published Friday, July 15th, 2011

Efficient Hog Heaven serves plenty of food

Rick Buff’s Hog Heaven BBQ, Catering & Chicago Style Dawgs doesn’t appear to want to be any more than it is — a quick place in Rossville to grab some barbecue or well-dressed hot dogs.

It’s small, actually an offshoot of Armando’s Restaurant, and is clean and efficient. A steady lunchtime parade of beefy utility workers and other customers provided testimony the day we were there to the place’s popularity.

All seemed to leave as satisfied customers.

THE MENU

IF YOU GO

Where: Rick Buff’s Hog Heaven BBQ, Catering & Chicago Style Dawgs, 1105 LaFayette Road, Rossville, Ga.

Phone: 706-861-1080.

Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday.

Price Range: 50 cents (cornbread muffin)-$16 (slab of ribs).

Directions: From downtown Chattanooga, take Rossville Boulevard to LaFayette Road; once you crest Missionary Ridge, the restaurant is about a quarter-mile down on the right.

As the name would indicate, barbecue is Hog Heaven’s specialty. You can get it in plates ($6.40-$9.25), sandwiches ($3.15-$4.35) or stuffed baked potatoes ($3.50-$5.40). And, since catering is part of the restaurant’s name, barbecue is also offered in bulk. A family pack (meat, sauce, sides, bread) is $15.50, while meat by the pound is $8 (pork) or $10.25 (beef or chicken). Ribs by the slab ($16) or half slab ($8.25) also are available.

Rick’s Chicago Style Dawgs appear to a sub-specialty. They’re available in three varieties, The Original Dawg (mustard, pickle, celery salt, onion, relish, tomato and peppers — $2.95), The Southern Dawg (mustard, onion, chili and slaw — $2.80) and The 3 Choice Dawg (any three toppings — slaw, tomato, jalapeno peppers, onions, chili, relish and cheese — $2.80).

Sides (50 cents-$2.75) include potato salad, slaw, baked beans, white beans, french fries, onion rings and cornbread muffins. They also may be ordered by the half pint, pint or quart. You also can get separate servings of Brunswick stew ($3.25) or BBQ Pork Cheese Fries ($4.75).

If a barbecue restaurant has desserts, banana pudding, for whatever reason, is always one of the choices. That’s the case at Hog Heaven, where the creamy, wafer-laden dish is available, along with cobbler, for $1.65 apiece.

The order (for two): Barbecue pork plate (mine); stuffed baked potato (my brother’s). The plate came with a choice of two sides, and I chose french fries and baked beans. It also had a thick slice of bread, cut diagonally in two.

In my experience, barbecue may be flavored either in the cooking, in the sauce or both. The plentiful amount of chopped meat on my plate didn’t seem to have a lot of flavor on its own, but a bottle of sauce was supplied.

There was no indication whether or not Hog Heaven’s sauce is homemade, but it tasted homemade. It was sweeter than most sauces, a touch of honey seemingly part of the recipe.

The beans were a notch above ordinary — even better with a little barbecue sauce — but the fries were nothing special.

My brother ate most of his pork-stuffed potato but felt the cheddar cheese had a bit of an odd taste, and the butter present in the bite I had of his tasted like margarine.

THE SERVICE

Orders are placed either at a drive-through window outside or a walk-up window inside, where it is requested patrons ring a bell — once. Our meals — in Styrofoam containers, with plastic utensils — were ready within five minutes. The drinks are self-serve, and ketchup, salt and pepper, and paper towels are available at the table.

THE SPACE

The small dining room, which seemed like an after-thought to Armando’s, has only four booths for four people, one table for four and one table for three. However, it was clean, had wood and metal siding, and sported buckets as unique lampshades over the four booths.

THE VERDICT

The steady stream of customers seemed to indicate the food was well-liked and served in get-your-money’s-worth portions. To me, it was nothing special and not a place I would go out of my way for (though a return trip to try the specialty hot dogs is tempting). That said, it wasn’t bad, it was served quickly and there was plenty of it.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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