A taste of the South right here in Lansing


This week, I thought I would step out of my comfort zone and try a type of cuisine I haven’t had much experience with, so I made my way to Okemos to visit Social Sloth Cafe & Catering for its Turkish offerings. However, upon arrival, the restaurant was empty and dark, and there was a piece of paper taped to the door noting new hours.

I was ravenous, so I decided to patronize another nearby restaurant instead: Saddleback BBQ. I’d previously only eaten chicken wings from Saddleback and pizza from Slice by Saddleback, so I was excited to dig in and see how the food stood up to other barbecue dishes I’ve tried.

I decided on the Sandwich & Two Sides combo, which was a bit out of my price range at $16.49, but after feeling the weight of the hearty portion sizes in my stomach and tasting just how delicious everything was, I think it’s a fair price point.

I went with a pulled-chicken sandwich, mac and cheese and mashed sweet potatoes. I would have preferred the pulled pork, but it was sold out by my 7 p.m. dining time. The chicken was a bit dry, which wasn’t surprising since it’s hard to get the texture of white-meat chicken just right, but any qualms I had about that went out the window once I drizzled the barbecue sauces over the sandwich.

I tried two sauces, Sweet and Savory and Spicy Vinegar. The former was very sweet but still had the classic barbecue flavor, and the latter was a mild-to-medium spice level and very vinegary, something I can always appreciate. If you’re not a big vinegar fan, don’t go with the Spicy Vinegar. Both sauces were incredibly runny, which I’m not used to, but they covered and hydrated the meat well.

The sandwich bun was large and fluffy, keeping all the ingredients tucked away inside, and since the sauce was served on the side, it wasn’t soggy at all. I also have to note the cole slaw, which had just the right amount of mayo and provided a satisfying crunch with every bite.

Now let’s move on to the sides. The mac and cheese noodles were cooked to the perfect consistency — soft but not falling apart — and the cheese sauce was creamy, warm and plentiful, drowning all the noodles in its richness. The cheese sauce could have used more salt or the addition of a saltier cheese, in my opinion, but when cheese is included, I’ll eat just about anything.

The mashed sweet potatoes almost tasted like a deconstructed pumpkin pie. It would be a perfect side to order in the fall or winter for a warm hug of sweet, rich seasonal flavor, and you don’t even have to do any chewing, which is always a bonus.

After finishing my meal, I loudly exclaimed to my boyfriend that I would definitely eat at Saddleback again, and I meant it. The large portion sizes, bold flavors and obvious love cooked into the food made me feel like I was transported to the South in the best way possible, a brief reprieve I’ll be looking for when the cold weather rears its ugly head.


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