Mike Love's BBQ
- Davwud Oct 1, 2006 12:26 AM
So today my wife (From Memphis I might add) made our way up to Mike Love's BBQ in Barrie for lunch based on his reply in another post.
We met Mike and my wife immediately set to work. She having participated in the much vaunted "Memphis in May BBQ Festival", considers herself quite the expert. So she asks to see the smoker and kitchen which Mike graciously give her/us the tour. We sat and talked BBQ for a little bit while he greeted other customers and got our food ready.
We had the sampler plate. Ribs (Wet), brisket (Chopped and sauced), pulled pork (Carolina style) and chicken (Hind quarter). His sauce is excellent (KC Style). His ribs were tender and good flavour. The brisket and PP were very most and had great sauces. His chicken was also great. My wife ranked them ribs first, chicken, brisket, PP.
The sides of potato salad and beans were also first rate. My wife gave Phil's the thumbs up and said Mike's was even better.
I had only two complaints. First off, I much prefer side ribs over back. Secondly I like my bbq a little smokier that it was. Mike had explained that one of the biggest complaints he got early on was it was too smoky. He has to appeal to the masses so has dialed it back a bit.
After we finished we talked shop again for a while.
All in all, it was a great experience and we plan on going back. Mike said he's gonna start doing beef ribs shortly and they're his specialty. I can't wait.
My wife even plans on inviting a guy she works with from KC to come with us.
Check him out.
Prices seemed fine. Not cheap like some of the southern places but you can get stuffed and not limp out of there.
We had the sampler platter and a bottle of pop each and it was around $40. A bit more than you'd normally spend for lunch however we wanted to try everything. For dinner, it'd be great.
I am definitely down with the beef ribs addition. We cooked up a few racks of beef ribs from the Stuart Carroll at the Farmers Market for the cottage over the weekend, and they came out phenomenal. On top of that, they're cheaper and meatier than their pork counterparts. Beef ribs for life!
Can I just mention how pissed off I am right now with Mike Love's BBQ?!!! Curious to see for myself if their claim to having great bbq was indeed true, I called on Wednesday to confirm they would be opened today for lunch and the woman said they would be from 12:00 to 9:00 so we drove through 2.5 hrs of horrible cottage traffic to arrive and find it CLOSED at 1pm. Their hours are posted on the door. They're supposed to be opened at 12. The woman on the phone said they would be opened. I stood outside their darken restaurant with the closed sign on the door and called their number on my cell phone and the recording said they were opened on Saturdays. So where the heck were they? And why was no notice posted if there was a change today? I have never been so royally pissed. It's a bit hard to confirm if your bbq is any decent if you're not opened for anyone to sample it and judge for themselves. I will not make another trip there. I'm heading back to Camp 31 where I'm guaranteed a meal at the very least and the bonus being it's great bbq.
I'm going to Barrie for a funeral on Thursday, so of course, I called Mike Love's to see when they will be open. The lady promised me that they would be open 11:30 til 8 pm. I told her about fickle's complaint and after much hesitation and various stories, she said that on Saturdays they are for sure open from 4 til 9. So I suggested that she change her answering machine message to reflect this. I also told her that she had lost a customer, to which she replied that people shouldn't judge them based on that one situation. I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to go there, but since I'll be exactly one minute away at the funeral home, it seems worth checking out.
re: Food Tourist
If I had come from more than a few minutes away, I would want a coherent explanation and a guarantee that it was a one time aberration. If I had driven from Toronto, I wouldn't even ask for an explanation. I'd be gone forever and would be as eager as fickle to pass the word around.
I know, it's not like she said they were closed for a family crisis or something...she seemed to think that "he" might open at 12:30 on Saturdays before changing her mind to 4:00. The SAME thing happened to me on Sunday at Barrio on Queen East...went all the way across the city for brunch to find it closed with no explanation on the door/window. Terrible! Since most brunch places don't take reservations, I didn't even think of calling ahead.
Ate dinner at Mike Love's last night...we were the only customers there. I really liked the chicken. Not smoky, but still tender and quite tasty. There, I said something complimentary. The Simpson beer on tap was also good.
I feel too guilty to tell you all the negative stuff, because the owners looked unhappy the whole time we were there.
The sauce is laced with plenty of cinnamon. I don't enjoy a lack of balance in flavour. It was automatically mixed into the beef brisket, with no option to have the beef or pork served plain. Ribs were fine, but nowhere near as good as Phil's in Toronto. Vinegar-overpowered pulled pork was, as with all other Ontario and Western NY 'cue places, dry and uninspired. Nothing was smoky-tasting. Well, maybe the ribs had a tiny whiff of smoke.
Excellent fries (couldn't tell if they were fresh or frozen), creamy 'firecracker' potato salad (which isn't really spicy, but is still decent), and cumin-infused baked beans were all quite tasty. Sides are probably their best asset. Ignore the bun.
Don't make a special trip to Barrie if you love barbecue.
I live in Barrie and love Mike Love's. But, I'm so tired of them not being open during posted hours, or closed for private functions, that I've given up. The straw that broke the camel's back for me was the evening I walked in and Mike's wife told me that since they had a private party coming in later, I couldn't eat-in, but could have take-out. (Nothing was posted on the door to say "closed for private function".) I said that was fine and placed a take out order. I left to run a quick errand and went back to the restaurant to wait for my order. When I walked in, I was told that they couldn't make my order because they needed all the food for the private function. I didn't get angry, but I conciously decided that was the last time I would set foot in there. Too bad. The food, as I remember it was great.