Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Non-Quest BBQ No 6 – O’Boys Bar-B-Q
During my occasional travels, I try to sample BBQ at those near and far away places outside the Quest area. I just really, really like that stuff ...
We all go through life, deeply troubled by questions of eternal and infinite significance, like “Who am I?”, or “What is my purpose in life?”, or “Is there life after death?”, or even “Is there intelligent life in the universe?”.
When you are in the Orlando area and get the itch for BBQ, an additional question will invariably pop up: Why the heck are they slicing their meat??!
Everybody here in North Alabama knows that only pulled meat can deliver the kind of sublime delight that ultimately and rightfully makes BBQ such a cultural icon in the South.
But in Orlando (and Mississippi – see my Vicksburg post …) they just ignore common wisdom and stubbornly do it the wrong way.
It’s got to be the tourists. No, seriously, could you imagine an Englishman sitting in front of a plate with pulled pork after a long hard day touristing at Disney World and not going: “Good Lord! That’s exploded …!!” ?
So, to make it more agreeable to the mainstream Alien from across the pond, they slice the meat. What a shame. No, it’s downright blasphemic for all us disciples of the North Alabama Smoked Church of All Ribs (NASCAR). And it really, really does not taste that good, either.
Why then, do I even go to these places? It is a service to humanity, really. To warn every self-respecting BBQ connoisseur of the perils that lay hidden in those lands where the dictatorship of mainstream culture let’s only the façade remain, but hollows out the true meaning and purpose behind it.
O’Boys Bar-B-Q (the “O’ ” stands for “Orlando”, and not for “Old”, as I suspected first …) can be found in two locations in Orlando. I was at the place on South Orange Avenue, which has the layout of your usual mainstream sports bar, with flat screen TV’s all over the place, a bar area, posters of local football teams on the walls, between two huge Auburn flags … hey, wait a minute! Isn’t that kind of weird? Can anybody imagine having a Gators flag hanging in, say, any of the BBQ places around Huntsville? Well, maybe it would stay up long enough to call the cops, because surely someone must have broken in at night and place this thing here … damn college students with their silly pranks!
Other than that oddity, the place is friendly and clean, and so is the staff … well, I didn’t really check the cleanliness … you know what I mean.
Since I was very hungry from the flight and hadn’t eaten much the whole day (don’t tell my wife …), I decided to go for the overkill – the 3 meat combo, with Ribs, Pork, and Beef. All sliced. Except for the Ribs, they came still on the bone. But you get the picture.
And, oh boy, for around seventeen bucks with a drink, they bring you a lot of food!
As sides I had fries, because in all of Orlando they don’t seem to know the concept of potato salad, baked beans, and slaw. On top of this, they packed two humongous slabs of Texas toast. A lot of food. Seriously. I am ashamed to concede my inability to eat all of it – I left the fries and some of the beef. Which was sliced. Both of it, the bread and the beef.
So, then I dug into all this, ribs first. Ahem, you know what I mean. First, I ate the ribs, which were not especially tender or in any kind of way of the “fall-off-the-bone” variety. Also, they were a bit too much on the fatty side, but actually very flavorful and I did not need to sauce them up at all.
The pork, however, was in desperate need of a little help from our red sticky liquid friends. It had the texture of card board, the tenderness of wet card board and the taste of … you guessed it, card board!
Alas, the sauces helped a little, but were certainly no revelation by themselves. The sweet sauce was just that – very, very stickingly sweet. The mild sauce was just the sweet sauce with less sweetness, and the hot sauce was just spicy, without any taste of its own. Blending together the mild and the hot sauces, I was able to come up with an almost agreeable mixture.
Which I didn’t really need for the third meat on the plate, the sliced beef. The taste was very savory and smoky, but the whole cut was more fat than meat, and while I like a little fat here and there, it was just too much to stomach. And remember, I already had the fatty ribs in my belly, so I just cut a few choice pieces out of the beef to get an idea of the taste.
By then, I already had no room for the sides anymore, but I tasted them anyways. Funny thing, the taste of the baked beans reminded me strongly of the Chef Boyardee my kids eat occasionally. The slaw was not really bad, not really good, just middle of the road.
The best thing of the whole meal was definitely the Texas toast, which should not be the case in a BBQ joint.
Well, a joint it isn’t per se. They serve the meals on real china plates, with actual metal silverware. It is more of a family restaurant kind of place, certainly geared more towards the Tourists than the local hometown folks.
Oh, wait, no – the best thing of the whole meal was actually the smell of smoked meat that drifted over the parking lot when I arrived. A promise they couldn’t really keep.