Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Parky's Smokehouse

Road trip!!!  Several weeks ago we received a generous invitation from Gary and Julie Parks to try Parky's Smokehouse in Lebanon, and today we finally had the opportunity to go and give it a try.  Being from the south side, it was quite a trek at about a 50 minute drive, so we had to be strategic in our dinner time planning.

After a pleasant drive through old Lebanon, past Memorial Park, Parky's gave a very good first impression.  From the outside, it looked like a chain.  Very polished.  We aren't sure if the building was originally a different chain, but it had the look down...great signage, designated carry-out parking, and a contained playfulness.

Inside was more of the same.  Great layout and excellent marketing.  From the cute pig with shades t-shirts to the signature sauces available for purchase, these people obviously had a lot of pride in their product.

So, for the reason we came...the eats!  We had reviewed the menu beforehand and already knew what we wanted.  To drink, Fred went with a tall New Belgian Fat Tire ale.  For a small selection of brews, they really had a good mix.  The Kentuckarita, their signature margarita made with Jim Beam and frozen smooth, was a must for Libby!  Libby never knew that her two favorite spirits, bourbon and tequila could go so well together!  These came out quickly and were accompanied by a bread basket.  Fred was very happy with the Fat tire and Libby was on cloud nine -- Only disappointed that she had decided on the 12 oz instead of the 27 oz.!

For starters, we decided to go big and take on the Smokehouse Sampler!  This is a belly buster in it's own right; Corn & Black Bean Salsa, Tortilla Chips, Curley Ques(thin onion rings), Boneless Barbecue Glazed Chicken Wings, Mozzarella Cheese Sticks, Fried Dill Pickles and Fresh Fried Potato Chips served with barbecue ranch dressing.  Wow!  So many good things about this appy, it was hard to know where to start.  Our initial interest was in the fried pickles...and yes, they were exactly what you want when you're in the mood...well battered and that little tang that melds so perfectly with the homemade bbq ranch dressing.  The mozzarella sticks, housemade potato chips, curley ques, and boneless chicken wings were all really good, but the show stopper had to be that corn and black bean salsa!  Fred and Libby have never had anything like it.  Such a sweet, flavorful surprise that really makes salsa belong in a bbq joint!

Knowing we still had entrees to order, we paced ourselves and were so glad we did.  Fred, continuing the sampler feel, went with the Barbecue Blast; a quarter rack of ribs, a white or dark chicken quarter, pulled pork, brisket, turkey breast and smoked sausage...what was he thinking???  Libby, trying to stick a more conservative sounding array, went with the two meat combo plate of the bourbon chicken and the pulled pork.  Both came with two sides.  Fred went with mac&cheese and sweet potato fries and Libby the barbecue beans and creamy coleslaw.  Ozzy went with his usual that came with a side of fries and applesauce.  Can we say Pig Out?! 

Where do we begin?
First off, the kids were very happy!
Stella gleefully enjoyed some of the bread basket, sweet potato fries and the applesauce.  We had never seen the girl eat so much regular table food with the family in her life!  Ozzy loved the mac&cheese and kept proclaiming how full he was...he was careful to add that we must box up all the leftover mac as he would want it tomorrow!

Now, for the meat!  What a bountiful feast it was!  We had to agree that everything was good.  There was no failure here, but there were a couple of stand outs.  The ribs were crazy tender and fell apart as they should.  Even the fat was all gooey...no chewiness or underdone bits, just melt in your mouth goodness.  The brisket had great flavor and texture.  The turkey was a surprise and perfect for trying out all the sauces!  Much more flavor than we expected.  The bourbon chicken was moist and the sauce was nice and easy.

Oh, the sauces...can't forget those!  We had the pleasure of trying sweet, spicy, mustard, molasses, bourbon bbq, and apple.  Again, hard to know where to start!  The molasses really stood out as it had a very unique flavor that gave the impression of rich prunes..it was amazing!  Went very nicely on the brisket. The apple was like putting apple pie filling on the meat and that was a treat on the turkey and chicken.  The mustard felt very honey mustard-y and was a good contrast to the wide array of sweetness.  The spicy was mild as was the bourbon flavor of the bourbon bbq.

The sides were good.  The most outstanding being the barbecue beans...a fun twist with black beans and huge hunks of the pulled pork...oh, baby!  The cole slaw was very mild in flavor and didn't really stand up to anything else, but it would have been good with a lighter dish...needed more zing.   As mentioned above, the mac & cheese and sweet potato fries were hits with the kids.  Simple preparations that kept the meat the guest of honor.

FLOE had planned to try dessert, but there was just no way.  Full to the brim, we rolled out in a carb coma, fighting the urge to nap on the way home.  The torrential downpour didn't help, but all in all, this was well worth the trip.  Next time, dessert, but for now, we will rest easy with dreams of molasses over brisket, tender babybacks, and Kentuckarita's by the pitcher...

A word of warning...this place is not for the weak of stomach.  Bring an appetite and extra insulin if you got it! ;)


Wrap Up
Price-$-$$$, Actually, very well priced for barbecue.  Our meal included, one large and one small beer, two 12 oz Kentuckarita's, the biggest appetizer, a kid's meal, the largest meat sampler, a combo platter, and everything came with two sides.  Our total was right at $80 and was well worth it.  If one doesn't order basically everything but the kitchen sink, it is quite reasonable.
Atmosphere-****, You would think this place is a chain!  It is so polished and professional, yet has so much personality.  Julie and Gary are doing things right!
Service-****, Again, very impressive.  Our waiter seemed pretty new, but it was obvious his goal was to give us a fun, inviting experience. By the way, the menu is HUGE, so there is literally something for everyone!

Fred -A-, Wonderful find with surprising off the beaten path items.  Couldn't get enough of the salsa or the kentuckarita...only complaint....have to ask for any of their amazing sauces rather than have them at the table.
Libby - A+, I absolutely LOVE this place!  Not only is it a great mix of clean and contemporary, but it has a feel of downhome hospitality that is hard to find north of the Ohio.  The food was so comforting and it was not just a meal, but an experience!
Ozzy- A+, Comments like "This is great!" "I'm so full," and "Don't forget the leftovers!" really speaks volumes from our finicky fella.
Estelle- A+, As Stella's first opportunity to enjoy the meal with the rest of us, she was one happy 9 month old!  It was nice to put the baby food up entirely for one meal!
Parky's Smokehouse on Urbanspoon


I8INDY said...

Looking forward to trying this place. I rarely go up to Lebanon, but if this place is as good as you say it is, a short road trip is in order really soon.

Melissa in Z'ville said...

Did they know you were FLOE when you showed up, though? My only concern is if you got better-than-normal service because they had given you the meal and were obviously gunning for a good review....

Fred, Libby, Ozzy and Estelle(Stella) said...

Melissa, that is a DARNED good question. We actually discussed that throughout the meal. But as our waiter was very green we decided against. But we'll probably never know...

Fred, Libby, Ozzy and Estelle(Stella) said...

Also, just to clarify...this was the first time we had been invited to do a review. A $50 gift card was sent to us with a letter and some restaurant reviews for Parky's. We decided to keep our presence on the down low as we wanted it to be a normal dining experience. I get the feeling Julie would have introduced herself if she spotted us, as she seemed eager in her letter to meet us...but again, we wanted this to be as unbiased an experience as possible. Now, on the other hand, I'm not sure how much those Kentuckarita's influenced my experience, but, hey...it's all good! ;)

Libby of FLOE

Julie Parks said...

Wow, thanks Libby. Appreciate you checking us out. No we didn't know you were there and our staff didn't know it was you, but I wish Gary or I could have met you. You are thriving with your passion as well. You got the real Parky's and we're thrilled you enjoyed it! So for those readers interested in trying that salsa, Thursday night is a great night. We call it "Oink & Olé:" Buy the Triple Barbecue Nachos, get the Colorful Corn & Black Bean Salsa appetizer FREE! And most importantly, those Kentuckaritas are on special! Oink and Adios!

Melissa in Z'ville said...

Thanks for clarifying, Libby - I love your reviews and hope you'll keep them finger-lickin' clean! :)

Anonymous said...

Libby, I was employed at Parky's Smokehouse for the summer of 2010 in which you visited the restaurant after being solicited with a $50 gift card. I can assure you that EVERYONE WORKING knew exactly who you were. There was a mandatory memo posted in several prominent places in the kitchen with your family's picture as well as a brief description of your family and your blog (every employee had to sign and date it). Employees were reminded every shift to be on the lookout for you. By the time you ordered your drinks, everyone working knew you were a VIP and what table you were at. Parky's does have very good food, but the experience you had is not indicative of an actual Parky's visit the average person will have. I think this is very important information for you to have going forward. I like you blog page very much, I just think that in the future you should avoid such conflicts of interest.

Libby said...

Woah. That is crazy! I can't say I'm totally surprised, but sorry you had to go through that! We have never received any such offers before or since. It was strange to be solicited as we are just a family blog, not some publication or well-known local celebs...VIP..that is hilarious! It was a great experience, and the food was good. I can assure you that situation has never and will never rise again. ;)
Libby of FLOE