Wednesday, January 27, 2010

John Hardy’s - Rochester, MN

A few years back, Gerd and I went down to Rochester to visit my friend BatHater. He said we had to eat at Roscoe’s Ribs and Barbeque. He said there was another BBQ place in town, but he wasn’t a fan of it, so we had to eat at Roscoe’s (which was delicious, by the way). Recently, I got a recommendation from TripleAxel and KatieAquatic for the very place that BatHater said was not good. It was time to find out once and for all. I set up the date with all three of them and we agreed to meet at John Hardy’s.

I drove the 1.5 hours in the rain down to Rochester and got their first. I went inside and found us a booth to sit at in the sunroom (even though it was 31 degrees and dark outside). It’s kind of a low-key atmosphere and not all overdone with decorations. I even took a photo, so you know what I’m talking about.

Everyone arrived at the same time and I made the introductions and got sort of a lay of the land from TripleAxel and KatieAquatic – they told us how they got started eating this BBQ and how it compared to Roscoe’s and also some suggestions for what to get. This place has 6 different levels of BBQ sauce as well – mild, medium, and hot; and then three additional levels of increasingly insane hot-full-ness. I was starving, since I had only eaten one piece of pizza at lunch (thanks for buying EnyaFace!) and needed to eat considerable amounts of meat. I ordered a half slab of ribs and a plate of the pulled pork. It comes with two sides, so I went with baked beans and the JoJo potatoes. They also have Pepsi products, so I could get my Dew. Wurd.

The food came out really quickly (like a lot of bbq places since it’s mostly already made). And because I was seriously excited about eating it, I totally forgot to take a photo of it. My apologies. I had BBQ on the brain.

I’ll start with the pulled pork – it was a little drier than I expected. I guess I thought it would be a little juicier. But with a dousing of hot bbq sauce, it tasted REALLY good. I’m a fan of this stuff. The ribs, which I was really looking forward to, were kind of a disappointment. They had good meat flavor, but the gristle and cartilage didn’t thrill me. They were a little tough and chewy and very difficult to eat. A LOT of gnawing which doesn’t usually make my day better. The sauce didn’t thrill me either. There wasn’t much body to it and it seemed like it was just a liquid mechanism for heat, without flavor. It worked well in the pulled pork, but on the ribs, all it did was run off the meat and all over my hands. The baked beans had a good flavor, despite being onion-y, so I was happy with those. But the JoJo potatoes (basically circular-sliced fried potatoes) were just ok.

As a whole, I thought John Hardy’s was much better than I expected and even BatHater changed his thinking on it (since it was NINE years ago the last time he had their food). I’d steer clear of the ribs, but the pulled pork was really good and you can decide what level of spice you want with it (you WILL need the sauce though). I’m still a bigger fan of Roscoe’s for multiple reasons, but I was glad we went there. I always have a good time with those guys and I don’t get to Rochester often enough to visit. And next time I WILL find a way to pay for your meal, BatHater.

Top 5 things about John Hardy’s
1. Pulled Pork
2. Baked Beans
3. They have DEW
4. Variety of heat levels for sauce
5. It’s a down-home BBQ place without being dirty or sketchy

Bottom 5 things
1. It’s too far out of the TC to be part of the Twin Cities Rib Quest
2. The location on US-52 is tricky to get to after you see it from the highway
3. Ribs aren’t the best texture
4. The sauce wasn’t the best in the world – lacked some body
5. I’m still a little let down by the JoJo potatoes (but that’s just me – everyone else liked them)

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