Red Rock BBQ (Ypsilanti)
The AA Observer gave a big write-up to this new place in downtown Ypsilanti: Red Rock BBQ. Intrigued, I went for lunch yesterday. A gorgeous rehab of a 19th-century brick building, with a large attractive bar at its center. Good news for Ypsi & Ypsi at night.
I wish I could say that I liked the food as much.
Tried the chicken (very plain, couldn't taste any "smoked" notes) and the brisket (ehh). There are four sauces on the table. I did like the mustardy sauce, but the others left me cold.
As for sides, mac 'n cheese--very good. I enjoyed the thick, meaty cowboy beans (pintos). Slaw was lukewarm (not refreshing).
Not bad, but kinda forgettable especially when there are very good options in the vicinity (Satchel's, Ron's Roadside BBQ). Went back and read the Observer review and it was kind of tepid about the food (except the ribs).
If I wanted to go out for drinks & meat in Ypsi at night, I would pick the Wurst Bar.
We had a pretty good experience at Red Rock. The highlights where the ribs followed by the pulled pork. Thought the brisket was just ok. My daughter, who is a rib maniac, thought it was some of the best she has had. The sides where hit and miss. Liked the beans, mac & cheese, but was not a fan of the coleslaw. I tend to mix sauces, and I found a mixture I really liked, but now I don't remember what it was. Really the highlight was the service. We had a great waitress which made the meal that much more enjoyable. We plan to go back.
I've not tried Red Rock-- yet. (I will, I will, I promise.) But I have been to Ron's three times. I wanted to love it and kept giving it a chance. It is properly funky, but the food does not meet expectations. (That was polite, don't you think?) And I've been to Satchel's. It is not perfect. The location is strange. All the chairs match. A true BBQ joint should have mismatched chairs. But the food is the real deal. The house sauce suits me just fine, thank you. Pulled pork, ribs, brisket-- all smell of smoke and taste sinfully good. The sides are okay, not drive across town for, but perfectly acceptable. There is a hint of dill in the potato salad which is nice and the slaw is tasty without distracting from the meat. Prices are reasonable, too.
I would have to agree with the unimpressive BBQ at Red Rock. I’m always on the hunt for some good BBQ having spent a fair amount of time in KC and the Carolinas. I tried ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and burn ends. I though the ribs were the best out of what I had, but probably about on par with Blue Tractor’s smoked ribs (of which I’m not that big a fan). Everything was a little drier than I would have liked and didn’t quite have enough smoke to it. I thought the layer of rub on the ribs was a little too heavy. I liked their Carolina gold sauce, but I like any Carolina gold sauce. Their sweet and hot sauce was less sweet than I expected (which is a good thing), so that was my second favorite sauce. I don’t really consider North Carolina vinegar sauce to be a sauce but more of brine, it all pretty much tastes like vinegar and crushed red pepper to me. They do have well thought out beer selection and it’s still a little early on to make a final judgement.
As far as other BBQ joints go, I think Satchel’s is the best around Ann Arbor. I really like Ron’s Roadside but I wish he would take it easy on the sauce (and/or offer some other sauces). I need to get up to Boogie Woogie one of these days.
I also thought Red Rock was fairly mediocre. The interior is fairly well done, it would be a nice place to go to have some beers and have some snacks, but not somewhere I'd go if I'm in the mood for bbq.
The brisket was dry and fairly tough, probably due to the fact that they aren't turning it over very quickly. That is the rub when it comes to brisket - it dries out so quickly.
The pulled pork was better, fairly smoky and some nominal bits of bark (why is so hard for bbq places up here to include some bark in the pulled pork?!). I liked the eastern carolina vinegar sauce, but the meat was tender enough to where it didn't need much sauce.
They were out of burnt ends when I went there, which was a major disappointment.
All in all though, I am still in search of a good bbq place in the area. I thought Satchel's ribs were very good, but their pulled pork lacked any signs of smoke or bark. I still need to make it to Ron's Roadside and Boogie Woogie up in Pinckney.
Seems like we had very different experiences.
I personally have heard nothing but bad reviews for Satchel's. I like Ron's ok, but the quality can be a bit inconsistent. I'm glad Red Rock is in town and hope to give them another shot this weekend or the next.