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May 6, 2009 10:17 PM

So, Kirks BBQ in Birmingham, MI? Um, pricey!

Now, normally I'd start with how the food was, but doggone it, I've got to start here. Bring your full wallet, and they'll be more than happy to make sure it's a lot lighter when you leave. That's not to say that they'll make sure your stomach is, that'll be extra, thank you. I guess that since they're in Birmingham, they think that anything they sell is automatically high end, and therefore should have a high end price to go along with it. I disagree.

I stopped in today for the first time, as I'd been wanting to try it, and ordered the usual baseline purchase for any BBQ joint I try for the first time: the BBQ pulled pork sandwich. It was $7.99, plus tax, bringing it up to $8.47. It came with pulled pork, which had been dipped or cooked in BBQ sauce, and was served on a kaiser roll, along with all the oxygen you could breathe! No, that's not necessarily fair (yes, I tend to be smarmy), since they did provide me with a glass of water at no charge, which I appreciated. But still: it wasn't served with any cole slaw on top, no pickles, nothing impressive at all. It was BBQ meat on an unassuming bun, and for $8.50, I'd expect a bit more...heck, just about *anything* more.

The sandwich was rather small, and I kid you not, when I was done, I could have *easily* eaten another one, at another $8.50. Dinky, or at least, dinky when compared to some of the certainly better offerings I could get at Slows or Lazybones or the same price, or even cheaper, with more stuff like a side dish or cole slaw topping or something like that! When I've eaten The Reason at Slows or Deni's pulled pork sandwich at Lazybones, there's no *way* I could reasonably think about putting down another one. They may be close to $8, too, but at least they're filling, and they offer more than this did.

I must say that the pulled pork and sauce were, in fact, rather tasty. I enjoyed it for what it was, which is to say, "a very expensive snack". The bun was nothing of consequence, but served its purpose.

The whole menu, though, just screams "We're soaking you!" to me, though. $13 plus tax for 8 bones of ribs with, again (!), nothing else included. Side item prices were quite high. Meals were priced to the point where, when I actually thought about it, a full service place like Oxford Inn appealed far more, since when I order a half slab of wonderful ribs from there, not only do I get the ribs, but a choice of potato, soup or salad, bread, a little bit of fruit, and it's the same price as Kirks half slab meal, only at Oxford you get little things like actual plates and such!

Rubber meets the road time, here: Kirks is less than 1/4 mile from Falaffel King, which offers an absolutely kick-tail chicken shawarma sandwich for almost *half* the price of the sandwich I had today. And once again: I've *never* eaten a sandwich from FK and thought, "Man, that was dinky...I could honestly eat another one of those..." It's always good, and it's $4.19 plus tax, or a magical $4.44. Winner. Modern Food and Spirits sells their sizable shrimp salad sandwich with accoutrements (amongst other delectable sandwiches) for $8, too. Another winner. Weekday Cafe's sandwiches are usually no more than $6, and they're fabulous, too! *All* of these sandwiches will fill me up, and they're very high in quality and taste.

It's nice that Kirks is optimistic, and proud of their fare. But it's a bare bones (no pun intended, honest!) place, and they're charging high end prices for food which when compared even to other places in their local area, leaves them looking more than just a tad bit greedy in this economy.

The sandwich I ate today, based on taste and size, was worth about half of what I paid. It was small, but tasty, and quite expensive, consideringwhat it didn't come with. Unless they start offering some major promotions, coupons, or change the menu and/or prices to be more reasonable (i.e. lower the sandwich price, or include a couple of sides at $8), I won't go back. If I want a BBQ pulled pork sandwich, I'll just hold out for one of the other two BBQ places mentioned, especially since, in all fairness, they're better sandwiches, too.

Dang...and I really wanted to like it better than I do, too. I drive by it all the time.


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  1. Thanks for taking the bullet, boagman.

    I'm like you as I drive by that place every day and kept thinking about stopping for a takeout menu. You saved me the trouble, but I wish they WERE worth a stop.

    1. Boagman, excellent post. Sad, but this is the kind of info 'hounders need in these trying times. I echo Coney's thoughts about saving us the trouble. Has anyonr been to La Dolce Vita on Woodward in Detroit?

      1 Reply
      1. re: schaf1

        I have been to LDV a number of times - always in the summer and for brunch. They have bottomless bloody marys/mimosa's at brunch. Brunch is outside at a great patio that somehow shields you completely from the fact that you are sitting along Woodward. Unfortunately, the atmosphere was better than the food - which isn't to say the food was bad - just unremarkable. However, the Il Posto chef came over to LDV recently and I am looking forward to seeing if there are any changes in food quality. I will be happy to report back after my first patio brunch of the year!

      2. A few weeks ago I was jones'ing for a burnt ends sandwich ... and decided to
        give Kirk's a try. They don't offer burnt ends, but suggested their rib-tips

        It was more than I could eat for $8+; but the no-sides matter was a bit of an
        unwelcome surprise. Frankly; the sauce on the their rib-tip sandwich just
        didn't "do it" for me.

        3 Replies
        1. re: rainsux

          See, I thought that the sauce and the actual meat were pretty good, but the sauce certainly wasn't in the realm of what's offered at, say, Slows or Lazybones. But they're just plain charging *way* too much for way too little. It's not even upper-scale tasted rather "normal" to me.

          I just feel the need to differentiate between not liking the food and the fact that they're charging far too much for it. After I posted here, I checked Urban Spoon (no Kirk's reviews) and Yelp, and the two reviews on Yelp were quite unkind, almost unfairly so, I thought.

          For me, the biggest thing is that a *better* sandwich (albeit completely different), which also happens to be *bigger* than Kirk's, is available less than 1/4 mile away at Falaffel King, for basically *half* the price. I can only chalk it up to hubris, I guess.

          I have to concur with at least a couple of the posts I've seen: I doubt that Kirk's is going to last too long with this business model.

          1. re: boagman

            I love me some Boagman posts... :-)

            1. re: GrueLurks

              Here here. I know I've been turned on to a couple places because of him.

        2. The original comment has been removed