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Entries in Review (47)


Review:  Bar-B-Cutie

For many years, my uncle and I would travel to Talladega, AL for the Winston Cup races.  It became a tradition for us to stop in Franklin, TN and eat BBQ at Herbert's.  So when I headed south with my family for vacation this year, I was anxiously anticipating a stop at Herbert's for dinner.

However, I was very dissappointed to find that Herbert's has closed and a new strip mall stands where the restaurant once served up some might fine "Q".  I was encourged to at least find a BBQ joint in the strip mall, called Bar-b-Cutie.  It was dinner time and my wife and kids had agreed to BBQ for dinner, so we ventured inside.


It became apparent pretty quickly that we were in a franchised joint.  Now that's not necessarily a bad thing, but you definitely loose some of the quaintness of a local joint.  The joint served up BBQ that would do in a pinch, but it just doesn't live up to the place that used to stand in that spot.  The BBQ was okay, the sides were disappointing, but the sweet tea was good!

Here's my run down of Bar-B-Cutie:

  • BBQ – B-

  • Side Dishes – C

  • Atmosphere – B

  • Value – B

  • Overall – B-



Review: Larry's Pit BBQ Christopher, IL

Larry's Pit BBQ is a little joint near my hometown and has always been one of my favorite places to eat when I visit my folks.  This past weekend, we had reason to make the trip and my wife suggested Larry's for lunch as she's a huge fan of their baked beans.

It appears that Larry's business has grown nicely over the years, the building has been expanded and the parking lot improved.  Heck, they even have a drive thru now.  I'm glad to see a local joint like this doing so well. 

One of the things that I've always like about Larry's is their sauce and the relish that they serve on their sandwich (optionally).  They call it "chow" and I think it's a great twist on the practice of putting slaw on a BBQ sandwich.  Their sauce is a pretty traditional Memphis style sauce, and they have it in both mild and hot varities.

Larry's serves pretty good pork BBQ, smoked turkey & chicken, and farm raised catfish.  In fact, there were probably as many people eating fish as there were eating BBQ.  I ordered my ususal jumbo pork sandwich with "chow" and their hot BBQ sauce.  It's funny that I'd never noticed before that their pork appears to be thinly sliced pork loin rather than pork butt or shoulder.  As I thought about it, I believe it's always been that way but I'm a little more educated on the subject now than I used to be.


Portions are very generous and their BBQ sandwich plate is served with 3 sides.  Most joints only serve 1 or 2 sides with a sandwich.  The menu is extensive and the prices are very reasonable, giving them high marks in the "value" category.

Here's how I'd rate Larry's BBQ:

  • BBQ - B
  • Side Dishes - A
  • Atmosphere - A
  • Value - A
  • Overall – A-






Review: Q4U Frisco, CO

I'm enjoying some late spring skiing in Colorado with my family.  Today, my wife threw me a bone and suggested we try a BBQ joint in Frisco, CO. I guess that's the least she can doing since I'll spend the next 3 days packing everyone's skis and gear back and forth from the mountain.

In any event, we wondered into a place called Q4U. I could see smoke rising from behind a picket fence so I had high hopes. Like a lot of BBQ joints, there was a chalkboard for a menu and orders are taken at the counter. My wife ordered a pork sandwich and I opted for the burnt ends sandwich (I won't mention the kids meals here since they didn't try the BBQ).

I was a little disappointed to receive a sandwich covered in sauce, but the sauce was pretty good and it wasn't overpowering. The sandwich was served on a very crusty roll, not what I'd expected.  My wife thought the pork was a little tough. I thought the burnt ends were pretty good and the baked beans were tasty.


I began to wonder what the regional preferences are for BBQ in Colorado.  Am I unfairly comparing Q4U to my own preferences for BBQ?  I don't know.  I did enjoy the BBQ and at the most basic level, the burnt ends were smoky, had a nice bark, and were very tasty.  Buns & sauce aside, I guess that's what really matters.

Here’s my final report card:

  • BBQ - A-
  • Side Dishes - B
  • Atmosphere - B
  • Value - B
  • Overall – B



Review: Pappy's Smokehouse

pappy-sized-invertA recent story on the Travel Channel made me aware of a BBQ restaurant in my own backyard that I had yet to try.  Apparently, the restaurant has won Best BBQ in St. Louis by a couple of local publications.  I guess I really gotta pay more attention to what's going on in my part of the world.

Nonetheless, I made the journey to Pappy's Smokehouse for lunch today.  Before leaving work, I looked up their hours or operation only to discover that their hours are variable based on what time they sell out of their various meats.  Apparently they prepare enough meat for each day and when it's gone it's gone.  So I headed out with a sense of urgency.  When I walked in, I was greeted by a line that stretched almost the entire length of the place.  

As I watched plate after plate of good looking BBQ being brought from the kitchen, I was greeted by the sight of 3 Memphis in May trophies near the front counter.  I guess these guys really know what they're doing.  I was also very encouraged to see that the BBQ was served sans sauce but there were three types available as condiments on the table. 

I ordered up a pulled pork sandwich with a side of baked beans and an ear of deep-fried corn on the cob.



This was the small sandwich but the pulled pork was generously piled onto a bun.  It was very tender and had a nice smoke flavor.  I opted for their sauce called "Holly's Hot Sauce".  They bill it as a Texas style sauce, and I enjoyed it very much.  The baked beans had a nice flavor but I have to say that I wasn't wild about the deep fried corn on the cob, although it was definitely a first for me.  I also tried a bite of their brisket (one of my lunch pals gave a sample from his plate), and found it to be very good as well.

Like most BBQ joints, the place was minimally decorated.  They had a super wait staff though and I enjoyed the blues music that played while we ate. They were very prompt in getting the food out, cleaning off tables, and ensuring that everyone was satisfied with their meal.  In fact, the owner himself was very visible around the place.

The menu is extensive and they do a very nice variety of meats and sidedishes.  If their catering business is anywhere near as busy as their lunchtime business, then they must do a great business.  

I'll make another trip here you can bet.  I'd like to try more of their brisket and maybe some chicken, but they've got a real shot at being my recommendation as best in St. Louis.  Oh, there's one other "clear the bar" item for any good BBQ joint and Pappy's didn't disappoint.  They serve sweet tea!  ;>)

Here's my final report card:

  • BBQ - A
  • Side Dishes - A-
  • Atmosphere - A
  • Value - A
  • Overall – A

Pappy's Smoke House 3106 Olive Street
          Saint Louis MO 63103 
          Phone: 314-535-4340
          Fax: 314-535-4337
          Hours: M-F 11-7 or 8 (we sell out around then)
          Week-ends 11-around 4 (we sell out fast on week-ends)



Review: Legends of Texas BBQ 

I spend a bunch of time on the internet.  Heck, I'm a blogger and "IT professional" so it's almost an occupational hazard.  But a lot of the time online is spent reading about and researching BBQ and Beer.  As a result, I'm not much on cook books.  Most of the info in just about any cookbook can be found at any one of a number of BBQ forums, websites etc.

Nonetheless, I received "Legends of Texas BBQ" as a gift and once I began reading it I found that I couldn't put it down.  This wasn't really as much about the recipes although there are plenty.  Instead, I found myself drawn to the narrative of the history of Texas BBQ.  The stories about the German immigrants and tradition of slow smoking meats and sausages in the Texas hill country were fascinating.  I enjoyed the tales of meat counters serving up fresh BBQ on butcher's paper to ranchers, roughnecks and laborers.  And I especially enjoyed the photography.  The book is full of black and white photos of legendary pit masters, BBQ stands, and people eating BBQ at a variety of places.

While I haven't tried many of the recipes in the book, I would highly recommend this for anyone who has an interest in the history of this past time and specifically Texas BBQ.  In fact, I'd love to use this book as a roadmap for an attempt to eat my way across Texas.



Restaurant Review - Masterpiece BBQ

Recently a co-worker and I hit a new BBQ restaurant for lunch.  Given the options of a pancake place or BBQ, the choice was easy enough.  I was encouraged when I spotted a Southern Pride towable cooker in the parking lot upon our arrival and caught a whiff of hickory smoke coming from the building.

The restaurant is called Masterpiece BBQ.  They have 3 locations and an apparently thriving catering business in the St. Louis area.  I was hopeful when I entered the building.  The atmosphere was consistent with most BBQ restaurants that are expanding into multiple locations these days.  Red checkered tablecloths, corrugated tin on the walls, and lots of pig related paraphernalia scattered about the place.

The menu was clearly displayed on a large board at the front counter, so I ordered up a two meat platter (pork & brisket) with garlic cheese bread and BBQ beans.  And no BBQ meal is complete without sweet tea.  However, this is where it began to go south for me.  As I paid for my lunch I looked up in time to see one of the food prep employees dip a glob of saucey meat onto a slice of white bread, followed by a second dip of thinly sliced brisket out of a vat of au jus.  I let out an audible groan before I could help myself and a second one when a ladle of thick brown KC style sauce was poured over the whole mess.

All my hopes were dashed by the time the plate arrived at my table, but I dug in and tried the BBQ.  The flavor of the brisket was okay but frankly with the pork being pre-sauced and then ladeled with the sweet KC sauce, it was hard to taste anything but the sauce.  The BBQ beans were really tasty as were the green beans that my co-worker had as a side dish.  The garlic cheese bread was a disappointment however.  It was nothing more than a slice of cheese over a piece of thick white bread.  It was "toasted" just long enough for the cheese to get soft, but I certainly wouldn't call it toasted.

BBQ is always better than pancakes, but I probably won't eat there again.  Here's my report card for Masterpiece BBQ.

  • BBQ - C

  • Side Dishes - C

  • Atmosphere - B

  • Value - B

  • Overall - C


Review - 17th Street BBQ

I went to college within spitting distance of the original 17th Street BBQ restaurant and never ate there.  It's funny that 25 years later they have opened a restaurant roughly the same distance away from my home.  Today I finally found a way to convince my family to eat there for lunch.

17th Street BBQ is owned by Mike Mills.  Mike is called "The Legend" in BBQ competition circles.  His competition BBQ team, Apple City BBQ, has won a number of Memphis-in-May titles.  Memphis-in-May is the Superbowl of BBQ competitions.  He's been featured in Gourmet magazine and his BBQ is served at Memphis Championship BBQ in Las Vegas.  This is a pit master that knows what he's doing for sure.

The building that they've occupied has been several different restaurants, including a previous BBQ purveyor.  What struck me when I entered the place is that they have completely redone the inside.  There are walls where there weren't before and they've given the place a very traditional feel.  I liked the atmosphere right away.  The only thing that I found odd was the choice of classic rock music in the background.  I don't think I've ever eaten BBQ while listening to Pat Benetar signing "Hit me with your best shot".

17th Street does BBQ in the Tennessee/Memphis style.  Their original sauce is vinegar based and they serve "chow" (a sweet slaw) on their sandwiches.  This is right up my alley in terms of personal preferences and I have to say that they did a nice job with the BBQ.

The side dishes were also very traditional and very tasty.  I had creamed corn and baked beans with my BBQ pork sandwich.  Both sides had a "down-home" quality that I enjoyed very much.  And no BBQ meal would be complete without sweet iced tea.  My only real complaint is that I felt that their prices were a bit high.

Here's my report card for 17th Street BBQ:

  • BBQ - A
  • Side Dishes - A
  • Atmosphere - B
  • Value - C+
  • Overall - B+

I enjoyed my meal and would recommend 17th Street if you find yourself near one of their locations.


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