Sunday, July 6, 2014

Was it Bo knows or was it Bono's?



I do so enjoy a road trip.  It doesn't matter to where, just so long as I am on the open road and get to maybe see a sight I haven't seen before.  Granted, I have seen some stuff on the open road that shouldn't be done on the open road.  I mean seriously people, GET A ROOM!  It's not even safe for crying out loud.  Back to the positives of a road trip.  I see it as a chance to meet new people, see neat places, and maybe if I'm a good little boy, my lens-corrected eye will spy a yet previously unsampled BBQ spot.  On that note, so I was on my way to a week-long conference in America's very expensive playground, AKA Orlando, when a friend of mine and I decided to get together for lunch.  A sidebar about the hotel in Orlando:  The hotel in Orlando that was booked for me was very nice which translated into very expensive.  I was charged $18.00 per day for the privilege of parking at the hotel.  I was also charged a $20.00 resort fee which covered internet and one, yes one, bottle of $7.00 water that looked like I could have gotten a case of them from a certain big-box store for about $3.00.  I actually had a little bird come right up to me and hang out with me for a bit.  I half expected to see a fee on my bill for "friendly fowl interaction:  $20.00".  I'm not kidding.  I digress of course and back to my luncheon.  So my friend Kenny has been a dear friend of mine since our time together at the Capstone, and he is now a husband to a very nice lady and father to two adorable little ladies.  He also works for the University of Florida.  Anyway, getting off the Interstate of Death in Gainesville, AKA I-75, I quickly found Bono's BBQ.  How fortunate the bathroom was near the entrance since I was certain I was going to die no less than five times on I-75 or experience my own version of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and needed a bit of freshening up.  No, Bono's BBQ has nothing to do with the bespectacled lead singer of the wildly popular Irish music group U2......at least I don't think so, and it is a chain restaurant.  Typically, I don't write about chain restaurants, so I may be breaking my own rule, but since its my blog, I guess it's OK.  No, there was no slamming screen door, nor was there a dog sleeping on the porch, but what the heck.  I'm a rebel.  The outside looked like an older diner complete with resplendent and highly polished chrome banding around the top which was pretty neat.  Despite the orange and blue posts around the porch, it was a pretty nice looking place (this is home of the University of Florida after all.  At least they are in the SEC). Upon entering this fine establishment, I was met with the most heavenly smell of open-pit BBQ.  To my very happy surprise, I saw the meat getting smoked over an open pit.  Good looking stuff if I'm honest.  They even had a sign that said something to the effect of not trusting any BBQ that comes off a pit you can't see.  Did I mention the smell was out of this world?   Pretty sure I did but it is worth mentioning again.  My friend Kenny stated Bono's has a following on Facebook and in Gainesville.  I can see why.  Being the sampling type of guy I am and needing to increase my blood sugar so I could have cat-like reflexes on I-75, I decided to order the large, three-meat combo with a side of mac-n-cheese and Brunswick stew.  The very nice waitress named Emily quickly and politely took my order and scurried off to fill my plate with what I hoped would be as good as U2's album "The Joshua Tree."  The three meats ordered were brisket (my personal favorite BBQ meat), pulled pork, and sausage.  While waiting, I decided to sample the four sauces that were available.  Bono's had two mustard-based sauces and two others with one of those being a sweet sauce.  I have limited experience with mustard-based sauces, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I may even have to try to create my own.  Why not, but in fairness and to quote U2, "I Still Haven't Found What I What I'm Looking For" when it comes to my own original sauce.  So there is that.  When I get my order, I see that I was given plenty of meat to sample.  The brisket had a nice bark and the hickory sauce complimented it well.  I should have specified I wanted brisket from the wet end but forgot.  The brisket was pretty good with a nice mild smokey flavor.  The pulled pork had a nice color and good flavor.  You could tell it had been kissed by the sweet smoke.  The sweet mustard-based sauce worked well with it.  The sausage was sans sauce and tasted like most other sausages you can buy commercially.  Not bad and had a good taste to it.  I didn't ask if they make their own sausages or not.  I would like to know if they are made for them as I would like to know where to get some.  The mac-n-cheese was nothing to rave about but it was good and tasted like a lot of other mac-n-cheeses I have had.  The brunswick stew had a lot of meat in it which was nice.  Most brunswick stews tend to have minimal amounts of chunked BBQ meat.  The flavor didn't have the tang I'm used to in my part of the woods, but still it too was pretty good.  I wasn't disappointed I ordered it.  Of course there was the obligatory garlic Texas toast which didn't detract.  The coup de grace was the banana pudding.  I liked it.  It was a cold banana pudding with whipped cream.  I didn't hold it against them since it tasted good.  This is the south where we do hot banana  pudding with meringue....at least, that's how my Grandmother Stone did it which means that's how all the world should do it.  All in all, the price was more than fair for the amount of food I got.  The service was very good as the host, a guy whose name I didn't get, and our very nice waitress Emily made sure we were taken good care of.  Would I recommend Bono's?   Sure.  Why not?  The smell is great, the service is just as great, and the BBQ was good too.  I wonder if there is BBQ in Ireland, home of the band U2?  Maybe if U2 plays Gainesville, Bono will come to eat at Bono's.  I'd pay to see it.  You can go to Bono's website at www.bonosbarbq.com to see their menu and list of locations if you are so inclined.  If you get a chance, stop by and tell Emily hello.  Y'all take care and Riley says hello.  So from the road, this is Jeff signing off.  Now if you will excuse me, I have to go and sell a kidney to pay for the hotel and 'friendly fowl interaction fee'.  Stay tuned as Team Grandpa's Pride gets tuned up for the 2nd Annual BBQ and Blues Festival in Bainbridge, GA.