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Sep 29, 2012 12:44 PM

Report - Kangaroo Boxing Club

I first visited KBC six weeks ago, soon after it opened. KBC is a food truck turned sit-down restaurant, a transition that's tough to get just right. Where it counts though, KBC nailed it. Let's start with the bar, stocked with a few solid beer selections (bottles and cans, no draft) and possibly a cocktail list. (The City Paper tipped me off to one of their cocktails--a refreshing bourbon, citrus, and brown sugar concoction called Grandpa's Revenge--but I'm not sure what else they offer). The bartender was a bit abrasive, as good bartenders should be. It's refreshing not to be sucked-up to in this town. Or maybe it's only refreshing until it isn't. Either way, the best bar's best feature was its prices. $7.27 for a quality cocktail? I'll have three, thanks. And I did.

Pleasant as it is, the bar isn't meant to be KBC's main attraction. The menu (here) is obviously a lot more than you'd find at any food truck, which means the kitchen had to try new things. As far as I can tell, nearly everything worked. We did entrees and sides, with a Meat Plate for dessert. (They have real desserts, which I've heard are real good. But meat seemed like as good a palate cleanser as any). One friend had the burger, which can't be ordered medium, rare, etc.--they do Pink and Brown. I had the BBQ pork with sides of Collard Greens and BBQ Baked Beans, and my friend had the pork covered in ham and bacon (!) with the Jimmycakes and Mac & Cheese.

The burger was perfectly cooked and is highly recommended if, for some reason, you've chosen to eat at a BBQ place but not eat BBQ. The pork, as you'd expect, was very good too. Not the best I've had, but high on the list and great for DC. (If you like sauce with yours, the BBQ sauces at KBC are excellent. A friend actually did an impromptu tasting of all the sauces and proclaimed them all terrific). The real stars of the menu though, the things I haven't stopped thinking about for a week, are the sides. The Collard Greens with apple cider vinegar and siracha were a perfect blend of sweet and savory, with a nice kick from the hot sauce. The BBQ Beans with pulled pork were easily the best version I've ever had; I forced myself to share, but that gesture now haunts me. The Jimmycakes (cornmeal pancakes with maple syrup) were solid too, but the Mac & Cheese, despite having a lot of stuff in it, was a bit bland. Shell pasta? Great idea, but the dish needed more something (sea salt? sharp cheese? unclear). All in all, some very tasty food.

Of course, we all have to pay our way, and price matters. Here's another place where KBC really stands out. The burger and BBQ sandwiches (pork, beef, or chicken) are 8 or 9 bucks, with slaw and a side. For another two bucks, you can have a Platter with more meat and two really large sides. The Platter was all I could eat, and I can eat. The Meat Board, at ten bucks, was a reasonable way to try out everything else on the menu. The fixings that came with it (pickled collard stems--weird--and blueberry habanero salsa) were only OK. But the Merguez (lamb sausage) was amazing. I'd gladly settle for a plate of it with more on the side. The Pulled Chicken with Chocolate BBQ Sauce was perfectly cooked and the sauce was interesting, sort of Southern mole. I'd try it again on a bun.

KBC is a tiny place, with maybe seven small tables and a counter or two with stools for perchers. There are a handful of tables outside as well, which is a nice option for the heat-resistant. I don't think they take reservations, but a place like this doesn't have to. It may get crowded, but the cheap (good) drinks and bar space should entertain the overflow. I expect there will be crowds at times, and minor hiccups as the owners and staff learn the ropes of restaurant without wheels. But KBC already offers something hard to find in this town, great food at a fair price. I hope they stick to that formula.

If anyone else has been to KBC, I'd be interested to hear your take on it. The place isn't perfect by any stretch, but I'd definitely recommend checking it out.


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  1. Yeah, I like KBC, esp. since it's pretty close by. I do have to say though, that the last time I went there it seemed to have been not quite as good (pulled pork was a little "soggy", jimmycakes were a a little burnt). My favorites include the pulled pork and the pastrami. Also not a big fan of their mac n cheese - a little too intense and runny. I have to disagree about the burger though. I have only had it once, but was not a big fan. Might have been because I got the one with pastrami in it, but it was dry and uninspired.

    Overall though, good food at good prices.

    1. I've been to KBC a couple times now... once on the second night they were open, and again just last week. And neither time disappointed. I've been a fan of their pulled pork for a while now, which I used to get from the Porc truck a couple times a month when I worked over near L'enfant. The pulled porc at the restaurant definitely did not disappoint. I also love a bbq place that let's the flavor of their meat stand on its own, instead of smothering it with bbq sauce. This meat does just that (and none of the four bbq sauces on the table disappoint).

      Meat-wise, I've also had that pastrami, which was actually quite amazing (and I'm damn picky when it comes to my pastrami. It was fatty, smoky, deliciousness).

      As for the sides, I've definitely enjoyed the collards and baked beans (though miss the beans with merguez that they had on the truck... at kbc, there's pork in the beans, but they're still great), Unfortunately, the mac n cheese was a huge miss in my book, and I LOVE mac n cheese. I'm all for adding some bleu cheese into the cheddar sauce - in fact, I do that in my homemade mac n cheese - but it's really all I tasted. I tried it both times (hoping that maybe they adjusted the recipe a bit, but unfortunately, no. Maybe some people like this, but I want that cheddar-y flavor with perhaps a hint of bleu, not the other way around.

      The food is tasty, the portions are large, and the prices are great. Not the best bbq I've ever had, but definitely toward the top of my list for bbq in dc.

      1 Reply
      1. re: eiknarf

        Seems like we all agree on the Mac & Cheese. Luckily, the other sides are good enough to compensate for that one miss.

      2. I tried out the Weekend Brunch at KBC and was genuinely thrilled with the Aporcalypse: A hefty patty combining pulled pork, ground pork, bacon, and ham. The flavor was gorgeous with a deep smoke hit, crispy exterior, and juicy interior. The kind of All-American cooking with flair that I though was nonexistent in DC. I will have dreams about this.

        I declined the cheese and maple syrup it normally comes with. Although it was served as a sandwich with a fried egg on top, I didn't eat it as a sandwich, wanting mostly to experience the porky goodness.

        Along with it came a small side of overly-tangy and overly-crunchy slaw. I also got to choose a larger side, and I got the fresh fruit cup which was ok. In addition, for $2 I added a side of their bacon pastrami gravy, which is not as delicious as it sounds.

        I think the Aporkalpyse appears on the regular menu as well. I'll be back.