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If you're unfamiliar with Hard Eight, let me give you a brief rundown of the process. When you walk in, you go straight up to the pit (well, after about a 30 minute wait in line). You order your assorted meats by the pound, or fraction thereof. They weigh everything and slap a barcoded sticker on your tray. Once you're finished there, grab your grub and head inside to pick out your side dishes.
I ordered a meat-tastic smorgasbord: 4 pork ribs, 3 slices of ham, 1/4 link of regular sausage, 1/4 lb. of sliced brisket, and 4 shrimp poppers. I also added a side of fries just for good measure.
The fries were really good and pleasantly homemade. They were crisp, but certainly not hard. I found just the right amount of seasoning here. Although, their side of fries is probably large enough for 3 people to share.
With the ham, I didn't find quite as much smoke as I was expecting. The crust was nice and crispy though. There was a lot of salt, but the ham lacked any other seasonings. As for the sausage, it had a fairly pale color, suggesting that it needed more time in the smokers. The flavor of the sausage was good overall, and it did have plenty of pepper. Flavor aside, something was just a bit off about it.
The brisket had a nice amount of smoke, with a decently pronounced smoke ring. It was also pretty tender and juicy. The only thing I found lacking was the presentation. I wish the pitmaster had cut it properly so I could have gotten some actual slices rather than a stringy chopped mess.
Their shrimp poppers are basically shrimp and jalapeno wrapped in bacon. They look bitesize, but leaving the tails on makes that a little difficult. The bacon was tough, and I think it had been warming on the pit for quite a while. One of my 4 poppers was actually of the chicken variety by mistake. Surprisingly, this was the only one that had any actual spiciness to it.
I left the ribs for last. They had a good crust and a decent red smokey hue on the edge. I didn't find much flavor other than salt and smoke. The meat was nice and juicy, but to the point that it fell right off the bone with nothing more than a gentle tug. Overcooked ribs strike again.
Sorry Hard Eight, but you crapped out.
Read my full review, complete with pictures:
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