Monday, September 23, 2013

Main Street BBQ

1620 Highway Z
Pevely, Mo.
On the Web
On Facebook


The Place:
Just East of I-55 In Pevely. Big sign, you can't miss it.
I saw this on their Facebook page:
FACEBOOK FAN APPRECIATION DAYS!!! Show us this post on your mobile device, or print at home like a coupon and we'll take 10% off any order today and tomorrow. PLUS, we'll give you a FREE bottle of sauce with any order $20 or more (pre tax, pre discount). WAIT, THERE'S MORE! Leave a comment about your favorite Main Street item and three random folks will win t- shirts! 
Unfortunately I saw it after we were there, not before.
Which leads us to today's tech tip:  If you are going out to eat, fancy or simple, check the social media sites before you go. This sort of offer is not unusual for places that are social-media-savvy.
When you step in to MSBBQ you immediately encounter the counter. On the front of it is the menu in big red letters painted on white boards. There are also printed paper menus and some places to sit for a while to figure it out if you're not familiar with the offerings. We'd been there a couple of times before, but not recently, so it took us only a few minutes.
The Food:
I knew they made good meat, very good in most cases, but I was on a mission. I'd looked at the online menu earlier in the week and had decided to step off the comfy smoked meat grid. I ordered a bowl of 'Beef Brisket and pulled pork Chili', with cheese and onions.
Angel asked for the half chicken plate, BBQ style. I reused my brilliant joke about whether she preferred the front half or the back half of the bird. She sided hers with red potato salad and corn, cob-style. Adam ordered the Main Street Special, brisket, with kettle chips and baked beans. We paid up, were handed our cups and I poured my 'fresh brewed' tea. (more on this later). Angel took a taste of the sweet tea then stepped over to the Dr. Pepper. Adam poured, to no one's surprise, Pepsi.
Since the meat is already slow cooked and just needs to be plated, the wait for the food was pretty short. My chili arrived first.They served it with two packages of oyster crackers and two wedges of Texas toast. I don't like oysters so I didn't even open the crackers.*
I stirred the cheese and onions into the nearly overflowing soup. It was chunky, quite chunky. Beans, meat chunks, tomatoes in good quantity. Once I decided it had had enough time to cool a little I took a sip of the broth.
Savory, smoky, meaty.
Usually chili is made with ground beef. I have had it with other proteins though.  Many years ago I was stationed in Northern Japan and was invited to be on the judging panel for a chili contest, sponsored by none other than the base's quite sizable Hispanic Club.
Oh baby, there was some variety there. Deer meat, tofu, fish, foul, pork and beef of all cuts. I recall that as a fact, not as a taste though. The Hispanic club chefs as a rule, were very generous with the various chili peppers, that I remember well. I think I belched and burnt internally for several days afterward.
Since then I've left competitive chili making behind. I prefer a milder mix. I don't mind loosening my sinuses or breaking a little brow sweat, but the idea of making it so hot that it should be registered as a weapon of mass indigestion I simply don't find appetizing. The broth in MSBBQ's chili was just about right in that regard.
Angel's luscious plate arrived. I bore the heavily sauced and slightly charred starboard side of a chicken. Small bowls held the potatoes and the corn, there was also some fancy cut pickles and Texas toast. I tasted a little of the chicken. The meat was very juicy, tender and perfectly cooked. I also stabbed a small bit of potato. It was creamy and I detected a hint of dill, I liked that. I used to take new potatoes and boil them in water along with a head of dill. It gives them a bright, fresh, earthy taste. Angel threw herself into her meal with the usual gusto. Adam pushed his beans around in his bowl then set them aside. He found onion chunks. His  brisket though was 'not bad'. He did discard the bread after a while though, and just savored the meat. I tried it, a little drier than the chicken, but not too much. Brisket is one of the hardest things to get right at a barbecue joint. This tough cut of meat is quite a challenge for anyone, any style. MSBBQ was pretty good. I've not had enough brisket to give it a rating though.
I couldn't finish my chili. There was so much meat and beans that it filled me pretty quick. It was pretty good, not my all-time favorite, but the meat made for interesting and pleasant textures. I'd add more chopped bell pepper and maybe some celery myself. But there was nothing wrong with what they served. Chili is a very subjective thing, very hard to judge one against the other.
Angel was on her fifth or sixth napkin when she complained "I'm out of chicken!" Sure enough there was nothing left but a few scarred bones and some slivers of skin.  I tried some of the skin, it was sweet, wonderfully sweet.
Summary:
The bill for this complete meal was only twenty eight dollars and change, less than ten dollars each. For generous portions of quality cut and cooked meat, this was a bargain. The food service was fast, we did have a guy stop by and check on us, so the service was pretty good. This is not a fine-dining facility so not much service is actually required or expected. This is barbecue, not haughty French cuisine on white linen tablecloths.
The tea. Oh well, even though their signage boasted 'fresh brewed', I could only infer that they meant, at best, 'same-day'. It was cloudy, murky and muddy tasting.  On the PJTea scale I'd give it a -1 to -2. Maybe we'll call it -1.75.  I knew it probably would be.  I saw the coffee pot when we were pouring our drinks, it looked old and over-baked. If coffee isn't poured out and restarted every hour at worst, then the likelihood that the tea will be fresh is very slim.
The food though was pretty darn good. I was quite happy with the risk I took ordering the chili. Their real specialty, the meats, were excellent. This is good since our nearby beloved Bandanna's burned down we've missed slow cooked meat. Main Street barbecue is an excellent alternative, and a worthy competitor.



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*That's a joke. I know oyster crackers contain no actual oysters.




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