Gardner Barbecue and Chicken: Best in NC??????

OK so after my visit to Elizabeth City I made another stop in Rich Square.  On my way home I was heading down 95 south towards 64 and I saw a billboard advertising Gardner’s as being “voted NC’s best barbecue!”  I couldn’t consider myself a Q man if I didn’t try and find this place and see if it was true.  It was about 5 miles off the highway in Rocky Mount.  From the time I got out of my car I knew this may be trouble.  There was not a hint of Q smell in the air at all.  I held out some hope that once inside it would change.  Guess what, it didn’t, if there wasn’t a sign saying that I was in a BBQ restaurant I would have never known.

I ordered the BBQ dinner which came with three sides plus hush puppies.  I was still holding out hope the food would redeem what I had experienced so far.  I ordered sides of cabbage, collards, and potato salad and hopd for the best.  I don’t know where to begin with this, and I think that says a lot.  I’ll start with the sides.  Neither the collards or the cabbage was any good.  It wasn’t just bland, just didn’t taste good.  I don’t know what to say about the potato salad, because I am pretty sure that they just gave me big chunks of potato that was in the Brunswick stew.  At least that’s how it looked and tasted.  I didn’t make a fuss about because I had already been disappointed enough and didn’t want to add to it.  Simply put, the meat wasn’t good.  It was very dry, which took away from the somewhat decent flavor the meat had.  They had their vinegar sauce on the table and I tried to give everything a good dosage of it to try and save the meal.  It didn’t work.  While the vinegar sauce was decent, it just wasn’t enough to save the meal.

Needless to say, I really wonder how they were voted the best in NC?  I have been trying to find it on the web as to where that vote came from but have had no luck.  Based on my meal I wouldn’t place them very close to the top in NC or anywhere for that matter.  They have several location in Rocky Mount so I would be curious to here from others who have been there and would like to offer their opinion of the place.  You just can’t advertise as being voted the best in NC and be that disappointing.  As a side note, they also have a buffet and some of the people near me were complaining to each other about the quality of the buffet.

Anyone else been there?  Please talk to me!

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