1620 Highway Z
Earlier this year Main Street BBQ in Imperial, Mo. merged with Bobby Tom’s BBQ and moved into its Pevely location. It’s located just east of the Pevely exit off interstate 55. A tidy, modern and busy place. I’d heard about it a while back and came across it on the interwebs recently while researching another place. We had our doubts. We are big ‘Bandana’s’ fans and have found few places that compare. On the theory that barbecue, like sex, cheesecake and Glee episodes are even at their worst better than most alternative offerings, we decided to give it a try.
Anyway, we met there and stepped in after Angel and Adam gave the new(er) little car a quick glance. It’s the same general shape, color and size as the old one so there really wasn’t much to look at. We stepped in and found ourselves at the ordering counter. Large boards on the front of the counter listed the offerings, and a pile of glossy, colorful menu sheets were stacked on top of it. I grabbed a couple and we stepped back and pondered. In pretty short time we stepped up and placed our orders. Angel paid up and we took our plastic tumblers to the tea dispensers, then found ourselves a table in the large seating area. We chatted a bit about the car, the car transaction really, since I rarely do something that big and important without Angel along. She keeps the books for us and is much more in tune with petty little things like budgets, cash on hand, insurance and the name of our bank. It’s a tribute to her really. She does such a good and thorough job with our finances that I simply don’t have to think about them much. I’ve said it before, I won the wife lottery.
We sat with our tea, tea and sweet tea. I was a bit panicked that I didn’t have my trusty little notebook with me. I ended up making notes on the menu instead, using an ink pen that Angel re-assembled from parts dug out from the distant and dark basement area of her voluminous purse. We didn’t have to wait long, typical of barbecue places almost everything is already cooked before you even get there.
I’d ordered the Main Street Special, a pulled pork sandwich, along with red potato salad and baked beans. Angel’s ½ chicken surprised me, I ‘d assumed (hoped) she'd get the back half of the chicken, that would have been hilarious, instead they’d sliced it lengthwise, so she ended up with a leg, thigh, wing and breast instead of just its ass-end. For sides she had corn on the cob and coleslaw and they even threw in a couple of half-slices of toast, which had also been cut lengthwise.
Adam’s was called a ‘Bird of Paradise’ sandwich, implying fowl, in his case chicken, though turkey was also available. His was served on a toasted croissant along with bits-o-bacon and cheddar cheese. It was accompanied by a bag of kettle chips and baked beans. My sandwich was on a hoagie roll and topped with a little slaw and a couple of dill pickle slices. The meat was all sweet and juicy with the house sauce. Angel’s chicken fell off the bone, slow and perfectly cooked. My pork was also tender and smoky, delicious, though the hoagie was a little thicker and heavier than I would have liked. Adam’s croissant-bun held together nicely and didn’t look near as heavy.
We exchanged slivers of sides and meats and tasted pretty much everything everyone had ordered.
The red potato salad was creamy and piled high. Not too sweet, not too mustard-y, about as good a potato salad as you’ll find anywhere other than by your own gifted hand. Angel’s coleslaw was light on vinegar and a little sweeter than KFC coleslaw. In her rating system, KFC is the coleslaw gold-standard. The baked beans were sweet as well, but that’s the way I like them. They were as good as KFC, or ‘Off the Hook’, and much better than most other places. Adam discovered a shard of onion in his and abandoned them, even when I pointed out the many bacon bits. Angel handed him her slaw, the chicken, corn and toast were filling her up.
A young family entered and took the table next to ours. Among them was a young lad about two or three feet tall and however old boys of that height are, maybe three or four. I caught him staring at me so I broke character and acknowledged his existence. As soon as I did he started rambling on in a slobbery lisp about something completely incomprehensible, but whatever it was , it seemed very exciting and important to him. About all I got out of it were a couple of words which I could not squeeze into a coherent sentence or paragraph. His parents seemed amused at the rambling speech and my dutiful, yet confused attention to it. I decided to repeat back to the tyke, in the form of a question, as much as I thought I understood. “So you ate your horsey?”
He laughed for a mere second, then looked frightened and turned away, I think I made him cry. This is never my intent but it is the most common result of my interactions with children, bank on it, most often someone’s gonna scream or cry.
I only finished half my sandwich since the high stress of a major financial transaction and the separation anxiety that accompanies the abandoning of a well-used vehicle tends to shrink up my belly. I knew they had boxes though. I was the only one that needed one. Angel’s former chicken half was bare bones, Adam’s croissant-ed sandwich a mere memory.
The bill came to only twenty seven bucks and change, this similarity and subsequent comparisons to Bandana’s were natural. We debated it for a while, Adam couldn’t decide which was better, so that should tell you something. Angel commented that Main Street’s meats were moister than Bandana’s, I agreed. The pork at B’s is certainly smoky, tender and tasty, but it is served dry and must be lubed up with a considerable amount of sauce to make it swallow-able after the first few bites. Main Street’s default sauce is at least as good as any of Bandana’s varieties, the sides were basically the same in both places. So which one is better? I’d have to say neither. They are a bit different, but they are both very, very good. If you like barbecue and live in or around Jefferson County, stop in and certainly give Main Street a try, you won’t be disappointed.
I didn’t take any poor-quality photos this trip, Main Street’s web site has several good ones though: http://www.bbqonmain.com/photos.html