Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Cathead's BBQ

I'm not really one for BBQ, since I don't really like pork or chicken, and they are usually the focus at BBQ joints.  Yet, I went to Cathead's BBQ.  Why?  Well, not for the actual meat, obviously.  But there is a part of BBQ that I absolutely love: the sides!  Cornbread or biscuits, potato salad and cole slaw, baked beans, mac and cheese ... I love them all.  I'll always eagerly tag along to get BBQ, even though I never intend to really eat the main attraction.

A friend has recommended Cathead BBQ a number of times, and their menu, while it features all main dishes I wasn't interested in, also includes a ton of amazing sounding sides.  All the classics, but amped up a bit.  The biscuits come either in mini form, or "as big as a cat’s head", served with honey butter and pepper jelly.  The potato salad has dandelion greens added.  The mac and cheese has pimento for a bit of kick.  People rave about the collard greens, and they are just greens!  And Cathead has not one, but two types of coleslaw, something I'd been really into, since trying out the versions from Fresh Express, of all things.

For my first visit, I swung by just to get a side of slaw to bring home to have with a picnic themed dinner I was planning.  I didn't spend much time inside, but it was a very casual, comfortable feeling place.  Everyone orders at the register in the front, seats themselves, and orders came up on the counter when ready, your named called out.  There were a variety of tables options inside, and a few picnic tables outside as well.  Super casual, so my ordering takeout was totally acceptable, I wasn't sure how showing up just to get some slaw would go over, but it was no problem.

Service was incredibly friendly.  On my first visit, when I asked about the difference in the two slaws, one called "mustard" and one called "habanaro", I was immediately told that one was mayo based, and the other vinegar, but that I should just try them both.  Moments later, little cups of each were held out to me.  The person ordering after me asked if the pimento mac and cheese was spicy, and again, in moments, a sample was provided.  Wonderful service!

I returned several more times to pick up sides to take home to complete other meals I was planning, and was fairly impressed, but I don't really think I'll return further.  That said, I fully recognize that I didn't actually have their BBQ, which is sorta the whole point, so I can't really judge..
Mustard Slaw.  $4.
As I mentioned, on the first visit, I tried both the habanero and the mustard slaws before deciding which to order.  The habanaro was vinegar based, super fresh, the cabbage incredibly crispy, and it had a bit of heat from the habanaro.  I really liked it, but I am much more of a fan of creamy coleslaw, so I went for the mustard slaw instead.

I was intrigued by the idea of mustard slaw.  I don't think I've really had mustard in slaw before, but Cathead is known for their sauces, vinegars, and mustards, so, it makes sense that they would feature it in the slaw (you can buy their sauces in bulk too, more on them later).  The dressing for this slaw was thus both mustard and mayo based, although not super creamy.

Like the habanaro slaw, the cabbage was incredibly crisp, all green cabbage.  There was also shredded carrot and red pepper in the mix.  All fresh and crisp, the slaw clearly hadn't been sitting around for ages and was freshly made.  Points for this, as soggy slaw is sad slaw.

The mustard slaw is the less spicy choice between the slaws, but it still packed a punch.  Without something like mac and cheese, or I guess ribs, to go alongside, it was actually a bit too spicy for me.

The mustard did add a zing, but I think I prefer standard mayo based coleslaw.  The slaw was all perfectly executed, but just not my style.

All sides are $4 for a side portion, which is quite a bit of coleslaw, it easily could be 3 small servings alongside a meal.  I'm glad I tried mustard slaw, but I wouldn't get again.
Habanero Slaw.  $4.
On my next visit, I decided to get the Habanero Slaw, since I didn't care for the mustard one very much.  It was made with red cabbage rather than green, but had the same shredded carrot and red pepper.  It was the vinegar based option, rather than mayonnaise.

The veggies were crisp, and it had some serious heat, but I really am just not a vinegar slaw type.  I brought it home to Ojan who was also sad that it wasn't mayo based, so we added our own mayo to it.  Problem solved, except, it was still too spicy for Ojan.

If you like spicy vinegar slaw though, go for it, it was clearly a good product, just not for me.
Pimento Mac & Cheese.  $4.
On my next visit, I again wanted to just pick up a side dish, this time to go along with the sausages I had ready to grill from Rosamunde.  I thought potato salad would be a good fit, so I asked about the  Dandelion Green Potato Salad.  I was told that it was German style (boo), but that it did contain mayo (yay).  A sample was immediately presented the moment I inquired about it, without my asking specifically to try it.  I'm glad it was, because I didn't end up liking it.  I certainly prefer even more creamy, mayo-laden, American styles.  This was tangy German style, with harsh red onion, and mushy potatoes.  I prefer my potatoes a bit al dente in my potato salad.  I did like the mustard greens in it though, a fun southern twist.  But not my style of potato salad overall.

So I took things an entirely different route, and picked the mac and cheese.  I didn't ask to try the mac and cheese, or ask about how spicy it was, but just went for it.  I'm sure I could have asked for a taste, but I decided not to, not wanting to be extra work when I was just picking up a single side.  I wish I had.

The mac and cheese, like all of the sides, is pre-made, sitting hot in a steam table behind the counter.  It wasn't very creamy.  Nor very cheesy really.  The pasta was a bit mushy.  Just overall, quite unremarkable.  The pimento did add a fun kick though.

$4 for a reasonable sized size was fine, but I wouldn't get this again.
BBQ Baked Beans.  $4.
And finally, I had to try the BBQ baked beans.  They were served warm, out of the steam table like the mac.

The beans were loaded up with lots of caramelized onion.  The sauce had a deep molasses flavor, and the right ratio of sauce to beans, not too dry, not to runny.  The beans were tiny bit mushy but not too bad.  I don't really like beans in general, and got these mostly for Ojan, but I did appreciate the flavor of the sauce.

Very good for baked beans, due to the excellent sauce and plentiful onions.
Condiments!
So, speaking of sauces.

Cathead's BBQ is known for their sauces, and on one visit, a set was included in my bag, when I mentioned I was pairing the mac and cheese with some sausages.  How thoughtful!  I was excited to try them, since I knew they are part of Cathead's fame.

My containers were (from left to right): mustard, BBQ sauce, pickled veggies, and habanero hot sauce.

The mustard, which I had in the mustard slaw, is described as "a blend of mustard, black pepper, and cider vinegar."

This was a thin style mustard, far thinner than any mustard I've had before, not really appropriate for spreading on things like hot dogs or sausages, but makes sense for use with bbq.  The pepper was particularly strong.

The BBQ sauce is described as "ketchup based sauce, mixed with brown sugar, molasses, and cider vinegar. This sauce is your 'put it anything you want bbq sauce on' sauce."

The brown sugar and molasses were quite obvious in it, certainly a sweet style bbq sauce.  It did have some good additional spicing however, a bit smokey even?  Not just sweet.  I enjoyed it with some cornbread, and if I liked chicken, I actually think it would be perfect for chicken.

The pickled veggies included carrots, cauliflower, red peppers, and onions.  Basic vinegar pickle style, crunchy, and tangy.  I'm sure they go great with bbq.

The habanero hot sauce was in the other slaw I tried, described as "a well balanced spicy and flavorful hot sauce".  When I had it in the slaw, it was obviously in a small quantity.  When I generously dipped a pretzel into this, I had no idea what I was getting into.

Holy crap it was spicy.  Punch-you-in-the-face spicy, but, once I got over the initial shock, I actually kinda liked it.  It didn't linger in a horrible way, just in a pleasantly spicy way.
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