Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Market BBQ – Minneapolis, MN (Rib Quest 2011)

HotGirlsBrother and I set up a date to continue the Rib Quest 2011 adventure. Even though Low-Vee cancelled on us at the last minute, she gave us her blessing to sally forth without her. This round, Market BBQ was on the slate. I had heard some negative things about the place, but tried to keep an open mind when I went in.

For starters, the place has a huge parking lot behind the restaurant, so don’t be a dummy and look for a meter spot like I did. HotGirlsBrother eventually saved me with a txt msg that said to park behind, so I didn’t waste any quarters. I walked in the back door and down this really long hallway to the front of the place.

To my surprise, the front of the building has a full bar. Perfect. However, I was a little low on cash, so I decided to skip the exploitation of the full bar. I got seated back in the dining room with my partner in BBQ crime. It’s much larger and brighter inside than I expected, based on comments from friends. There’s a lot of checkerboard table cloths and mostly-functioning personal jukeboxes at each table. Oh yeah, and also a giant fat stuffed pig sitting on top of the main juke box.

One hilarious thing we saw while sitting there was the astonishing number of single males sitting by themselves eating ribs. Just a heads-up: if you’re a single lady who likes BBQ, this could be the next hot pick-up place to bag a gentleman lover. It’s already got a meat market feel to it… hahahaha (please tell me you got that joke)

The menu had some good looking things on it, but we were here for one thing. Ribs. Half slab and maybe some fries, and that’s it. Oh yeah, I had to talk myself out of ordering a Mike’s Hard Lemonade for comedy factor, as well. Maybe if we had sat out on the three-table patio out back I might have. I got a bottle of Cream Soda instead (Henry Weinhard brand). HotGirlsBrother got a beer, since they have that there – this may be one of the first place (aside from Rudolph’s) that we could get drinks at – awesome! The server was really nice to us and assured us it wouldn’t be long. It wasn’t, actually!

The food comes out just like I like it – on cafeteria trays without plates. The ribs are on a piece of waxed paper and the buttered toast and fries are thrown right on there as well. The cole slaw does come in a bowl, which I suppose makes sense. Then the server brought us out a handful of wet-naps (which we all know is a make-or-break deal for Low-Vee) and toothpicks.
I started with the cole slaw. I’m not a cole slaw eater, but lately, I’ve been trying to like it. And honestly, it was one of the best ones I’ve had to date. Again, I’m not a connoisseur, but I did really like it. It looks like it’s going to be super mayo-ey, but it isn’t. It’s creamy and doesn’t have a lot of vinegar taste in it, so maybe that’s why I liked it. HotGirlsBrother also raved about it and said ti was one of the best he’s had and he IS a connoisseur of cole slaw.

The fries went next (still waiting for the ribs to cool down). They were crispy and delicious. Well-cooked ad perfect, frankly. The fries were good with both ketchup or BBQ sauce (I preferred the original flavor to the hot flavor for the fries). Fries aren’t my favorite part of any meal, but these still really hit the spot.

I finally got to the ribs. And oddly, they were still amazingly hot. I’m glad I waited for them. The ribs here are a dry rub and not saucy. I dug into the first rib and really liked the flavor of them, but they were pretty tough. They didn’t fall off the bone at all and you really had to work to get some of the meat to come away from the bone. It didn’t come off in pieces – I didn’t have to keep gnawing on the same spot to get all the meat – but it seemed like the meat had fused to the bone, like it had been cooked too long or not a low enough heat. I’m not sure if these things were smoked or not, but I couldn’t find any hint of smoke flavor. Maybe just too clean of a burning fuel or whatever, but I like a little bit of smokey flavor present.

I tried both the original and the hot BBQ sauce that was on the table. The Hot was my favorite for the ribs, like it usually us. It’s got some tang, and just a little bit of heat. It could have been way hotter, but it did have good flavor, which is more important than heat. The original was pretty good flavor as well. Not very vinegar-y, which is nice (for my personal taste).

Finally, the Cream Soda was decent. About middle of the pack. It isn’t up there with Sprecher or anything, but it’s pretty good, especially when served in a frosty glass like they do at Market BBQ. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten that kind of fancy treatment.

All in all, it’s a solid performance by Market BBQ, especially based on some of the comments friends have made. The ribs were tough, but had good flavor and no fat/gristle. Also, the sides helped out a lot, and the fact they have a full bar doesn’t hurt them. It’s one of the pricier rib places we’ve eaten at, but sometimes, you just have to suck it up and pay what they ask for ribs.

Top 5 things about Market BBQ
1. Rib flavor
2. HOT BBQ sauce
3. Full bar
4. Cole slaw was excellent
5. Served on cafeteria trays, old school style

Bottom 5 things
1. Ribs were tough
2. Our personal jukebox didn’t work
3. There didn’t seem like there was any smoke flavor in the meat at all
4. My toast wasn’t buttered enough – personal preference, but still a let down
5. Low-Vee couldn’t make it. I really value her insight in BBQ matter and the team was severly lacking without her. Next time!

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