East Bay BBQ thoughts
- pm Jun 8, 2006 11:25 PM
I think I'm going on hiatus from BBQ for awhile. I've been suffering cravings for awhile and sadly, am not completely satiated, yet feeling so swollen from countless tens of thousands of sodium milligrams.
Flints: I've been twice to the redux on Shattuck. The first time, it was so promising. Eager clerk, the food was good (early in the day, not quite smoked enough). After a few more attempts during hours they originally had posted as open (and weren't), I hit them open again over a week ago. My meal was marginal. My ribs were so chewy to be nearly inedible in parts, and the sliced beef was so fatty to be unpleasant in parts. I actually trimmed big globs of fat out. I'm in no rush to return.
KC: I went for the first time yesterday. A sea of sauce. I never thought about how their sauce came, but since no one asked, I figured it would be in a cup, on the side, no choice of "heat." My ribs and beef came in a sea of red - to the point of really unpleasant. The beef was lean - too lean, but would have been great in a sandwich. The quantity was quite generous. The ribs were respectable. Oh, did I mention how much sauce was glooped over everything? I thought the food was ok, but remained unsatisfied when done eating.
Bo's: 2 visits in the past few months. By far, my favorite. This is not to say it is perfect, but overall, I thought the meat was the best. The only real criticism was on a very late visit, the beef was way too dry.
Lao/Thai Kitchen: It was perfectly not bad. I guess I have high expectations every time I read something that gives me hope of eternal BBQ nirvana.
T-Rex - I haven't yet set foot in there, but smell their smoker every morning. From recent reports, I think I'll check it out soon.
Jones BBQ (El Sobrante) - Why I returned for a second visit, I don't know, except he's a nice guy, and I thought the first visit's food could be attributable to a new location. The ribs reminded me of boiled meat with sauce.
Has anyone been to Doug's recently? I haven't been there for years. I also haven't been to E&J in a long time - was tempted to go in (San Pablo/University) but didn't.
OK, my first rule of BBQ ... if you have to write it on your hand ... ALWAYS say ... first thing out of your mouth ... "I'd like the sauce on the side".
I was quite unhappy until I started doing this. I cannot imagine eating KC's without controlling the sauce. Those ribs are outstanding on their own.
The sauce at T-Rex doesn't do a thing for the Q. Also, the brisket doesn't need that horseradish sauce ... on the side ... on the side. Also, if you ask T-Rex, they will give you a taste of both sauces with your order. If you don't like a fatty brisket, you won't like it at T-Rex.
Should you ever get back into the East Bay BBQ crawl, you might like Gracies in Vallejo. I've only tried the brisket, but it is very lean and full of smoke. Supposedly they have great baby back ribs, but I haven't tried them yet.
Haven't tried Doug's yet or Chef Edwards. Like you, it has been ages since I tried Everett & Jones.
Repeat after me ... sauce on the side.
Well, there's fatty brisket, and there are giant globs of fat that make you want to gag. I trust T-Rex isn't like that. I will remember your rule - but it never occurred to me to ask for sauce on the side because I never had such a pool. However, and maybe that is why I like Bo's (come to think of it) is that the meat stands on its own.
Sauce on the side. Sauce on the side.
If you don't trust yourself to remember to ask for the sauce on the side, then make sure you're at Memphis Minnie's (SF) or Stim's (Santa Rosa) where that's how they serve the sauce with their very good bbq. "Everyone" knows of MM; Stim's is authentic Texas-type (I read here by a Texan).
As requested, your report on Doug's:
I went to Doug's about two months ago. It's certainly not the Promised Land of Q, but it was fine. I had the beef ribs, which were fatty, but they're beef ribs. No real smoke to the taste. I remember liking the sauce.
My overall impression upon finishing my food--in my car, since you really can't eat there--was "Hey, not bad. Now where's a good place?"
That said, since people's taste in Q varies so drastically, I find other folks' opinions are best used as WARNING SIGNS. In other words, if somebody tells me a place really sucks, I'm willing to trust that. But many times somebody else's "acceptable" ends up being my "great".
In Texas you never have to ask for sauce on the side, it's just the normal thing. The "Pitt-Bosses" there are proud of their Q first, sauce second and want you to taste the meat first. Many times there's just no need to slather it in anything.
Thanks for reminding me of Bobbie's. I went to their San Pablo "back door" location several times and always liked the quality and huge portions of their brisket. The brisket "sandwich" was at least two meals worth of meat. I'll have to remember to stop at the current location when I'm out that way.
I was @ Bobby's right after it opened @ Hilltop. I never returned. Maybe it was an off day, but it was off enough that I never returned. I'm sure the quantity of food was substantial, but as I recall (and it is some time ago), it didn't taste liked smoked meat, it tasted like cooked meat with sauce.
re: Robert Lauriston
I also think Bobby's "barbecue" is not worth returning for but maybe was an off day, like so many of the bbq places have.
There jambalaya and gumbo, on the other hand, were worth returning for. Definitely made by an experienced hand, with a good, dark roux base for the gumbo.
I tried Doug's pork ribs (the only kind of BBQ I care about) once, seemed like they knew what they were doing but but it wasn't a style I favor.
"KC: I went for the first time yesterday. A sea of sauce. I never thought about how their sauce came, but since no one asked, I figured it would be in a cup, on the side, no choice of "heat." My ribs and beef came in a sea of red - to the point of really unpleasant."
Since I just about never eat bbq anywhere else, never thought that was much sauce. I don't recall it being any more that E&J when I went there a couple times when KC was closed. There are mild and hot sauces and maybe a sweet one too. Don't know if it's the same as mild. You were lucky to get so much sauce! :)
You might try the baby backs at Cafe Rouge. I'm not baby back baby, but the ones I had at the 4th St. Jazz festival were outstanding and the sauce, while sparse was more than flavorful enough.
Jodie's of Solano fried chicken fame, also does ribs with a distinctive sauce reduced from vegetables with no tomato. I don't remember the ribs, as it's been a long time, but the sauce ...