HotGirlsBrother and I finally tricked Low-Vee’s schedule into allowing her to come along on a Rib Quest 2011 adventure. We confused her by sending out many different meeting invites until she accidentally said yes – it worked, since she showed up this time!!! Hooray!!! We were also honored with the presence of TheDoctor at this outing, which always raises everyone’s spirits!
This is also the first head to head match we’ve had of the Rib Quest 2011. Baker’s Ribs vs Market BBQ. So keep in mind we’ll be comparing things to Market BBQ, rather than just reviewing it in a vacuum.
Baker’s is close to my office, so I didn’t have to go far to get here. It’s also in a strip mall which bodes well for most places in Minnesota. We popped in and checked out the specials board, which thankfully, had a four-piece rib lunch with a side! Lucky us. Normally it’s a half slab and fries for this challenge, but Baker’s doesn’t have fries. I went up to the counter where all the sides are displayed behind a sort of glass wall and ordered a four-piece rib lunch with a side of coleslaw (I’m new at coleslaw, but trying to learn) and I also got some baked beans (which I paid extra for). The sides get added to the plate and the plate goes back to the man behind the chopping counter. He’s madly chopping up pieces of meat into individual ribs and brisket and such. He throws what we needed onto the plate and hands it back to the cashier guy.
I grabbed a Sioux City Sarsaparilla as well, since it’s been probably 20 years since I’ve had one of those. I paid the man, grabbed plasticware, and we all found a table in the large dining room. Points for having a roll of paper towels on the table! There is a bottle of sauce on each table, so we were good there.
I started with the toast this go around. It looked really big, but wasn’t as awesome as I had hoped it would be. I’m not even sure why. It looked like there was enough butter on it, but it just wasn’t toasty enough. If you’re going to give me bread, then give me bread. If you’re going to give me toast, then make sure it’s toasted. Not some halfway point where it’s sloppy and just this side of crispy.
The coleslaw was actually pretty good. I’ll remind people I’m not a connoisseur or anything (maybe I will be by the end of this Rib Quest), but it was good. Not as good as Market BBQ, but according to HotGirlsBrother, that’s going to be difficult to beat anyway.
I moved to the baked beans. They were REALLY BBQ saucy. I didn’t think there was such a thing, but they were all BBQ saucy. TOO BBQ saucy, in actuality. The flavor that wasn’t BBQ sauce wasn’t all that stellar, so we pretty much decided the beans weren’t good on their own, but made out alright if you dipped your bread or ribs into them.
The ribs we thought were going to win us over from Market BBQ. The meat fell off the bones here at Baker’s. Really juicy pieces of meat. And there was pretty good smoke flavor from them, which we were all pretty happy with. However, the BBQ sauce on the table detracted from the flavor, rather than enhanced it, and it was really really liquidy. This was a pretty big disappointment, since it was looking so promising for Baker’s. The bean juice tasted better than the BBQ sauce, sadly.
In the end, it was a really tough call trying to pit (pun intended) these two places against each other. Market BBQ’s ribs were tougher and didn’t have smoke flavor, but the sauce was really quite good and helped the rib. So if you’re a sauce person, you’re going to like Market a lot better. If you can eat your ribs without sauce, then you’re probably going to like Baker’s.
In a close match, we decided Market BBQ would stand above Baker’s Ribs. Not by much, but the sides and sauce at Market pushed them ahead. We’re trying to go for the whole rib experience, not JUST the ribs (though we still think Market would be slightly ahead in this solitary race, as well). And if you factor in the fact that Market has a full bar, it is inching its way further and further past Baker’s. This means our first battle – between the 9th and 10th seeded rib places – goes to Market BBQ!
And as a bonus, since we’ve already eaten at the place where the winner of this battle was going to compete against, we can safely say that Baldy’s BBQ certainly beats out Market BBQ on pretty much all counts. So we’re well on our way.
In the next few weeks, we’ll be taking down a couple of rib places in the First Four division that we’ve been looking forward to. Stay tuned for the results of those matches.
Top 5 things about Baker’s Ribs
1. Fall of the bones meat on the ribs
3. Lots of delicious soda to choose from
4. Plenty of daily specials (we liked the fact that there was a diet rib plate with four bones instead of six)
5. Super close to work for me
Bottom 5 things
1. BBQ sauce wasn’t that good
2. Baked Beans were basically BBQ sauced beans
3. Underwhelming Texas toast
4. It isn’t very cheap
5. We had to look for wet naps, which we really needed