Side trip to New Orleans and The Shed

A dear friend of ours from our college days at UMBC moved to New Orleans many years ago and got married, and we have not seen her in years. Since we were relatively close by, we decided to make a day trip, stay the night, and come back the next day. And of course, we hoped to get some great food while we were there (and perhaps even on the way).

As we were driving to New Orleans, we anticipated stopping in Mobile to get some BBQ, but while Amy was searching the web for places to go, she realized that The Shed in Ocean Springs, MS, was right on our way.  This place has been featured on nearly every TV channel and program devoted to food, as their owners are true masters of promotion – they even got their own reality TV show!  So I was dubious whether this place would live up to its hype.

They're famous, but are they any good?

They’re famous, but are they any good?

The first thing you notice as you’re walking up to the joint from the gravel parking lot is that it really is a shed.  It appears to be made almost entirely of corrugated aluminum roofing sheets over a really simple frame structure.

The Shed's down-home entrance

The Shed’s down-home entrance

Some of The Shed's quirky outdoor decor

Some of The Shed’s quirky outdoor decor

You mosey up to the bar in front, and place your order.  They have a huge selection of beers, including many locally-brewed specialties.  They take your name, and then you take your drinks and seat yourself at one of the picnic tables setup in the shed.  The flooring is the same gravel in the parking lot, so you really feel like you’re just hanging out in someone’s back yard BBQ shed.  It was raining pretty hard when we first visited, adding to the ambience.  It was really freakin cool, to be honest.  They have tons of kitsch on the walls, but it doesn’t feel artificial or contrived, it feels like you’re hanging out at your Uncle Joe’s place – you know, the crazy uncle who goes to the dump and brings stuff home and never throws anything away?

In what seems like less than two minutes, your name is called, and someone brings your food on these military-style metal trays.  We had ordered the Sampler Platter, with all of their meats (baby back ribs, spare ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken, and sausage) and three sides (we got collards, beans, and mac salad).  We also got a couple of locally brewed stouts, which were rich, chocolatey, and delicious.  I just wish I had written down the name of the brew!

The Shed sampler platter - all six of their meats, with two sides, served on a military-style metal tray.

The Shed sampler platter – all six of their meats, with two sides, served on a military-style metal tray.

So did they live up to the hype?  Was the BBQ any good?

In short, it was fantastic!  The brisket was probably the juiciest and most tender brisket we’ve had so far this trip, as was the pulled pork.  Simply delicious.  The ribs were (from a competition BBQ standard) overcooked, as the meat fell off the bone (I actually prefer my ribs this tender, even if BBQ judges don’t), and in fact, as Amy pointed out, even the bone was edible.  But the ribs were delicious.  The chicken was much the same – tender and surprisingly juicy, with good flavor.  But I think the sausage might have been my favorite, as good as the pork, ribs, and brisket were.  It had a nice smoke and a bit of spiciness, and was really tasty.

We had asked for the sauce on the side, and when we heard someone next to us ask for a side of the spicy sauce (which we didn’t know about), we asked for that as well.  I particularly liked the spicy sauce, which had a nice front of the mouth molasses sweetness with a back of the throat kick.

The mac salad was delicious, the collards were very good, and the beans were pretty tasty as well.  All in all, we were really impressed, and pleased to find yet another BBQ joint that (like Big Bob Gibson’s) lives up to its hype and reputation.

We were so pleased that after we visited New Orleans, we came back again on our way home!  This time it was Sunday afternoon, and they had free live music as well.  The service wasn’t quite as lightning fast, as it might have taken 3 minutes to get our food this time, LOL.  I got the sausage sandwich with mac and cheese (very creamy) and the mac salad again, which I really love.  Amy got the pulled pork sandwich, with potato salad and the most incredibly delicious sweet potato casserole!  OMG, that sweet potato casserole was utterly fantastic!  You know the mashed sweet potatoes your grandma serves every Thanksgiving or Christmas, with the brown sugar and crumbly topping?  Yeah, this kicked it’s ass, and would truly make you slap yo grandma for making such lame sweet potatoes.  Consider yourself schooled, grandma!  Go to The Shed and taste what sweet potato casserole is supposed to taste like!

Oh, and we did go to New Orleans, and stayed at the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter, and our friends took us on a dive bar-hop through the non-touristy places of the French Quarter.  We had a blast hanging out with our friends and getting a more local feel of this great city.

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