Barbecue


Bone Daddy’s is a restaurant that’s easy to miss in an evaluation. It’s a barbecue restaurant in Texas, but their best barbecue may be their smoked chicken wings. It’s a restaurant with a largely female staff dressed in a revealing style: short skirts, tight leather vests. The staff is professional in my experience, very much so. Asking staff what is good here won’t hurt you a bit.

img_6859

I did a bit more than that. I asked waiters in restaurants nearby. They pointed out the strengths of the food aren’t in the traditional sliced brisket, but in other dishes, like their stuffed jalapenos and their wings. On one of the days I showed, the chopped brisket was better than the sliced. Ask staff what is good here.

Sliced brisket sandwich. Not bad, but other meats are better here.

Sliced brisket sandwich. Not bad, but other meats are better here.

Their chopped brisket was more flavorful than their sliced.

Their chopped brisket was more flavorful than their sliced.

The stuffed jalapenos are excellent, with BBQ chicken and cheese.

The stuffed jalapenos are excellent, with BBQ chicken and cheese.

The smoked wings are the "must order" here, richly smoked and delicious.

The smoked wings are the “must order” here, richly smoked and delicious.

This is a good spot to watch football. Get seated in the right spots, and you’ll have wall to wall televisions on either side of you. If a local team is playing, the effect is pretty amazing. Beers here run from American industrial beers to craft beers. The craft beer selection tends to Texas brews, Southern brews, and tends to lighter beers (witbiers, pilsners and the like). That said, even if you tweet every beer you’re served via Untapp’d, you should find plenty to drink here.

One last word about staff. Often staff in restaurants of this kind have the habits of incurably spoiled brats, spending more time with friends and themselves than their own customers. I saw none of this here. The impression overall was of a professionally trained staff that knew what they were doing, giving both large parties and small groups adequate time to order food. There is a lot of tag team staffing here. On a typical day, multiple staffers will be involved in delivering food to a single table.

My impressions may been affected by the staffer I had on my first visit, who later I found was a part time bartender. That leads to the last word of advice if you’re in a restaurant whose pretty girls are part of the routine: if you can’t get enough service, head to the bar. The best of staff will be there. They will be the most busy, but you’ll get treated right.

Bone Daddy’s House of Smoke
8856 Spring Valley Rd
Dallas, TX 75240
(214) 575-3050

Bone Daddy's House Of Smoke on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Bar-B-Q Shop is a spot we tried on the way home from Dallas, a recommendation of Marie Let’s Eat and notably, a favorite of the 3rd Degree Berns blog. It is an example of Memphis style barbecue, one that is less focused on smoke and more on sauce, really. Outside of the basics, like pulled pork and ribs, Memphis style has a dish called ‘bbq spaghetti’. We managed to try that as well in our trip here.

BBQ spaghetti.

BBQ spaghetti.

This style is not without its critics. Full Custom Gospel BBQ’s Daniel Vaughn, the barbecue critic for Texas Monthly these days, had very little good to say about the ‘cue here. Georgia BBQ Hunt tweeted that he’d not found a Memphis style eatery he was very impressed by. Both critics are heavily influenced by smoke-driven ‘cue, as really, am I. But some times other elements of the meal: ambiance, quality of service, commitment to a style, really count. This is one of those places.

On the way to Memphis we passed these untracked Bradley Fighting Vehicles being towed on trucks.

On the way to Memphis we passed these untracked Bradley Fighting Vehicles being towed on trucks.

Dry rub ribs and more

Dry rub ribs and more

Smoked turkey sandwich.

Smoked turkey sandwich.

Service here, we felt, was close to perfect. The people in the store were friendly, the care taken to our meal evident. The meats were pretty much as others have described, very light on smoke, very heavy on sauce. I felt the stock sauce was ordinary, but Bar-B-Q Shop’s spicy sauce was exceptionally good.

And though it doesn’t look like much, the bbq spaghetti was actually pretty good too.

To be fair, this excursion into the Memphis style isn’t going to stop me from looking for the smokiest meats around, but a meal or two at the Bar-B-Q Shop in Memphis isn’t going to hurt the hard core smoke hound. The quality spicy sauce, the tender meats, the care with which this restaurant treats customers goes a long way towards having a pleasant meal.

Bar-B-Q Shop
1782 Madison Ave
Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 272-1277

Bar-B-Q Shop on Urbanspoon

If laid back and casual are what you want in a restaurant, you’ll love Oh! My Samgyupsal. If you like waitstaff that for the most part have flawless English, you’ll like Oh! My Samgyupsal. If you want good bbq in an atmosphere that doesn’t feel like an “after the karaoke” event, then this eatery may be good for you. All that said, if you’re a newbie to Korean BBQ, this also is a great place to start.

img_6784

If you’re wanting a fancy place to impress the relatives, this isn’t it. The tables and chairs are pretty ordinary and there is graffiti everywhere. I happen to like places with graffiti, it’s a very college thing to do, but it’s not for everyone. The drawings, however, show some artistic touches and it can be fun trying to recognize the folks they often parody.

img_6788

sprouts, kimchi, and some brisket getting "the treatment".

sprouts, kimchi, and some brisket getting “the treatment”.

I’d rate the food as good. The brisket isn’t as fine as the marinated brisket at Honey Pig but it is very thinly sliced and tastes very good if it’s well crisped. There are multiple kinds of pork belly, including the garlic pork belly that Bella Viviere likes. My family are hardly pork belly fans so we tend to eat brisket, wraps, “salad”, and cooked sprouts and kimchi.

If I haven’t suggested this so far, staff may be the best thing this restaurant has going for it. The English the staff use is mostly flawless. And therefore, if you’re one of the folks who has never had “all you can eat” BBQ in the city, this is one of the most English friendly spots you could start with.

In short, Oh! My Damgyupsal is a perfect spot for a beginner, a great spot for a casual crowd, a useful respite from the late night oriented eateries.

Oh! My Samgyupsal
3585 Peachtree Industrial Blvd
Duluth, GA 30096

Oh! My Samgyupsal on Urbanspoon

Claude’s off the Bayou is housed in a modest brick and siding building just to the side of Highway 78, and serves both barbecue and some simpler Cajun dishes. It’s an intriguing combination, but for bloggers, represents something of a challenge. It’s just about impossible to make a judgement on barbecue and Cajun in one trip, and for now, that’s all I have.

img_6317

crawfish tails with fried green tomatoes, foreground, and alligator bites with fries, background.

Crawfish tails with fried green tomatoes, foreground, and alligator bites with fries, background.

The short take home is that you can’t go wrong with any of Claude’s fried platters. The alligator bites are good. Crawfish tails are tasty and have a hint of spice to them. Hugh puppies are decent. I wasn’t fond of Claude’s gumbo, lacking spice, but overall this restaurant can be ranked into the pretty good to good category. About half of all restaurants that claim Cajun/Creole roots in Atlanta will never be written about on this blog. They’re not good enough. And Claude’s is good enough to talk about.

There are bits of bark in that mustard sauce drenched meat.

There are bits of bark in that mustard sauce drenched meat.

Claude's smoker: do they use it to its potential?

Claude’s smoker: do they use it to its potential?

In terms of their barbecue, based on a single pulled pork sandwich, I can say they like their product to be fall off the bone tender and to allow the sauce to carry flavor. But clearly there are dark spots in that light brown meat, and hints of smoke flavor. Further, there is a smoker in the back of the restaurant. So without knowing any more, I’d have to say Claude’s has some tantalizing hints of being able to provide a smoked meat product. But whether they do, and on any kind of consistent basis, would have to be determined on further visits.

Claude’s Off the Bayou
2200 Commerce Drive
Loganville, GA 30052
(770) 466-8889

Claude's Off The Bayou on Urbanspoon

It started when my wife and I decided we wanted to take a look at Rice University, and the little chapel where we were married back in 1983. It’s been 29 years and some change so far, and by December 17 on 2013 we’ll have been married 30 years. So we drove out of northwest Louisiana, where we go for Christmas, and where my dad stays, and headed south. We used a GPS, as I wasn’t familiar with the roads. Highway 59, which forms most of the path south, is a lot wider and a better road than the one I remembered. It’s also a faster trip, closer to 4 hours than the 5 to 5 and a half I used to remember.

Once we toured the University, we looked in the “Village” district for landmarks we remembered. Almost none remain from my time in Houston, but this one immediately caught our eye.

img_6196

img_6197

Kahn’s deli, in its first incarnation, appeared in the 1980s, with Mike Kahn as its owner. The new owners (version 3) were nice enough to pull out some photos and chat up the past of the restaurant.

The original owner, Mike Kahn.

The original owner, Mike Kahn.

The walls are new, as owner #2 imported the brick from New York City. At this point, the emphasis is to recapture the taste of the original deli, as the folks I spoke to told me they ran every recipe through Mike, to see that it met his standards.

I didn’t eat at Kahn’s when we were there, but I loved it back in the day. It’s one of the few holdovers in the Village from older times.

While I chatted up Kahn’s, my wife and daughter found this place and bought plenty of sweets.

img_6195

Afterwards, I couldn’t talk my family into Kahn’s, but another old time restaurant did gain their approval. Goode Company Barbecue was ranked as perhaps the best Houston BBQ back in the 1980s. With barbecue culture growing, and the ever growing emphasis on smoked meats, barbecue gurus such as Full Custom Gospel Barbecue* no longer rate it as Houston’s best, but certainly good, and further, accessibility and the ease with which they serve food keep it popular (A #1 Urbanspoon ranking in Houston in the barbecue category, as I write this).

img_6201

img_6202

It is an easy place to get into and get out of, even if the parking is limited. We were eating roughly around 4 on a Sunday, so we didn’t have a lot of competition for the few parking spaces in front.

beef brisket, slaw, Goode Company's take on jambalaya.

beef brisket, slaw, Goode Company’s take on jambalaya.

Ribs and turkey. The one rib I tried was excellent.

Ribs and turkey. The one rib I tried was excellent.

We tried Goode Company’s turkey, their brisket, their ribs and their sausage. In our hands the meats were real barbecue, clearly smoked, but at times a little underwhelming. The brisket was a bit disappointing, the ribs were very good, the turkey and sausage satisfied our eaters. If Goode Company were to be pulled out of Houston and dropped into Atlanta, I don’t think it would rank up with smokehouses like Fox Brothers, or Heirloom BBQ, or say Big Shanty Smokehouse. It would be in the second tier of barbecue restaurants, a bit like Spiced Right, owner #2, on a good day.

So, after Goode Company we went on to the House of Pies. Despite what others might think, this place is about the pies and only about the pies.

img_6217

img_6210

This is a long time favorite midnight and later eatery. The exotic crowds you would see at this place around 2am made it something of a legend in these parts. A good portion of the late nighters were people from the Montrose district (Houston’s equivalent of San Francisco’s Castro Street), which led to some politically incorrect names back in the day.

Somehow, it just seemed tamer. The apple pie, while good, didn’t seem as big as we remembered. I recall an apple pie that was a fist and a half tall in the middle. Is my memory playing tricks on me? perhaps. However, the French Blackbottom was still there, and diabetes or no, I had a bite of this one. The best of the pies may have been the Bayou Goo.

Sodas at House of Pies are huge.

Sodas at House of Pies are huge.

French Blackbottom. In the 1980s, my favorite pie from this eatery.

French Blackbottom. In the 1980s, my favorite pie from this eatery.

The apple pie seemed so modest. Were our memories playing tricks on us?

The apple pie seemed so modest. Were our memories playing tricks on us?

Favorite pie this day was the "Bayou goo".

Favorite pie this day was the “Bayou Goo”.

After, my wife threw out a shocker, and said we should start driving east right then. And after nearly being killed by a road rage special just outside of Beaumont (someone passing on the right on an Interstate when my car was on the right), we stopped outside of Lafayette, and in the morning, had breakfast at Cafe des Amis in Breaux Bridge LA.

The meal went over well. It started with beignets.

Wife and daughter loved the beignets.

Wife and daughter loved the beignets.

The mix of eggs and etouffee in the “Eggs des Amis” was something my wife could really get into, and I was appreciative of the mix their “Bit Hat” provided. This was easily our best meal of the trip, and my wife hugged our waitress by the time we left.

Eggs des Amis. Etouffee is peeking out from under the eggs.

Eggs des Amis. Etouffee is peeking out from under the eggs.

Big hat (omelette and etouffee) with some andouille grits.

Big hat (omelette and etouffee) with some andouille grits.

After that, New Orleans.

Seen on the  way to  New Orleans. Wine by the glass?

Seen on the way to New Orleans. Wine by the glass?

The problem was, we had to get in, eat, and get out fast. And in what was perhaps a mistake, we chose Parkway Bakery and Tavern. It was a mistake in part because the path the GPS took us through looked at times like alleys in a miniature Italy. I feared for the safety of our tires. It was a mistake, in part, because we arrived in the middle of a Carolina – New Orleans football game, and the crowd at the eatery to watch football was huge.

Side of the eatery, showing a lot of the outdoor seating.

Side of the eatery, showing a lot of the outdoor seating. It’s hard to see, but the body of an old Ford, probably a Model A, is covered in plastic behind the fence.

A football game was on and the crowd was substantial.

A football game was on and the crowd was substantial.

A plaque on the wall  (see also this link; dates on link and plaque are slightly different) told the story of the eatery. Opened in 1922 as a bakery, it became a sandwich shop in 1932 and has been rebuilt at least once. The meal, once the wait was over, was good. Crusty bread, but softer than what you might get at Paneras (soft bread is actually an old fad, started among the rich). Old fashioned and yet satisfying.

Thre sandwiches, fries, banana pudding. Yes, the pudding was really good.

Thre sandwiches, fries, banana pudding. Yes, the pudding was really good.

Beef, with gravy,

Beef, with gravy,

Sausage po boy.

Sausage po boy.

Any eating past this point were mere snacks, and frankly, couldn’t compare to the drive. But, oh what a drive it was!

Kahn’s Deli
2429 Rice Blvd
Houston, TX 77005
(713) 529-2891

Kahn's Deli on Urbanspoon

Goode Company Barbecue
5109 Kirby Dr
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 522-2530

Goode Company Barbeque on Urbanspoon

House of Pies
3112 Kirby Dr
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 528-3816

House of Pies on Urbanspoon

Cafe Des Amis
140 East Bridge Street
Breaux Bridge, LA, 70517
(337) 332-5273

Cafe Des Amis on Urbanspoon

Parkway Bakery and Tavern
538 Hagan Ave
New Orleans, LA 70119
(504) 482-3047

Parkway Bakery & Tavern on Urbanspoon

~~~
*The author of the FCG Barbecue blog is the fella accompanying Tony Bourdain to barbecue joints in the Austin episode of No Reservations.

There is food, and there is food as show. Some people want a quiet plate of tonkatsu. Others want the flash of teppanyaki style cooking. Honey Pig is really in the latter camp in terms of Korean BBQ, very much making the food a show. The inside is attractive, stuffed with pigs of various kinds, a pig with wings suspended from the roof, lots of wood and wait staff all dressed in black.

There is a large grill that centers every table. It has an rounded shape, and a nice handle, to make it easier to pick up after the metal cools down. A hole on one side lets out the grease as the meat grills. There is a temperature control on one side, and by the control, a hemispherical button, which you press to alert staff if you’re not getting enough attention (we didn’t need the button).

The surface on which the meats are cooked. In the upper right is a complimentary carafe of water.

The roof is industrial and there was as much overhead ducting as I’ve seen since my days at Mirak Korean.

We chose three meats, their brisket, their honey pig, and their marinated bulgogi. We didn’t want the fried rice they normally finish with. Our staff started by adding useful collections of sauces and sides, then dropped plenty bean sprouts and kimchi onto the grill.

Dipping sauces. Note the button. In a Korean restaurant, you use that button to call over waiters.

On the left are rice cake sheets (to put veggies and meats in), the middle a very salty dipping sauce, on the right cold kimchi soup, which we sipped to cleanse our palate of stronger meat flavors.

Scallion salad, they call this.

We had a waiter, who cooked the kinchi and the meats, and made sure everyone had what they wanted. Of the meats, we liked the beef the best.

Excellent beef.

Metal chopsticks and a spoon (for rice).

The honey pig wasn’t bad either, a bit less fatty than common pork belly.

Honey pig.

The bulgogi was a little disappointing. We’d probably go with two servings of the beef next time.

The impression I got was a restaurant exceptionally friendly to Korean beginners. There is a lot of show on the table. The well dressed staff were personable and spoke excellent English. It doesn’t have the camp appeal of Iron Age, but neither does it feel like you need to come straight from a karaoke bar with a crowd of same sex friends to get the best out of it either. It’s a better family spot, despite the thump, disco-like, of the Kpop background music. It’s not the meat and seafood bargain that Cho Wan is, but it has a menu with fewer fails, and is easier to navigate.

So go there. If you’ve never done Korean and it scares you a little, especially go there.

Honey Pig
(770) 476-9292
3473 Old Norcross Rd NW
Duluth, GA 30096

Honey Pig on Urbanspoon

Our waitress said, “The chef told me, a Dreamlands rib done right should taste like a pork chop.” Well, they are tender, but not fall off the bone tender. Some meat does stick to the bone. The ribs are juicy, and you can smear juices ear to ear and feel like a 3 year old again. The ribs are huge and the serving enormous.

White bread and sauce; comes with the ribs.

Cooked to evoke the taste of a pork chop. Dreamland’s rib servings are enormous; their ribs are flavorful and juicy.

What they are not is appreciably indirectly smoked. Sauce and rich meat carries the flavor. The meat itself is cooked for 45 minutes to an hour over hickory flames.

This place is hard to find, even though we’ve been to Tuscaloosa plenty and stopped in hotels mere blocks from this place. When I set the closest location to the original Dreamlands in our GPS, I took a small wandering road through a bunch of hotels back to a more residential district. At a three way intersection, I turned right and there it was.

It is a plain, simple eatery, with very little on the menu. Sausage, ribs, and rib sandwiches pretty much are the choices. Order your food, it comes out. Servings are, as previously stated, enormous. The food is what it is. It will not be the favorite of a smoke head, but the juicy ribs are delicious nonetheless.

Other Dreamlands reviews of note:

3rd Degree Berns
Cynical Cook
Marie Let’s Eat

Dreamlands
5535 15th Ave E
Tuscaloosa, AL 35405
(205) 758-8135

Dreamland Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Next Page »