Henri Hotts BBQ
Anyone been to this place in the hinterlands of South Jersey. I had heard that it is the real deal and Craig Laban from the Philadelphia Inquirer confirms with an excellent review. 2 bells (stars) is a great review for Laban, IMO one of the best food reviewers around.
I feel a road trip coming on :)
The funny thing about Henri's Hotts is that we have driven by there twice in the past few months (most recently last Sunday) on our way to and from Storybook Land. We saw the plume of smoke and the smoker in the parking lot and wondered if it was the "real deal". Apparently it is and we will definitely have to stop there the next time we are in the area.
We also discovered another little roadside place not far from Henri's. El Patio restaurant is 4 miles south on the Black Horse Pike. We stopped there for breakfast last Sunday and were very glad we did. When a place has "Traditional Eats" listed on the menu you know you are in the right place. My wife had "Joe's Country #1 Special" which consisted of eggs, Italian sausage (sweet, hot, or mixed), potatoes, green peppers, and onions all scrambled together and topped with cheese. Very tasty (and filling!).
But the best part of our breakfast happened a few minutes after we sat down. As we were looking over the menu, a family walks in the door. Their daughter chooses that moment to throw up all over the floor. The mom hustles her out the door, and the dad apologizes profusely to the staff as they start cleaning up. The mom comes back in with the daughter after a few minutes and a guy sitting at a nearby table (a regular customer, I assume) casually says to her, "People usually throw up AFTER they eat here". Classic!
Henri Hotts is only about 10-15 minutes from my house, and we have eaten there several times. The food is good, although they favor a spicy barbeque sauce, and I prefer one that is slightly sweet. The meats were very tender and juicy though, with a good bark.
We went a couple weekends ago for the Sunday AYCE buffet - not because we wanted to overeat, but so we could sample a little bit of everything. Pork: yum. BBQ chicken: yum. Both were nice and smokey, and we enjoyed the sauces. We didn't try the roast turkey (typical Thanksgiving fare, at least it looked like it) or meatloaf, but our 2-year-old liked the meatloaf. Sides were good too; we especially liked the mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and corn pudding/spoon bread. Service was a bit slow, but that's not unexpected given that we were there at the lunchtime rush.
I'm a little surprised about the lack of effusive love for this place. I stopped there on the way to the shore last summer (it's really not far off the AC Expressway) on the strength of LaBan's review and it did not disappoint. The only bummer was that they were out of the fried chicken, the main thing we were heading there for, so we had to settle for the wings, which isn't a proper southern substitute. Everything else was stellar, though--the ribs, the cornbread, and the potato salad were all as good as I've had north of the Mason-Dixon, and at regular greasy spoon prices. Also, the proprietor was very friendly and involved in running his restaurant, which is always a bonus. I will definitely make it back there this year to get the fried chicken. It's a legit gem for the Philadelphia area.