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Taking food home during a road trip is never the same as eating the product hot and fresh at the restaurant. We’ve done it several times, but it is just not the same and not really fair to the restaurant, but it’s what we all have to do sometimes.
I knew at some point I would get back to sit down and have a meal, and today was the day.
Camden’s team had been playing in a week-long tournament in Myrtle Beach and we had been driving back and forth each day. Today, Heather had to go to Savannah for her dad’s birthday, Camden was staying at Ocean Lakes with a teammate, and I found myself nearing Hog Heaven as my stomach insisted it was time for a refill.
I pulled in just before noon and the place was sparsely populated.
You enter the front door to find a room full of merchandise (shirts and sauces, primarily) and a counter where you can pick up take out, and if you’re having the buffet, where you will pay later.
Through a door straight ahead, you immediately see the buffet surrounded by a dining area.
I was unsure of what to do at first as there was not hostess or anyone directing me. After looking around a bit, I found a table and sat. Shortly, one of the two waitresses on duty stopped by and took my drink order and asked if I was having the buffet.
I was, of course.
Honestly, I had no intention of writing this review (that’s why there are no photos). No one was with me and I always like to include Heather and Camden’s opinions in the reviews. We’re a team; this isn’t a solo show.
Also, I had heard that the BBQ is fine, but the fried chicken is excellent, and I really stopped in for the chicken, believe it or not….but it made no sense not to try the BBQ since it was right there. And so this review.
I filled my first plate with chicken, bbq, hash/rice, and collards. The second plate included a small bit of bbq and their stewed tomatoes over rice. I finished with a sampling of their banana pudding.
First, the barbecue.
The pork is pulled and not chopped, which is good. Like last time, there is a clear smokey flavor that permeates the meat, but is not overpowering.
The BBQ is pre-sauced with a vinegar-pepper based sauce, but it is subtle and wasn’t so strong that you couldn’t have used the sauces provided on each table. Also, it did not make the BBQ mushy. I found the texture fine and the pork was not overcooked.
Overall, I found the BBQ to be fine. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad. It was perfectly good buffet bbq.
The chicken was, in fact, very good. I rummaged about the bin for a breast when I was at the buffet. It is easy to dry out a chicken breast, but my piece was not. I wouldn’t call it juicy, but it was certainly moist and tasty. The outside was a nice, crispy brown and well seasoned.
In my one sample, I would say that, in fact, the chicken is on a higher level than the BBQ, but both are good.
Many of the sides, on the other hand, were mediocre.
The hash was fine. It is reddish-orange in color and slightly sweet. Nothing about it really stands out some 12 hours later, but it will not detract from your plate. The rice was, of course, the “industrial rice” that you find on many buffets and school lunch trays. It resembles “real” rice enough to serve the purpose, but really lacks any palatable clue to its rich heritage. That said, I cannot fault them too much for serving it. It is a buffet and you can’t really screw up that kind of rice.
The collards were similar to Bessinger’s in that they were salty, not sweet. Also, like Bessinger’s, I found them to be a bit stem-heavy in the mix. I don’t mind stems in my collards, generally speaking, but it was just something I noticed. In the end, I finished my serving, but they were just ok.
The stewed tomatoes tasted like they had simply been emptied from the can, heated on the stove and moved to the buffet. They were rather whole pieces, not broken down or softened much by the cooking process. There also wasn’t much flavor to them. I love stewed tomatoes. They can be divine, but these…not so much.
The banana pudding I had to try. If you’ve read our reviews enough, you know we are very picky about our banana pudding, mainly because Heather’s is so good. Most places serve bad to mediocre banana pudding. Hog Heaven’s is not great, but it is not bad either.
First, it is not simply Jello pudding, but it is not a homemade custard either, I don’t think. Frankly, I would guess it is a boxed pudding mixed with whipped cream. This elevates the product above many others. The bananas in mine were plentiful but under-ripe, which made them less than ideal. Overall, I found the banana pudding to be better than at most buffets.
Just a heads up for those trying Hog Heaven for the first time: When you are done with your meal, no one is going to bring you a bill.
I sat at the table for a good 5-10 minutes after I was done wondering if the waitress would be bringing my bill. She never did. After a while, I sort of discerned that you don’t get one. You simply go back into the first room where the cashier is and let her know that you had a buffet with a drink and she rings you up right there. My total was around $12, I think.
I also wasn’t sure about tipping and am still not. I left a $5 bill on the table, just in case.
I am glad I had the opportunity to stop in at Hog Heaven. It is a place I had wondered about for a long while. In my experience, the meats are better than the sides, and the fried chicken is, in fact, the star of the show.
Every day 11:30am – 9pm
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