Blueberry-chipotle ribs--blasphemy or bliss? It’s hard to imagine the traditional Southern favorite tweaked to such fruity/spicy terms, yet the taste is terrific. Tom Montgomery’s attempt in the we-do-them-our -way South has turned into triumph at the restaurant called 12 Bones Smokehouse. “Fruit is a natural pairing with pork on any level,” he explains reasonably. “You can use orange or blueberry or peach. We were running pumpkin for a while--a fantastic blend.” The restaurant also uses local beers in the kitchen and on the menu. “We’ll trade brewers a rack of ribs for beer and make a sauce,” says Sabra Kelley, Tom’s wife and co-owner.
She also points out a menu of sides so divine a vegetarian can eat hearty--especially the jalapeño cheese grits, corn pudding, and mashed sweet potatoes. There’s diversity in the sauces too (tomato, jalapeño, mustard, and vinegar); though, honestly, the baby back ribs need no adornment. Lines to get in form early and run deep into the parking lot here. There’s no doubt why. 5 Riverside Drive; www.12bones.com or (828) 253-4499. Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Sabra and Tom’s popular blueberry-chipotle ribs won the “Best Bites Challenge” in a recent contest on ABC-TV’s Good Morning America. Southerners had a great showing: Finalists included Yesterday Café in Rutledge, Georgia, and Aunt Jenny’s Catfish Restaurant in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
"12 Bones Smokehouse" is from the May 2008 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.