After somewhat of a hiatus, Mary the Photographer and I are back on the road. So good to feel good again! We were looking for a little PA-style entertainment and decided to head north to Wellsboro and the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. But as is always the case on a road trip, it’s not all about the destination.
We hit Williamsport in time for lunch. I have come to this town, sort of a gateway to the Endless Mountains, a few times over the years—and eaten at Franco’s and the Olive Tree. But while we were talking about where to eat Mary said “pork sandwich” and so that was all I could think of. She pulled out her tablet and found Acme Barbecue and Catering Company—with a review that said someone who lives in North Carolina makes a point of stopping at Acme if he’s in town. Good enough for me!
Easy to find right on Market Street (from the south you pretty much just drive into town and there it is). While Mary took a picture of the pig poster outside, the aroma of smoked meat beckoned me to open the door. As all barbeque joints should be, it’s small inside, order at the counter, sit at one of a few tables or get takeout (which I’ll bet happens frequently).
The menu: Pork. Check. Brisket. Check. Ribs. Check. Deep-fried potato salad. Ch—what?? Regular readers know what happened next. I ordered a pork sandwich with two sides—cole slaw, natch, and that deep-fried potato salad. Mary got the brisket and mac-n-cheese.
According to the Acme website, Acme owner (also Army veteran and culinary school graduate) George Logue has a philosophy: “Barbecue is not slathering sauce all over a protein. This is a sign that the protein was cooked incorrectly and the sauce is drowning an imperfection. In fact, not all barbecue needs sauce. If you cook a piece of meat and pay enough attention to it, the end result is a meaty, juicy, and tasty product.”
And as I sampled my sandwich, I had to say amen. The pork was heavenly—as close to my brother-in-law’s homegrown as I’ve ever had. At the table we had a choice of six sauces from sweet vinegar to habanero hot—not to drown but to sample. I tried a bit of each of them but in the end the Acme sauce (red, tangy, not too sweet) was the winner for both Mary and me.
How do I describe the deep-fried potato salad? I had pictured my mother’s potato salad with its Pennsylvania Dutch roots (“ruts”)--chunks of potato with bits of celery and onion (and a little hardboiled egg) slathered in mayonnaise. I couldn’t imagine how that would translate to deep fried. Not that I’ve ever eaten one but I know deep-fried Twinkies get a batter—could that be it? What was served to me, says Mary, brought Pennsylvania Dutch potato salad into the 21st century. Chunks of fried potato, nice and hot, covered (also not drowned) in a white sauce that certainly wasn’t my mother’s Miracle Whip. More like a ranch-style dressing, it was really good and really different. And way too much to finish the meal. We were told it’s so popular they have to make it twice a day to keep up with the demand.
When we left we were sure we weren’t going to have a meal that good again on this trip—or that we would have room for one! For the next day and a half on the road, every so often one of us would mention barbecue. Or we would pass another barbecue joint. Each time it just brought us back to Acme and when we could make another trip to Williamsport.
Photos by Mary Brenner