We all have family in Florida. Most of the time they are either elderly, psychotic, or both. Not that I am throwing stones. I’d move down there in a second if I could earn more than 8 dollars an hour doing anything but slinging meth or backyard wrestling. Florida is warm, located in the Dixieland and filled with crazy people that love to drink. What’s not to like?
Being familiar with Florida, I had heard of Sonny’s many times before I finally had a chance to dine there while on a work trip to MLB Spring Training. The producer of my radio show is an insufferable boob that attended the University of Florida. He’s a balding man with a lisp, yet somehow thinks that even though he’s 37 years old, he is still right there in Gainesville. On the plane ride down, this man-child had been yapping all our ears off, lauding the fare at Sonny’s. I’m a man that doesn’t need too many reasons to try a new BBQ joint, so we agreed to give it a go.
As luck would have it, our hotel was directly across the street from the restaurant’s Melbourne location. One disclaimer; my producer and I share nothing in common and most things he has told me are amazing (European soccer, knee socks, bad reality tv)? They draw my ire. Come to think of it, I may hate him. So naturally I went into this whole thing with a certain amount of understandable trepidation.
Chain restaurant barbecue is an odd thing. Purists detest it. Rubes embrace it. We here at Beer & Pig are somewhere in the middle. If it once had parents and is slathered in sauce, we will give it a shot. That’s our motto. Well, that and “We don’t hire Irish.” With that known, it should also be stated that we don’t stand on ceremony. If the pork is tasty, we will tell you. No posturing will be found in the context of these pages. Hit the jump and read about the eats.
Sonny’s appearance is straight forward. There is a small bar to the left when you walk in and a large dining area. Most of the waitresses are very attractive girls that didn’t seem to judge the portly on their desire to inhale meat. Did I mention this place offers all you can eat barbecue? Allow me to continue…
All you can eat BBQ sounds better in theory than it usually is. Making Q is a marathon, not a sprint. Having enough of it on hand to offer such a bounty generally leads me to assume you have lots of meat that is sitting for a very long time. That’s why I opted to go in a different direction and order single portions. To start, I ordered the sliced brisket sandwich on Texas Toast with Mac & Cheese as my side dish.
I’d tell you how much I love Texas Toast, but this is a B&P blog post, not an article on Grantland. I could write a tome on the stuff. It should be used sparingly when quality meat is concerned though, because you don’t want the bread on your sandwich so flavorful that it over powers the meat. Were I to order pulled pork, I most likely would have gone in a different direction. As it turned out, the toast complemented what was a very decent slice of cow quite nicely.
I won’t lie to you. The beef was tasty, but not tender enough to stand alone. Sauce was needed. Luckily, Sonny’s has a fairly nice selection of barbecue sauce to add flavor to your grub. I think that because it was a rather large chain, that none of the sauces were particularly spicy, which I personally prefer on my meat. For some reason, the pallet of the masses seems very benign. I opted for the “Sizzlin’ Sweet” which paired quite nicely with the brisket. The sandwich was enjoyable. If you are more sweet, than spicy than you would certainly be in luck with Sonny’s saucy options.
As sides go, the Mac & Cheese was not genre defining, but much better than was expected. I could have eaten gallon or two, but that really isn’t saying much. I would soak my contact lenses in Macaroni & Cheese if it were socially acceptable. I still had room after my meal though, so a side of Pulled Pork was clearly in order. Our waitress reminded me that it was “all you could eat” pulled pork. Unfortunately, it tasted like standard all you can eat fair.
The pork was dry and fairly stringy. The sauce helped punch it up a bit, but as a Carolina BBQ man, I’m of a mind that pork should be able to stand on it’s own with very little help. While this sounds critical, the pork would have been perfectly fine on a sandwich with plenty of sauce. There is no reason to avoid it.
Overall, the experience was quite enjoyable. The prices were reasonable, the beer was cold, the service was friendly and there was plenty of Q. Sonny’s is a good example of how sometimes BBQ snobs can allow their nonsense to stop them from stuffing themselves with perfectly acceptable farm animals. I give Sonny’s 3 Beer and Pig Coozies out of 5. When in Florida, stop on by after that 1pm rain storm that happens every-single-day.