Friday, January 20, 2012

4Rivers Smokehouse, Winter Garden

Non-Quest BBQ No 15 – 4Rivers Smokehouse

Winter Garden, Florida

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 ... 

The area around Orlando has a confusing variety of settlements that have “Winter” as part of their names. Winter Park, Winter Hills, Winter Garden … you name it, they have it. This is even more confusing if you take into account that the normal winter in this region consists of low temperatures around the half hundred mark, blue skies and sun all day, and that most people can’t even remember how it feels to make a snow angel. Maybe it is some kind of reverse psychology at work here, indicating that these places are the perfect sanctuaries to flee to from the dreary cold and dark skies usually involved with real wintery conditions.

So, after visiting the 4R Smokehouse in Winter Park the other day, I decided to try out the second of three locations of this small chain in Winter Garden.
Why, you ask? Good question, since I really did not like their food that much the first time, at the Winter Park location. Well, when I left the restaurant that evening, something caught my eye which intrigued me. They have a dish there that is called the “Six Shooter” and I just had to absolutely try this.
The Six Shooter consists of cheese grits topped with pulled pork, southern slaw, pickles, jalapenos and 4R sauce.
Strange concoction, isn’t it? But let me tell you this – it works. Even with the dreadful 4R sauce on it.
Or maybe because of it. There are so many layers of different texture and flavor, and they all work together splenditiously.
Except for the jalapenos, which I removed right away – too much Tex-Mex for my taste. I like them in burritos or tacos, but do not necessarily need too see them with anything related to BBQ.

The whole heap of food, again slapped directly onto the paper on the tray, looks less inviting than your typical road kill. Think exploded carcass, a big blob of anything that can be scraped off the blacktop on a hot smoldering summer day.
The process of preparing this culinary extravaganza starts with a block of compact cheese grits that is chopped into dice-sized pieces. Then comes a good helping of the pulled pork – unnecessarily drenched in the red 4R signature sauce, but since I already discussed my dismay of this practice exhaustively in the post before, I’ll let it slide this time – followed by their extremely good southern slaw, the jalapenos and the pickle. And then some more sauce. Lord have mercy.
But this time, the sauce actually is a perfect match, because it provides sweetness and a hint of bitterness to the heartiness of the cheese grits and the creamy sourness of the slaw.
The grits could as well stand on their own merits, they have a very creamy texture and a wonderfully full cheese flavor. Together with the other ingredients, it forms a very unique symbiosis of flavors. And for just under ten bucks with a drink, and taking also into account the sheer volume of food you get, this Six shooter hits the mark.

For this, I would come back gladly to the 4R chain. It seems to me as such a natural thing to combine grits with pulled pork, that I wonder why I haven’t seen this in one of our BBQ joints here in Northern Bama yet. How fantastic it could be with real good BBQ sauce, one can only speculate … and dream.

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