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Entries in Restaurant Review (11)

Saturday
Jan232016

My Visit to Peg Leg Porker - Nashville, TN

Rather than write a review of Carey Bringle's BBQ joint, Peg Leg Porker, this entry will simply be a description of my visit.  You see, I met Carey a few years ago when we both attended a seminar called "The Business of BBQ" hosted by Mike & Amy Mills at 17th Street Barbeque in Murphysboro, IL.  Subsequently, I hung out with Carey and his competition team at Priase the Lard a couple of times and helped him serve at the first annual Kentucky State BBQ Festival.  So to say that I'm predisposed to enjoy my trip to Peg Leg Porker would be an understatement. 

My daughter is in the process of selecting an institution of higher learning, so that drew us to Nashville for a college visit.  While the family enjoyed learning about some of the finer points of college dining halls, I discovered that Peg Leg Porker was only a short drive away.  I excused myself from the cafeteria line and hit the road.

I'd seen a numer of photos from Carey's social media sites, so I quickly recognized the place when I saw it.  Located in an area of Nashville called The Gulch, Peg Leg Porker is in a trendy area of Southwest Nashville and a popualr destination for locals and college students.

Out front, Peg Leg Porker has a whole hog pit that they use on occassion and plenty of patio seating.  Inside, the front wall is graced with a huge bar, TV's, beer, and spirits, including Peg Leg Porker bourbon.  But that's a topic for another time.  At the back of the place, a counter sits in front of the open kitchen.  Like any good BBQ joint, the menu is simple and displayed above the register.

Being familiar with Peg Leg Porker, there was no doubt that I was having the dry ribs.  So I ordered up a 1/2 a rack with a couple of sides, a glass of sweet tea, and settled down to enjoy me some Tennessee BBQ.  And, I was not disappointed.  The ribs were just the way I remembered them and my only regret is that I only ordered a 1/2 a rack.

When I finished, I bought a trucker hat with the Peg Leg Porker logo and headed back to meet up with the family.  Carey was out of town this particular weekend, so we didn't get a chance to reconnect.  I did get a chance to talk with one of his crew that I'd met before.  

I'm not sure how this college search will turn out, but I'm pulling for Belmont Unviversity.  That would keep me in Nashville and good BBQ for the next 4 years!

Cheers,
Braddog 

Wednesday
Feb112015

Review: The Righteous Pig

I finally had a chance to try one of the newer BBQ joints in my area.  In fairness, they've been there a little while but I've only just had the opportunity to give them a try.

The formula for BBQ joints is pretty predictable these days.  Like most of these places, the menu is on a chalkboard, you order at the counter, self service drink station and so on.  The Righteous Pig is no exception to this formula.  I really like the old building they are in.  Old hardwood floors and exposed brick walls make it a pretty cool place.  

 

The menu items are pretty standard fare at the Righteous Pig.  But, the burnt ends sandwich is the specialty on Friday.  The server at the counter talked me into it, as apparently it's the only day of the week that burnt ends are available.  All I can say is, I shoulda had the pulled pork.

I know that burnt ends are made from the fattier, point of the brisket.  But, I got way more fat than I bargained for.  I was also surprised that the sandwich was served on an onion roll, adding an unexpected flavor to the meal.  Overall, I didn't care for my lunch all that much.

In keeping with the formula, there were a jumble of sauces on the table.  A couple of them were really heavy on the heat, a couple were unique flavor combinations (bacon, peach, beer, etc.).  I don't expect boutique sauces, but prefer more traditional regional varities instead.  

Will I go back?  Sure, I'm willing to try it again.  I'd like to try an everyday menu item and see if my experience was an anomally.

In the meantime, here's my report card for The Righteous Pig:

  • BBQ - C

  • Side Dishes - B

  • Atmosphere - A

  • Value - C

  • Service - A
  • Overall - B-

And, here's the particulars for The Righteous Pig:

The Righteous Pig
124 East Main Street
Belleville, Illinois  62220

http://www.righteouspigbbq.com

Cheers,
Braddog 

 

Friday
Jan162015

Review: Beast Craft BBQ

BBQ joints seem to be opening every other week in my area.  Recently, Beast Craft BBQ opened up in the location of a former diner.  I've been anxious to try it out, and today I finally had a chance.  

A friend and I agreed to meet for lunch at 11:30.  The parking lot was pretty full when we arrived and when we went inside, the line was 20+ people long and there were no empty tables.  I figured this was a good sign.  However, nearly every table in one of the dining areas were waiting for their food and the line hardly moved.  In fact, more than a few potential customers in line behind and ahead of us chose to go elsewhere based on the slow service.

All that aside, how was the BBQ?  Pretty darned good.  I had the brisket sandwich and hand cut fries, while my lunch mate had the pulled pork sandwich and corn on the cob.  All the items were very tasty.  The brisket sandwich was served with grilled onions and a house mustard.  The pulled pork was served with slaw on the sandwich (as it should be).

Brisket Sandwich with Hand-cut Fries

Pulled Pork Sandwich w/Slaw & Grilled Corn

Beast Craft is bucking one of the most common trends in BBQ joints these days.  There was "1", count 'em, "1" bottle of BBQ sauce on the table.  And, it was very good.  In fact, it might be my favorite part of the meal.  I saw no evidence that they're bottling and selling this sauce, but they should.

I also like that they are selling soft drinks from a local bottler and not the big guys.  However, no self-respecting BBQ joint should ever sell sweet tea that is mango flavored.  That's just wrong.

If they can address their customer flow and service issues (and lose the mango flavored tea), I believe that they'll do just fine.  Here's my report card for my visit to Beast Craft BBQ:

  • BBQ - B+

  • Side Dishes - B

  • Atmosphere - B

  • Value - B

  • Service - C
  • Overall - B-

And, here's their location & contact info:

Beast Craft BBQ

20 S Belt W Belleville, IL 

Give 'em a shot, I think you'll like it,

Cheers,
Braddog 

 

 

Monday
Jun032013

Review - Sugarfire Smokehouse, St. Louis

I'm not a huge fan of chain restaurants, even if they are BBQ joints. Which is why I had not noticed that the Dickey's BBQ near my office had suddenly been converted to Sugarfire Smokehouse. I figured it was a good sign that they always seemed to be busy at lunch time. In fact, too busy for me to try the place. But this weekend, I happened by there just after they opened and was finally able to try it out.

I was encouraged by the Ole Hickory smoker sitting on the patio right by the front door. Thats an odd place for your pit, but I've eaten some really food BBQ out of one of those pits, so i took it as another good sign. There a few remnants of the former Dickey's, but I was encouraged to see the place rearranged with the kitchen in full view and lots of employees busily prepping for the lunch crowd.

Like a lot of classic BBQ joints, the menu was written in chalk at the order station. That's not a bad thing, unless you use a lot of unique names for your menu items. There's no place on the chalkboard to describe what a "Big Muddy" sand which is for example.

Nonetheless, I ordered up the 2 meat platter and watched as the guy at the counter pulled out a large tray covered with butcher paper and piled on pulled pork and freshly sliced brisket. Down the cafeteria-style line I went, adding bbq beans and hand cut fries to my meal. And like any self respecting BBQ joint, sweet tea completed my order.

I grabbed a seat at one of the tables left over from the days as a Dickey's franchise and eyed the four bottles of clearly homemade sauces that seem to be a requirement for any BBQ joint these days. I got what I expected from the Texas Hot, Sweet BBQ, & White Sauces. But I cautiously tried the "Cherry" sauce as indicated (as they all were) by the handwritten masking tape label. Let me just say that I hope that's not a regular sauce and just an experiment, cause it was not good.

Other than my dislike of the Cherry sauce, I didn't find another thing that wasn't good. The pork & brisket were moist and tender, the bark was tasty, and the sides were very good. The portions were very generous, and I found the meal to be a good value overall.

Here's how I'd rate my visit to Sugarfire Smokehouse:

BBQ - A

Side Dishes -

Atmosphere - B-

Value - A-

Overall - A

I keep a list of the best BBQ joints in St Louis. Since I'm the resident BBQ snob among my friends & family, I'm often asked where to get good BBQ. Sugarfire Smokehouse just made the short list. If you're interested, here's their particulars:

Sugarfire Smokehouse
Http://www.sugarfiresmokehouse.com
9200 Olive Blvd.
Olivette, MO 63132
St. Louis, MO, USA

Business Hours:
11am - 9PM Daily

Cheers,
Braddog

 

Monday
Dec312012

Review: Sonny's BBQ Restaurant

I recently visited my folks in Southwest Florida.  They know that I'd rather eat BBQ than just about anything else, and they also like to share their discoveries with me.  So, when it came time to grab lunch they steered us towards the Sonny's BBQ in Cape Coral.  

Sonny's is a BBQ franchise with locations in 9 states.  A quick look at their website find ~125 locations listed.  With that kind of succes, you'd think they must do something right.  Turns out, they do.

The place was pretty nice and business was a bit slow given that we were late for lunch and early for dinner.  Nonetheless, we ordered up some sweet tea and took a look at the menu.  It was extensive.  I opted for a trip to the salad bar and the brisket plate with a couple of sides.  Turns out, I should have skipped the salad bar.  The brisket portion was generous, and the side dishes were large as well.

The brisket was sliced thin and had a good flavor.  I had a little more fat on my plate than I'd prefer, but it was tastey.  There was a variety of sauces on the table, all original Sonny's flavors.  They were all pretty good, but I opted to enjoy my brisket without sauce.  My folks went for the sweet sauce and enjoyed it as well.

They had a decent selection of side dishes.  I opted for cole slaw and green beans since I've been trying to watch my diet a little.  They were both very good, but I was sure wishing for that I'd ordered some of the BBQ beans or baked sweet potato that my folks enjoyed.  They looked great.

Here's how I'd rate my trip to Sonny's:

  • BBQ - B

  • Side Dishes - B

  • Atmosphere - B

  • Value - B

  • Overall - B

Overall, a solid joint that I'd enjoy eating at again.  And, given their growing footprint that's highly likely.


Cheers,
Braddog 

 

Wednesday
Jul042012

Review: Famous Dave's BBQ

I wanted to like it.  Really, I did.  I mean I've seen Famous Dave on TV and really wanted to like my first experience eating at one of his BBQ restaurants.  But unfortunately, I was underwhelmed.  

Untitled

Okay, I liked a couple of the spicier BBQ sauces on the table, the sweet cornbread muffin, and the complimentary sample of BBQ chips that was served for the purposes of sampling the 5 BBQ sauces on the table.  My wife ordered the smoked salmon spread from the appetizer menu and it was pretty good.

But as for the BBQ, I found it to be medicore.  It wasn't smokey, it didn't seem all that fresh, and unfortunately they served it with a big dose of their house sauce on top.  I had the combo lunch plate with pulled pork and brisket.  I found it to be very bland when I could get a taste around the sauce.

This seems to me like an example of the franchise concept driving the quality of the food to a level less than the founder started with or intended.  At least, I hope so.  

The restaurant itself felt like I'd stepped into an Applebees or a TGI Fridays.  Again, the franchise thing has driven all the originality and uniqueness right out of the place.  If you blindfolded me before I entered and then you handed me a menu from one of the aforementioned franchises, I would've thought that's where I was.  It's kinda sad actually.

Here's my report card:

  • BBQ - C

  • Side Dishes - B

  • Atmosphere - C

  • Value - C

  • Overall - C

Nonetheless, I'd rather eat mediocre, chain-BBQ-restaurant food than a lot of other franchises.  So considering the alternatives in the greater Branson, MO area, I'd probably eat at Famous Dave's again.

Cheers,
Braddog 

 

Tuesday
Mar272012

Review: Country BBQ - Bethalto, IL

It's been awhile since I found and reviewed a new BBQ joint.  However, this past weekend I had some time to kill and I was in an area that I don't often visit.  So, I plugged "BBQ" into Google Maps on my iPhone and found out that I was only a couple of miles from Country BBQ.

I followed the guidance directions and pretty soon, I'd located Country BBQ.  It's a small place that you'd miss if you weren't looking for it, but that's usually where you find the best BBQ.  So I found a spot to park, stepped to the counter, ordered, and grabbed one of the dozen or so tables in the place.

I ordered the 2-meat plate.  Sliced beef and pulled pork, along with sides of cole slow and BBQ beans.  They did have sweet tea (the mark of any good BBQ joint), but I skipped it as I'm watching the extra calories and cutting them out where I can.

Country BBQ - Bethalto, IL

The food came out quick enough and I was impressed by the generous portions. Definitely a good value.  The cole slaw was kind of a cross between a vinegar and creamy based slaw, but it was very good.  The BBQ beans were okay, but there was a flavor there that I couldn't put my finger on and frankly didn't care for all that much.  When I ordered "sliced beef", I assumed that would be brisket.  Disappointingly, it was closer to a shaved roast beef and not very "bbq like".  However, the pulled pork was very good.  It was finely chopped, but I really enjoyed the flavor.  

There were 3 kinds of sauce on the table.  I chose the "regular" sauce and while it was thin, I thought it was very good.  I did not try the mustard sauce or the other sauce that appeared to be a thick KC style sauce.  Two giant slabs of Texas toast rounded out the meal.

Overall, I liked the joint.  I'd recommend the pulled pork for sure.  Here's how Country BBQ in Bethalto, IL stacks up on my score card:

  • BBQ - B

  • Side Dishes - B

  • Atmosphere - B

  • Value - A

  • Overall - B

If you find yourself in the area, give this place a shot.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.  

Cheers,
Braddog 

Wednesday
Jul142010

Best BBQ in St. Louis

I try to make it a habit of visiting as many BBQ joints as I can for a couple of reasons.  First I like good BBQ, and second it's great blog fodder. ;)

Over the past couple of years, I've eaten at most of the BBQ joints in the St. Louis area.  There are a couple of chains that I typically avoid and I'm sure there are places that I haven't had the opportunity to try.

However, I though I'd put together the short list of the places that I think are at the top of the heap in the St. Louis area.  Note that this includes the metro-east or Illinois side of the metro area, mainly cause that's where I think you'll find the best BBQ in town.

Here goes:

  1. 17th St. Barbeque- This is my favorite place to eat BBQ in the St. Louis area.  It's one of Mike Mills' restaurants.  If you track the BBQ culture, you know that Mike "The Legend" Mills is a well respected competition cook, restaurateur, and pitmaster.  If you live in the St. Louis metro area, it's worth the drive to try Mike's ribs in O'fallon, IL.
  2. Pappy's Smokehouse -Another joint with great credentials, Pappy's sports some trophies from Memphis in May and folks line up at lunch time to get a taste of some really great BBQ.  Pappy's has also been featured on food & travel shows on cable TV.  They're located in the downtown area so there's no excuse not to sample their fare, but get there early.  When they run out of BBQ, they close early.
  3. Plush Pig- This is a place that I nearly overlooked when they were located in downtown Clayton, MO.  They've since relocated, revamped the menu, and if possible made the BBQ even better.  Still one of my top 5 places to eat BBQ in St. Louis, they're now located at McKnight & Manchester.
  4. Hick's BBQ- Another Illinois place, I discovered them after buying some of their sauce at a BBQ shop in St. Louis.  I've enjoyed their BBQ a couple of times, but when I attended a backyard party that they catered I really became a fan.  I highly recommend their sauce and their BBQ.  I've also had the opportunity to meet the owner and he's a super nice guy, further reinforcing my belief that if you BBQ you're my friend.

So there you have it gang.  To my taste buds, these are the best BBQ joints in the St. Louis metro area.  Who'd I miss? Which joints do I need to visit?  Where do you think the best BBQ in St. Louis can be found?  Drop me a comment and let me know.


Cheers,
Braddog

Saturday
Oct102009

Review: Rendezvous - Memphis, TN

I'm reluctant to even write a review of the Rendezvous in Memphis, TN as I'm sure that it's been done many times given their reputation.  But, why stop now when I take every chance I get to review a new BBQ joint.

I can usually coerce my family into eating BBQ at least once when we travel and since we were staying just a block away, it seemed inevitable that this is where we would eat  BBQ.   I'd received strong recommendations for a couple of other places, but Memphis is just full of too many places to choose from and the reputation and proximity of the Rendezvous sealed the decision.

In any event, we headed over to the Rendezvous on Friday night to find the place rapidly filling up as the dinner hour was getting into full swing.  Looks are deceiving, and there is plenty of seating inside. We were quickly shown to a table where we perused the menu.  For my family, there was some debate as to what they would order but for me this was a foregone conclusion.  So my wife and kids ordered up BBQ chicken platters, while I went for the whole slab of ribs.

The Rendezvous isn't fancy and the food was served quickly on paper plates with plastic utensils.  The family got started on chicken that was very tasty and I paused to snap a picture of my ribs.  Now I prefer dry rubbed BBQ and typically turn up my nose at BBQ that is too wet, but I was not prepared for the amount of dry rub & spices that were visible on the surface of my ribs.  My wife took one look at my ribs and said, "Those don't look like Braddog ribs".  I was flattered and didn't bother to try to explain that these ribs are char grilled as opposed to the way I prepare them.

The ribs were tasty, but due to the chargrilling they were chewier than I'm used to.  The beans were very good and the slaw was sweet and vinegary (the way I like it).  Service was top notch and the we were in and out in a very short amount of time.  I'd read enough about the place beforehand that there were no surprises and all-in-all I enjoyed my trip to the Rendezvous.

There may be better BBQ in Memphis, but based on reputation and notoriety you've got to give the Rendezvous a shot when you're in town.

Cheers,
Braddog

Wednesday
Sep232009

Review: Peppers Deli & BBQ

I sure like to find local joints to try and when I find a place that has "BBQ" on the sign on front, I like to give those guys a few of my train-ridin' dollars in exchange for their brand of BBQ. So when I spotted Peppers Deli & BBQ in Ellisville, MO, I decided to give them a shot.

First of all, let me say that I really liked the owner and the way he took the time to talk to every person who stepped to the counter. It was very apparent that he has a lot of regular customers and I figure that's a good sign.

The sandwich board is loaded with all sorts of deli sandwiches and a whole section of "Slow Smoked BBQ" that included everything from pulled pork to BBQ ribs. Unfortunately, the BBQ was not great. It was tender, but it was kept in a warmer with a vinegary kind of sauce. When they served it up, they ladled on a bunch of St. Louis style BBQ sauce (that's a thick, sweet sauce). There was just too much sauce (both kinds) to be able to taste much about the meat.

While I won't go back for their BBQ, the other parts of the place and supporting a small business owner will definitely make me go and try one of the many deli sandwiches on their menu.

Cheers,
Braddog