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Southern New England BBQ

The Hen House BBQ - Southington, CT


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The Hen House BBQ - Southington, CT

JohnF | Sep 14, 2001 12:19 PM

Now here's a supremely unattractive storefront "Q" in a hi-vacancy strip mall in Connecticut's formerly industrial heartland that's worth a trip. It also might be the only barbeque in America where most of the menu is deep fried and none of it properly barbequed. Yet behind the cluttered counter is an unusual locally fabricated gas-fired upright grilling device in which chickens and enormous slabs of ribs slowly turn on precision chain-driven spits. Ignore the fried foods, and check out the amazing and huge ribs and (technically) roasted chickens slathered with a home-brewed spicy and sweet tomato-based sauce. Look carefully and there is a "barbeque pork sandwich" which is about as close to a pulled pork burnt tips sandwich you'll find in these parts. Just remember that this is Connecticut, and don't get alarmed when you see the pulled pork being warmed up on the grill before serving. It's not exactly what Chris Schlesinger would do, but it's not at all bad. I didn't try anything from the extensive "buffalo-style" chicken section of the menu because I never understood the concept of buffalo-style anything other than bison. There doesn't seem to be any wood-fired cooking or smoking going on here, but the chicken, ribs and pork are good. The Hen House has a full selection of soft drinks. Be sure to read the newspaper article on the wall about how the owner heroically nabbed a burglar who gained access by smashing the plate glass front door. The owner pursued the robber in a high-speed foot chase. Upon catching the crook, he detained him in the back room of the restaurant until the police (both of them) arrived. "He didn't want to stay in there, but I made him." The perp was subsequently charged with sixth degree larceny. Despite the crime wave, this is not North Carolina. Don't forget that and don't compare the food to a southern barbeque. Just eat it for what is it. The Hen House is located on Main Street, which I think is also Route 10, about a block from the public library in what must have been the once vibrant center of town. Get off I-84 eastbound at exit 30 and follow it into Southington. The decrepit shopping center, whose anchor is a take-out Chinese restaurant, will be on your left in about a mile, just past the school. Please let us know if you who can figure out how this place can support a staff of 5 (all clad in red Hen House tee-shirts).

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