Atmosphere "Red neck with fine art."
Price Range. Dinners from $3.50 to $7.95.
Hours: 11.30p.m. to 11p.m. Monday through Saturday; Sundays from non to 10 p.m.
Reservations: Note necessary but a good idea.
Special Facilities Accessible to Handicapped. High chairs for children.
Credit Cards: Bank America, Master-charges and American Express.
You hang your coats on steer horns, stare at a large head-on pointing of a pig, gorge on unlimited quantities of homemade green tomato pickies, coleslaw, biscuits and hush pupples and await the coming of the barbecues.
At the newly opened Arkansas barbecue restaurant, Hickory Dock, of Fairfax County, on Route 1 in the Hybia Valley section of Fairfax County, you don't have long to wait because the beef, pork, chicken and catfish already have been slow-cooking over hickory wood chips for up to 5 hours.
There are few barbecue restaurants around Washington, despite the advent of a president from a state where fires of open pit barbecues burn round the clock and flavor the air. So when our family heard the news, from a friend who had a Christmas turkey smoked there, we drove down Route 1 to find - among the neon drive-in - the same kind of excelent, reasonably priced barbecue restaurant we manage to stumble upon every year when we drive across the South to my wife's home in Louisiana.
"This is the only Red Neck restaurant I know with fine art," Hickory Dock's owner Robert Lowe, an Arkansas lawyer and onetime aide to former Sea J.W.Fulbright (D-Ark), told our family on a guided tour of the kitchen, which is available to those who ask theiir waiters.
The large dining room is bedecked with hanging baskets of plants - the live non-plastic and drawings by Washington artist Rebecca Davenport, including one of a bearded Lowe seated on a davenport. The kitchen also differs from most barbecue restaurants. There is no open pit with glowing hickory logs. Lowe proudly pats his recently patented slow-cooking oven, in which everything is smoked through handfulls of hickory wood chips.
Our two boys and their grandmother, a connoisseur of barbecued Louisiani lambs, pigs and steers for decades, gave rave reviews to what the wood chips had done to catfish, chicken and pork. My wife and I had spare ribs, at $6.95 the top of the line in barbecues, which we found, after trading forkfuls around the table, not as tasty as the pork. We rated the pork a best buy at $4.95 for a large platter.
Our-14-year-old fisherman son tried the catfish fillet, from Brazil, which is not smoked. It is one of several dishes for non-smokers.
"It's pretty good something tthat lives in a canal, but ther's no away I can eat it all. I had too much cole slaw and hush puppies," he said "Also the onion rings are exceptional. Take that down."
our 11-year-old, reviewing his smoked chicken, said it was "crisp but not greasy . . . but this is an enormous amount of food." He too had consumed laege quantities of hush puppies, cole slaw and coke in the short interval it took for our main courses to arrive. The adults overindulged in the other appetizers, pickled green mugs of beer. None of us ordered dessert, although we all had an apple from the basket by the door when we left.
The restaurant was cold even for a family which sets the thermostat at 62 during the day. However, as more people discover Hickory Dock and fill the dining room it should get warmer. Only one couple was in the restaurant the Wednesday night we were there in addition to the owner and a table of friends, although other customers may have patronized the Hickory Dock's carry-out counter.
Prices are cheaper for carry-out food and at lunch but they are served without unlimited quantities of hush puppies, tomato pickles and cole slaw. Most dinners are $3.50 to $4.95. Our bill for three adults and two hungry boys came $38.25 without tip.
One thing we all agreed upon was that our waiter, a young man from Thailand named Bhuwanart, was as attentive and gracious as any we're encountered. And we liked the painting of the pig.