Sunday, September 12, 2010

City Barbeque

City Barbeque, a small chain out of Ohio, made the south side the lucky recipient of a new bbq place last week!  You can't have too many bbq joints!  We had been watching for weeks as the final touches were completed and eagerly anticipated the grand opening.  Three large visible smokers only heightened our glee.
We know, why come during the opening?  Service is bound to be bad, food is bound to be worse, right?  Well, in this case, not so much.

At first, we were confused as to where to stand once inside.  It's got the look of a typical chain from the outside, but a less standard layout inside.  You enter from the side of the restaurant and once inside, there is an ordering line immediately to your right.  No real space to stand anywhere other than the line.  Everyone orders for themselves and then you pay, find a seat, then get your food when your name is called.  And it's fast!  Like fast-food fast.  Our food was ready to go by the time we sat down.  Servers meander around to offer beverage refills and clear tables, but otherwise, it's more of a self-serve establishment. 

Seating was a little tight, but after taking it all in while we noshed on some pork, chicken, and brisket, it started to make sense.  It was very much like an upscale-ish bbq shack.  There was all kinds of hoopin and hollerin coming from the kitchen, lots of people around, lots of servers, signs on the wall advertising the peach cobbler or offering to buy your own homemade bbq sauce in exchange for a City Barbeque t-shirt...kind of a different, fun vibe.

So, lets talk about that pork, chicken, and brisket.  We decided to go with the Deluxe City Sampler--quarter chicken, half slab, pulled pork, brisket, and texas toast with two sides, gumbo and corn pudding.  Ozzy had to try his staple dish with hush puppies on the side.  Stella was dining on a bit of everything today.

Well, it was quite a platter.  Where to start?  We decided to start with a bit of pulled pork...oh, but the sauces.  How many were there?  Uh, about 7, we think.  Sadly, the website doesn't go into them, but we can recollect, a mustard sauce, a few sweet options, a couple of spicey and a vinegar.  They were all good.  Like most bbq sauce, it's hard to find one that is bad.  So,we put a little on everything.

The pulled pork was good. Tender, flavorful.  The ribs were disappointing in that they weren't nearly as tender as they could be.  You could taste the smoke, but they were tough and rather than falling off the bone had to be torn off the bone with force.  The brisket was good.  But it was difficult to differentiate the pulled pork from it.  They were side by side and the textures were the only thing that separated their flavors.  Especially when smothered in bbq sauce!  But the sides were awesome!  The corn pudding was just what you want, sweet, moist, buttery and so easy to spoon in.  The gumbo was almost too good to be a side.  On it's own, it had good heat and great sausage chunks.

An unexpected surprise was the texas toast.  Usually a total throw away side or something you don't want to waste tummy space on when eating delicious meats.  But this stuff was different and actually really good.  Kind of sweet and reminiscent of Hawaiian bread or challah. Way soft, it would be the perfect bread for a pulled pork or brisket sandwich...Sadly, we tried it as an afterthought and didn't get the chance to do the whole sandwich thing...that would've been really good. *sigh*  Next time.

The one item we ordered that needed nothing added was their chicken.  Holy smokes!  It was pure perfection.  That was some moist meat.  And such flavor!  Easily the best bbq chicken we've had anywhere.  Next time we go back, it will be more of that chicken and some of this amazing sausage we saw go by our table.  Oh, yeah, it was total eye candy (or should we say meat candy?)....  But will it stand up to Big Guy's sausage? hmmm...

Ozzy didn't share any of the mac 'n cheese, so we're assuming it was "pretty good."  The hushpuppies were never a family favorite and so they were -- dry, oddly fishy and meh.  Stella was very happy with all the meat and the awesome texas toast.

So, all in all, for a grand opening experience, the first lunch they served in Indiana, it seemed to go off without a hitch.  Ozzy even got a free balloon out of the deal! :)

Wrap Up
Price-$$,-Actually, pretty cheap for bbq.  Our platter was the Deluxe City Sampler at 19.99 and was more than enough chow for all of us.  A much smaller combo(with two fewer meats) at Famous Dave's runs 19.99.  We just realized we didn't get the cornbread, but even so, more than enough grub.
Atmosphere**1/2-Fun idea, but still a little awkward.  Needs something.
Service***- Opening day, first was overkill.  Someone was checking on us every 3-5 minutes, but that is to be expected for a good opening.

Fred-B, Had I gotten just a plate of barbeque chicken, this would've been an A+.  But unfortunately, the ribs were shockingly sub-par.  The other meats deserve a B, so therefore, one awesome, one awful--B it is.
Libby-B, Some very high notes and average notes.  I will definitely be back to try out some sausage and get more chicken!  After a few months, we'll have to see where they stand.
Ozzy-A, When asked later, he reported "Really cheesy and yummy."  And he got a free balloon!  Happy boy.
Estelle-A, Girl didn't refuse any bites of food and consistently screamed for more 'til she was full to the brim.  And the screaming was definitely ok. ;)
City Barbeque on Urbanspoon


Scott said...

Thanks for the review. I'll check it out after they have a little more time under their belt. I was wondering, have you ever eaten at Squealer's in Mooresville? It's the best BBQ around here in my opinion. I live on the Southside, and wanted you guys to know I enjoy your blog, and value your opinion on the restaurants. Sounds like Stella already has quite a diverse palette.

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

Libby has tried Squealer's on 86th street, but I have not. If memory serves her only beef was that they didn't have sauces on the table and you only got one sauce with your order rather than the usual plethora of different tastes to try.

While City BBQ does have a few bugs to work out with the ribs, everything else was pretty darned good. It was cheap, fast-food fast & the chicken just flat rocked.

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

Honestly, it has been so long, I don't remember enough to review the Squealers on 86th. We will have to try it or the one in Mooresville as you suggested. Thanks for your comments and yes, we get the feeling Stella will be ordering more than the mac 'n cheese! ;)

David said...

Hi Fred,

I notice you use Urbanspoon badges. Our site,, have badges too with a link to more info, maps and reviews.

The great advantage with using Wimgo badges is that they create a link back to your blog post using the title of your post so they are great at optimizing your posts for search engines.

Hope you give them a try,


Cara said...

I just moved to the southside about 2 months ago. I don't know the area at all and have been looking for a great site that tells about restaurants here. Luckily, I stumbled onto your blog. We tried the City BBQ and got the Delexe Sampler. We loved everything on it but the ribs. They were dry and tuff. The chicken was a big surprise as we got white meat and that is usually dry. This chicken was super juicy. We will definitely be going back again but now I am interested in trying out Squealer's! Thanks again.

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

Couldn't agree more, Cara. How can a BBQ place not have their ribs nailed? But as long as that chicken is around, this place will be high on my list. :) --Fred