Smoke is mysterious, fire is uncertain, and pit men are expensive. So the mystery, uncertainty, and expense of taking the chance to make great barbecue is being replaced by the quantifiable methods of always making pretty good 'cue.
Solid joint with our favorites being the homemade banana pudding and pimento cheese. Barbecue is good after being re-heated and held... but excellent when consumed fresh from the smoker. Double-Boner takes a quart of pimento cheese to-go!
- Course Chop - Tender meat. Pork chop flavors. Moist & good.
- Slice - Getting a lot more smoke flavor on the slice. Very moist.
- Both main fare products had been either steamed or re-heated
- Deano brings some fresh outside brown. This is fabulous! Too bad we weren't served this at the start.
The food was in the average to good range, but with much less smoke flavor than we're used to getting. Because of time constraints, this joint was chosen over barbecue in Shelby. Would should have kept on moving, because after being in Lexington earlier this afternoon, M&K doesn't make a lasting impression on us.
- Slice - Tender & moist. Not sauced/dipped in the kitchen. Less smoke that we've seen elsewhere today. Baked?
- Chop - Good mix of meats here. Very moist/wet/watery (steam tray?).
Smoke Daddy, XO, Gus, and Jack thought the hot link was excellent. Ribs and beans were good, with the ribs narrowly missing an excellent mark. We were disappointed that we arrived too late to try the sliced brisket and cobbler.
This is just the type of joint that our BBQ Tours crew loves: Family owned/operated; No pretense; Making authentic barbecue everyday, and complementing it with homemade sides/desserts. We will be back!
- Ribs - Bark was a bit tough, but the meat underneath was worthy of the effort. These ribs have good smoke and are fully rendered. The meat is tender and juicy... but very salty. Salt from rub has penetrated through the meat, making the pork flavor take a back seat to the salt. These small ribs may have been over-rubbed (and likely kept warm for some time). They were good, but missed greatness today.
- Hot Link - Delicious. This Smokey Denmark sausage is enhanced by the pitmaster's efforts. XO feels that it is in the same league as Drexler's house-made links. Gus calls it "meat candy". It is the best meat we sample here today.
- Chopped Brisket - It is obvious that Travis and Donna are frugal in their ways, and come from a 'waste not, want not' tradition. However, there were too many chunks of subcutaneous (surface) fat included in this mixture. Instead of "chopped beef", our tray resembled "chopped fat with beef". No rating given.
XO, Smoke Daddy, Gus, and Jack would return for the ribs, sausage, and beans. Solid effort across the board. This restaurant in the Bishop Arts district felt like a barbecue place - even though it is just over 2 years old. High praise from XO: "Atmosphere is about as good as a new, urban barbecue joint can be." Keep up the good work -- we'll be back!
- Spare Ribs - Gigantic and shockingly excellent, given their size. Good color, meat/smoke flavor, texture. Fully rendered. Simple seasoning and not over-seasoned. Well done! Gus rates them a 5 out of 5.
- Lean - Slices were a bit light on intramuscular fat, but there was a thick layer of exterior fat left on each slice. Beefy, with a good smoke flavor, especially around the edges/ends. XO feels they could have been more tender if given a bit more time.
- Fatty - Moist & tender. Fully rendered, with a texture approaching melt-in-the-mouth. Beefy flavor dominates. Gus is reminded of Robyn's pot roast... and his comparison is accurate, except for the outermost edges. Only trace amount of smoke is present here.
- Pork Chop - Tender and extremely moist (Injected?). Same smoke issue as the fatty brisket... none penetrates into the heart of the chop. Edges and meat closest to the bone are the best.
- Kruez Sausage - Beefy, crumbly, loose-packed sausage with a black pepper kick. This is what real sausage tastes like!
Smoke Daddy, XO, and Gus would return for Kielbasa and barbecue beans. Most of the barbecue was tainted with bad smoke and/or spiced to the point that the meat was unrecognizable. Sides and desserts were pretty good, but skip the plain pintos in favor of the tangy barbecue beans.
- Sliced Brisket - Smoke & Salt. Firm, stand-up style brisket. Looks tender. A bit rough on the smoke.
- Rib - Good color and ring. Texture is OK, even if the rib is a bit dry. However, application of smoke and spice are overwhelming.
- Kielbasa - Good meaty sausage. Nice flavors here.
- Pulled Pork - Seasoned with table sauce??? Not sure, but the combination of sauce and smoke wipes out any meat flavor.
- Chopped Brisket - Spiced with a spice blend not found on our table. Flavor profile is weird, and so bold that you can't tast the beef.
- Jalapeno-Cheese Sausage - Good spice. OK sausage... but feels like its trying too hard to be popular. XO calls it "Liberace Meat".
Smoke Daddy, XO, and Phil Chelf would come back for the brisket, beans, and cobbler. The ribs were nearly done, and if fully rendered would also be very good. 20+ year history and nice folks make this a pleasant surprise in strip center barbecue.
- Brisket - Beefy & fully rendered. Tender meat with just a bit of chew. Good. Not too much smoke, but it is evident around the edges.
- Rib - Good color. Lightly rubbed. Good meaty flavor and finished with a sweet glaze. Mine was 'mostly done', But XO and Phil's needed more time in the smoker -- not fully rendered.
- Sausage - Commercial texture with a 'unique' spice blend. Spice profile clashes with the sauce. Not a favorite.
- Hot link - Richer flavor with a bit of kick. Consistency is still commercial-style, but flavor is good.
Barbecue is one of my hobbies. I have visited/reviewed upwards of 250 establishments; participated in the development of an amazing smoker at Karubecue.com; and cooked thousands of pounds of finished product for friends, family, and church fundraisers.
Sometimes when we travel as a family, I will wear a Barbecue Tours hat or shirt. This is usually a good thing, and can prompt some interesting conversation. People are passionate about barbecue! However, there are times when I don't want to critically review a BBQ joint -- I just want to sit down and enjoy the experience...
Lexington #1 may be the most famous of all the Lexington style barbecue joints... a precarious proposition for our barbecue crew if the joint doesn't have a focus on excellence and attention to detail. Without a solid, repeatable, process-driven approach, there are just too many variables in cooking barbecue to ensure that the product on the tables lives up to the hype. I'm happy to say that this place lives up to the expectations. An authentic barbecue experience where everything on the table rated very good or above.
- Course Chop - Larger pieces in chunks and shreds. Outside brown parts are chewy, but ever so smokey. Quite tasty.
- Slice - Also with some outside brown. Bites & Chews easier than course because it is cut across the grain. Nicely done.
History dates back to the 50's, and Sonny Conrad has been there for most of that time. Originally started as an ice cream stand that sold some barbecue on the side. Great atmosphere and Lexington-style barbecue... oh, and save some room for banana pudding or a hand-dipped banana split (large enough to share with the whole family)!
- Chopped (sandwich) - Mmmmm... Smoky. The chopped here is a very nice mix of meat. Good texture. Chopped fine, but not mushy.
- Sliced - Nice pink smoke ring all the way through. Meat is firm, but flavorful. Easily breaks into chunk, but doesn't shred. Darker pieces are wonderfully rich and tender.
We like Stamey's! The outstanding cobblers are followed closely by the pork and atmosphere. Solid. We were so busy eating that we forgot to take pictures of the spread... oops. Enjoy the photos of the smokehouse.
- Sliced - Beautiful. Pink smoke ring extends all the way through the meat. Outside is extra smoky. Excellent.
- Chopped - Machine chopped, but not mushy. Flavors meld together to form a very fine whole. We decide to order sandwiches rather than full trays of finely chopped pork.