Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

April 14, 2013

Tim Preston: Great barbecue, bacon-burger dreams, glue and Gundams: 4/14/13

ASHLAND — I made an unexpected run to Cave Run last week to meet a famous fisherman and arrange for an afternoon on the water in search of some monsters with teeth, and had an outstanding lunch with some fine folks as part of the day’s adventure.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a nut for good barbecue and the people at Pop’s Southern Style Barbecue at 110 Ky. 801 in Morehead had me smiling for the rest of the day after a half-dozen of us shared a big meal there. If I’m not mistaken, there were only two people working that day, and I’m pretty sure that was the owner and chief pork smoker who was out there bussing tables between customers.

I ordered the smoked pulled-pork sandwich with a side of hush puppies (everyone else ordered onion rings, which looked and smelled delicious) and it was just outstanding. The smoke flavor was abundant and the sandwich was so loaded with meat I had to pull pork from around the edges before I could even pick it up! The meat was extra juicy and tender, and I can safely say it was one of the best barbecue sandwiches I’ve had in the area. Our fishing friend ordered the brisket, which the server advised had just been pulled out and sliced with “the juices just running,” and I would have tried to steal a bite, but feared I might lose a hand if I did.

The place was extra busy that day, so I didn’t get to do one of my famous hit-and-run interviews, but I did snag a takeout menu. In addition to pulled pork, sliced pork loin, baby back ribs and beef brisket, they have an excellent selection of salads (I heard great things about the Grilled Jumbo Tiger Shrimp Salad), burgers and sandwiches, including a catfish version, and hand-cut Black Angus steaks, among many other options. I have no idea what “AYCE Beef Liver” is, but they have that, too.

If you find yourself in the vicinity of Cave Run Lake, give them a try. For more information, call (606) 784-6378.

Dreaming of burgers

It was almost as if Bill Hornbuckle had turned on the “Bat Signal” last week when he posted an online photo of a bacon cheeseburger with a side of onion rings he enjoyed with Coach Bill Bradley during lunch at Ashland BPO Elks Lodge 350.

I’m really not joking when I say burgers are my business, and that photo certainly motivated to do my job ... especially considering the fact I actually had a nearly-naughty food dream starring that bacon cheeseburger a few nights later.

I had assumed Mr. Hornbuckle snapped the photo with a cellphone camera, and it appeared as if he’d arranged it perfectly to take advantage of the soft light spilling across the meal. I thought, “Honestly, I’ve seen professional food photos that weren’t nearly as appetizing.” I tracked the man down last week to ask if I could reprint the photo and the mystery was revealed. “I did have a cheeseburger that day at the Elks,” he said, but he did not photograph the sandwich. Instead, he found a nearly identical image online and added his own praise for the burger beneath. In his defense, Hornbuckle said the burger in the photo was so exact he expects it would likely pass the inspection of even the Elks.

“If you’d a set my plate beside it, you wouldn’t know the difference,” he said.

I asked around and was surprised to find a 100 percent approval rating for lunches from the lodge, and everyone I talked to mentioned the lodge’s signature dish, baked steak. Mark Maynard, who says he isn’t even a fan of baked steak, was particularly enthusiastic about the entree, and reminded me he has told me about their great burgers several times.

I haven’t had a chance to drop by for my own Elks bacon cheeseburger and fries, but I certainly plan to do so at the first opportunity. Like many people, I had assumed you needed to be a member of the lodge to enjoy lunch there, but that just isn’t the case. Manager Bill Grace said they welcome the public from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, and confirmed they take great pride in serving satisfying food at “the best prices in town.”

Grace also gave full credit to the hard work of chief cook Connie Messer, and advised they have plenty of other great things on the menu as well as burgers. I got Messer on the phone about 120 seconds before she was scheduled to leave that day and she offered to make another burger and onion rings for the sake of our photographer, Kevin Goldy, and he brought the whole package back to the office (where Maynard and myself promptly cut it up and savored every bite). I’m definitely going back for my own full plate next week.

Messer also said she welcomes newcomers for lunch at the Elks, and added that before she got the job there, she also thought you had to be a member to eat at the lodge. For more information or to place an order, call (606) 324-5720.

As seen in this paper

I received a note about a new business in Catlettsburg last week, Starbase 51 Hobby Shop, at 2614 Louisa St., “two doors down from the Catlettsburg library next to the Gun Works/Zombie Apocalypse store,” from a reader who saw the store’s ad in our annual Progress edition and visited the place the following day.

“Though they’re fairly new they had quite a few kits to buy as well as ones the owner had created. Being new they’re also open to suggestions of what to carry and can order just about anything you want. They just got some Gundams in stock that are next to impossible to find anywhere near here and cost a fortune online because of shipping and scarcity. They also buy, sell and/or trade trains and possibly other things as they learn the taste of the local population,” the happy customer reported, adding her son met both owners and was quite pleased about the knowledge of various kits and trains. “It’s a nice clean little store, on the bus route through Catlettsburg and much closer than driving to downtown Huntington. We both were impressed with how much they want it to not only succeed but be a ‘go to’ place for hobby needs.”

I passed the note along to The Independent’s in-house model enthusiast, Ken Hart, and he immediately declared he was going to visit Starbase 51 (a “Star Trek” reference) during his lunch hour that day, so I will give you his review as early as next week. In the meantime, the shop is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, if you want to drop by and give me your own review of the business.

For more information, call (606) 739-0294.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

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