Monday, January 26, 2015

Bandana's Bar-B-Q

1220 Big Bill Rd.
Arnold, Mo.
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We are eagerly awaiting the opening of four or five places around Jefferson County. One, is Savannah's Smokehouse in Desoto. I was in the Fountain City Saturday morning taking pictures of some of the interesting sights around town. While on Main Street I peeked inside the window to see how it was progressing. They've still got some work to do, but soon, maybe soon.
In the meantime, we still have to come up with places to eat. This was Adam's week and as is his custom, he didn't announce until about an hour before dinner time. Adam is not very experimental in this family venture. he picks places that he likes. So Bandana's was no surprise.
There used to be a Bandana's in Festus, but it ironically burned down a couple of years ago, there has been no apparent effort to replace it. So, we were off to Arnold.
The Place:
I've said it before, I don't like going to Arnold. It is about the northernmost city in Jefferson County, which makes it more of just another suburb of St. Louis than anything else. The roads are always busy, it is littered with acute-angled, confounding multi-lane, multi-choice intersections. The business area has every conceivable big box store, franchise restaurant, bank, strip mall you can imagine. There are a couple of restaurants in Arnold that we've tried to go to, but the lines around the buildings were just too intimidating. Bandana's though is usually not nearly as busy. The lot was less than half full. We got out, I closed the car door, then checked it again, then
once more before We went in. Last week my car door was left open the entire time we were dining.
As we approached the entrance, something on their door caught my eye. Mixed messages on the door. I love irony.
We went in and were led back to a booth. Bandana's is wider than it is deep. Most of the booths are in three straight long rows. I imagine staff movement, serving and clearing are more efficient this way, not bending around haphazardly arraigned tables and diners.
Our server, name-tagged 'Kayla', a young, happy and energetic lady, opened up her order pad. "Can I start you off with some tea or Pepsi Products?" She asked of me.
"Why yes, yes you can." I answered and returned to scanning the menu. That never gets old.
I looked up again and saw her smiling. Points! "I'm afraid you'll have to be a bit more specific than that."
Angel jumped in for the rescue. "Sweet tea, and can I get that with no ice?"
Of course she can. I ordered unsweet tea with no sugar, which never gets old either, Adam went for a Pepsi.
She scurried off and we began the selection process. After I decided I looked around and checked out the familiar layout. Mostly brick and tile, lights over the tables were re-purposed tin washtubs. Somewhere in the background there was music, country maybe, but fortunately it was so low in volume that I couldn't even make out the tunes.
Kayla returned in a few minutes with our drinks, we were ready to order.

The Food:
I ordered a Southern Pulled Pork Sandwich and a side of potato salad. I heard someone else order that side as we were being led back to our seats and the notion stuck. I hadn't had potato salad in a long time. Angel went for her usual, a Choose Two combo of chicken and ribs with fried okra (Blech!) and French fries. Adam went simple, Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and fries.
Bandana's has lots of smoky meats to choose from, beef, turkey, chicken, sausages, pork, etc. There's also a very god selection of sides to choose from.
I'd not had the pulled pork before, usually I get a Choose Two myself. I was hoping the pulled pork would be just a little wetter and in strips rather than half inch chunks. Those tend to be a little chewy and dry unless you slather them in sauce. Bandana's has an excellent selection of sauces to choose from at every table, so it's not that big of a deal, I'm just lazy.
I discovered they had free Wifi available, so Like Angel and Adam, spent the next few minutes browsing the web or whatever it is they do on their 'smart' cellular telephones. I had my tablet, both phones I carry are flip-style, for making phone calls, like phones are supposed to do.
When I did look up again I started watching the staff, especially the hot ones. (just kidding!) I noticed the front staff was entirely female and the only people I could see in the kitchen were male. I'm not accusing anyone of anything here, just an observation. Many would argue that women don't belong in the kitchen, I boldly and vehemently disagree. I will speak out loudly to put women back into the kitchen, because I'm all for women's rights.
You're welcome, ladies.
As if on cue, Kayla brought me my sandwich.
The sandwiches were presented in baskets, diner style. Angel's combo came on a plate. My potato salad was in a little bowl in the basket, Adam's fries were just dumped in alongside his sandwich. The meat on mine was piled high. So was the potato salad. There was going to be more than enough food. I pulled a chunk, there were chunks, not threads, of meat and tasted it. Smoky, sure, but as I feared, a little dry. Pass the sauce please!
I injected about a quarter cup of Sweet and Smoky into the pile of meat, made more complicated by the slaw on the top. The bun seemed kind of flimsy, I doubted it would hold up for long. Once sauced up the meat was very good. A bit chunky for a 'pulled' pork sandwich, but not too bad. The potato salad was a sweet version, with chunks of boiled egg and slivers of something, perhaps potato skins. As far as potato salad goes, pretty darn good.
Angel's plate came with two enormous slices of Texas toast. I'd forgotten that luscious treat. They apparently bathe the
toast in butter, there's not a dry spot on it anywhere. Thick, buttery, toasted, Mmmmm. She handed me half a slice. I love her. Looking at her plate though was troubling. Two starchy fried sides and a pound of toast.
The actual meats took up less than half the plate. I tasted one of her fries, not bad. Angel pours ketchup over the fries, I'm a dipper myself. It's a miracle we're still together given that stark difference.
It was only a small portion of ribs, and there's not much meat on ribs anyhow. Angel said they were very good, just not a lot there. Bandana's are about her favorite ribs anywhere. The chicken was a little dry, she said. Tasty, but dry.
As for the okra (Blech!) she said they were nothing special, probably frozen.
Adam's sandwich and fries were gone in a hurry. He was quite pleased. He didn't say much about it, but the speed and the 100% completion spoke volumes.
Summary:
Currently our favorite smoky meat place. We sure miss the one in Festus, Arnold is a pain to get to.
The price was quite reasonable, forty two bucks. Kayla took very good care of us, happy, efficient and patient the whole time.
The tea was better than most places, but still almost an afterthought.
I'll have to admit that Adam and Angel are bigger fans of smoky meats than I am. I don't dislike them at all, but it's not a high ranking, go-to thing in my head. As far as they go though, I have to admit that this is about as good as it gets.
The whole operation is well run, efficient, on time, they get the orders right and the food is definitely fresh cooked.
If only they'd rebuild in Festus. . .















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