). There are so many incredible food choices here, from seafood boils to barbecue, and my mind and body are engaged in a constant war – the latter at times feeling unable to stomach the opportunity.
I had helped prepare the shrimp and grits welcome dinner and feasted on the other bounties of the sea the next day at lunch, and that night I was to eat at Southern Soul BBQ – nationally recognized and often featured in the media (Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, for example).
I’ve always found that the solution to a food-related self-imposed guilt trip is exercise, and after we returned from golfing with gators we walked up the street from the King and Prince to Ocean Motion Surf Company to rent some bikes.
St. Simons has over twenty miles of biking trails and limited traffic on most streets, making it a great place to hop on a beach cruiser and explore. The best part for me was riding underneath the oak trees that often canopy the quiet streets, looking up and seeing the Spanish moss draped over the branches. I took it easy at times and picked up the pace at others. The goal was to relax and enjoy the peacefulness of St. Simons, however I also wanted to earn my dinner that night.
Mentally and physically recharged, we made the five-minute drive to Southern Soul from the King and Prince, and as we approached I could see the wood stacked next to the smoker out in front of the restaurant, the people sitting at picnic tables under the large overhang (the building was once an old gas station).
Southern Soul cooks over locally gathered seasoned (aged) oak, nothing else. I really like that sort of approach – it adds a truly unique aspect to the cooking process (not to mention the taste). I ordered the Southern Sampler: Ribs, pulled pork, stew, and collard greens ($15). I threw in a local brew, the Georgia SweetWater 420, and I grabbed a spot outside at one of the tables. There’s a bar and a few tables inside, but I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want to post up outside where you can see and smell the smoke. It was turning to twilight and the stars were coming out, and it was a very warm evening with a nice breeze that fluttered the napkins.
When they brought the food out I immediately noticed that they don’t drown you with sauce – they actually don’t put on any at all (you add it yourself at the table). I think this is one of the signs of good barbecue, a focus on the flavors of the meat rather than a spotlight on the sauce.
An even better sign is when you taste it and it doesn’t need any. I sampled some of both the sweet and the spicy, but I never felt like I needed to glob it on. As you have probably experienced, that is not always the case, and you have to appreciate it when you find yourself at a place legitimate enough to understand this concept.
Looking at the photo still makes my mouth water. I said this at the table and I have to add it here: That stew might have been the best I’ve ever had in my life. Light and tomato based with chunks of pork, it was a perfect complement to the stacks of meat (it is a must try when you visit).
Overall: An amazing backyard feel stationed on the side of the road on a kicked-back island. I’m really not sure how someone could drive by and not do a double-take, not pull an immediate U-turn given the character it displays.
I would highly recommend getting that exercise in beforehand. The portions are large, and you will definitely charge through all of it.