Nancy and I went back to the Original Golden Rule in Irondale on our last trip to Birmingham. There has been a major change. When you order the pork, it is chopped much finer than it was before. Instead of chunks they have, well, shreds.
Here’s my plate:
The change to the fine chop is not good. The shreds dry out quickly unless you drench them in barbecue sauce, and frankly, the Golden Rule sauce isn’t the sort of sauce you want to drown your pork in. It is well-spiced, but too thick and tomatoey. It’s great on their very good fries, but it can drown the taste of the meat if used injudiciously. And that’s a terrible thing to do to meat as good as the Golden Rule’s. So order it sliced, or see if they’ll do a rough chop for you. Or take a bottle of Ollie’s barbecue sauce with you and order it with no sauce (or sauce on the side if you’re getting fries). Or buy a butt and take it home. They really do a good job on the pork there.
The change hasn’t affected business. The place stays busy on site and with a great carry-out volume. They still have lots of pictures of Bear Bryant and Shug Jordan, the sign of a good barbecue place in Alabama. And everything else was good. The green beans were excellent, and the potato salad was also good. The potatoes were chopped very fine, but not overcooked and mushy. Spring onion and olives were good additions. The fried okra was ok — I much prefer corn meal on fried okra — and I thought the cole slaw, dressed with oil and vinegar, was fine. Nancy, the cole slaw expert, prefers slaw with some mayonnaise.
We had dessert. The banana pudding was good, but all pudding and no banana slices in our serving. I tried the coconut pie. I often try coconut pie. Ollie’s used to have the Platonic ideal of coconut pie, and I have searched the country for something as good. The Golden Rule version is light with a good coconut flavor, but it can’t hold a candle to Ollie’s. The forlorn search continues.
And while you’re at it, click “follow” on our front page to receive blog posts in your email box. Or bookmark us and check in from time to time. If you’re planning a trip, you can “Search” the name of the city, state, or country for good restaurants (in Europe, usually close to sites, like the Louvre or the Van Gogh Museum, that you’ll want to visit in any event). Comments, questions, and suggestions of places to eat or stories to cover are very welcome. And check out our Instagram page, johntannerbbq.