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Jan 22, 2011 11:44 AM

rub bbq pub - detroit

no threads on this place so i will start one.

i tried rub bbq pub for the first time at lunch yesterday. four of us met at slow's. i suggested to my customer that we get ther by 11:30 to beat the lunch rush. i walked into slow's at 11:25 only to be greeted by a 45 minute wait. i was a bit shocked, but it was a friday and the auto show has has brought more people downtown this week, so i undertood. but knowing the pace of slow's (mind numbingly slow at times), and the chance that the wait could easily stretch to 60-75 minutes, with not much room to stand and wait, we bailed and mulled over our options. roma cafe (we go there all the time), the d.a.c. (been there three time the past two weeks), red smoke bbq (my colleague went recently and was very underwhelmed). since we were thinking bbq, i suggested we try rub. none of us had ever been.

rub has been open since last spring/summer. it is located in grand circus park on adams just west of woodward (same street as chelli's, just the other side of woodward). i parked on the street a block away. metered parkin only gives you an hour max (to get more people into the city, maybe the city should be more customer friendly and expand the meter times and relax the meter maid militia) and i only had $0.50 in quarters, so i took a chance. i noticed that i parked behind a dark sedan with a ubiquitous "official police business" sign on the driver's window, so i figured that i would be ok.

rub has a wall of windows that brings in lots of natural light. numerous flat screens and whimsical/kitchey texas/local/bbq decor. when you walk in, the place smells like smoke, which is a good sign. tables and booths on the left and a bar area with high tops on the right. after a prompt and friendly greeting and we were ushered to a high top in the bar area.

long bar with an impressive 30+ taps and 100+ plus bottles. nice selection with a dozen or so michigan beers on draught. typical bbq fare: shoulder (tennessee style - curious?), brisket, ribs, chicken, sausage, etc. i was very close to getting a platter to sample the shoulder, brisket, ribs, and two sides, but i opted for just a sandwich since i had dinner plans. two of us opted for pulled pork ("the nugent") and two chose brisket ("the kaline"). props for cool sandwich names including the harwell, verlander, kid rock, and slim shady. they also have a 5lb burrito on the menu. the wall of fame page has pictures of 10 people that have downed it for a t-shirt. will man vs. food be here soon?

sandwiches are served on texas toast or brioche (we all took the toast) and come with fries and slaw. since the place is called rub, they put the plates on the serving tray and then crop dust the whole tray with their rub. looked like emeril had gone "bam" crazy.

the pork is pulled, not chopped, and had a visible smoke ring. i tried a bit plain and it was tender with a good chew and a subtle smokey flavor. not the best i have had (disclosure - i smoked a really good half shoulder last sunday at home), but good. the quantity was just a touch less than i was expecting, maybe a quarter pound (must be spoiled by the huge sandwiches that lazy bones dishes out). slaw was bland, but improved with a shot of bby sauce. fries were crisp and good. my companions liked their brisket sandwiches.

the table had a six pack of sauces, all made in-house:

kansas city - a basic tomato based sauce: ok
texas - spicy: decent (used it for my fries)
detroit - somewhere between kc and texas with some texture: good (used it on my sandwich)
carolina - mustard base: i like mustard bq sauce, but did not like this one
apple - tomato based with chunks of apple in it: did not like this one either
#6 - can't remember what it was

over all, the service was friendly and capable and the food was good. not as good as lazy bones or lockharts, but better than red smoke (per my colleague) and penny black. i look forward to going back and trying some new things and hitting the beer selection.

bonus - no parking ticket. and the "offical police business" car was still there.

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  1. Great write-up, xman887 ! I really don't have much patience for bad parking situations and persistent panhandlers...not to mention some of the "celebrities" for whom the dishes are named; but, maybe I'll give Rub a try. How are the beans?

    1. ***I wrote this in a laundromat without web access, so there are some redundancies to xman887’s original post. Since I’m too lazy to rewrite mine, please consider those portions as affirmations and also as verification that Rub’s Warren location is like Rub’s Detroit location.***


      Based on xman887’s recommendation, I’d long planned to hit Rub Barbecue in Detroit, but it took me so long that they had built one near me in the ‘burbs, before I finally got around to experiencing Rub. Last week I went with eleven people and all eleven were satisfied. What are the odds! I should also comment that in just its second week in Warren (12Mile & Mound SE corner) Rub was packed for Tuesday lunch.

      The menu and décor are very well thought out. It’s all design-school-cute Motor City pride stuff. The kitchen and floor staff were sucking wind dealing with typical start-up hiccups but I was cool with their performance, and the manager Brandon was going ALL-OUT to make sure everyone was happy. The bar would be a great place to watch a game, BTW.

      The sides were adequate, though none that I tried warrant special recognition. The sandwich buns were good and the selection of six sauces ensured at least one hit for any given individual. With perhaps a subliminal nod to JanPrimus, I ordered the pulled pork + uncured smoked ham + bacon, piggy Hat Trick. My mouth appreciated it more than did my gut or circulatory system, and really, pulled pork alone would have been better. Next time I’m going for the good looking brisket.

      Rub has a Southern Pride smoker (same equipment maker as Clarkston’s Union Woodshop). I get the impression that the entrepreneur (I don’t know if I can say “Pit Master”) got instructions for barbecuing from the regional Southern Pride equipment rep, and simply is following them without trying to do too much else. That’s fine as far as I’m concerned. Get generic cuts of meat, don’t inject them with spiced HFCS crap and don’t get too fancy with clover honey curry habanero rub stuffs. Just melt the collagen without nuke’ing the meat, and also get at least a little smoke ring and bark going. That’s all I ask.

      I don’t promote the driving of long distances to Rub for experiencing "competition-level" offerings. But, if you live in Warren, Sterling/Madison Hts., Centerline or Hazel Park, and have a hankerin’ for barbecue, you’ll be satisfied hanging out at Rub.

      1 Reply
      1. re: VTB

        My husband, berkleygary, was downtown Friday (oh, alright at Occupy Detroit) and brought home a small taste of rub...I thought it was good. Burnt ends nicely chewy, sauce a little sweet, but very solid. I really liked the mac and cheese (and this isn't always my favorite.) I don't care for super creamy mac...this had a really nice crust, just a little chewy -- not like soup -- which means it was really baked, my pref. In all, we liked it.