Wednesday, October 10, 2012

C.G. Hooks Eatery – White Bear Lake, MN (Bar-B-Quest 2012)

It’s been a while since we’d had a Bar-B-Quest outing, thanks to a ton of busy summer schedules. But we’re back on track to finish this whole thing up. I won’t do a complete review of C.G. Hooks, since HotGirlsBrother and I went there a previous round and declared them fantastic. Basically, we had to bring LowVee here so she could verify we weren’t on crack and so she could compare it to the upcoming bracket (see the below bracket if you’re confused by this).
C.G. Hooks serves wine and beer, as well as 1919 root beer. That's got to give it some points, right????
We started with some Dixie Chips (basically JoJo fries). (I’ll forget to mention I was late and LowVee and HotGirlsBrother had to order these as their own appetizer so they wouldn’t starve to death while I rolled in 15 minutes late). They had good flavor to them, since they were sprinkled with the dry rub seasoning C.G. Hooks uses on its ribs. Great flavor, but they were a little floppy. I wished they were super crispy and then we would have raved about them, for sure.
The food is another thing though. The sides are soooooo good. The baked beans are filled with GIANT beans, some kind of meat, delicious seasonings, and probably something else magical. We love these beans and they will not disappoint. The coleslaw is also delicious. It’s got some tang to it (they might have changed their recipe since the last time we were there), and the right amount of pepper and celery seeds. Really quite a good showing, so far.
The corn bread is described as “fishy”. Don’t be alarmed, it isn’t dipped in fish guts or anything. It’s just shaped like a fish. It’s also really sweet. My pieces was a tad dry for my liking, but it comes with butter, so I fixed that right up. Thankfully, the flavor is top notch and made my mouth happy.
The ribs were being anxiously awaited by all of us. The last time we came here (as a group)(I’ve come a couple of other times – don’t tell those guys that), we got a small dipping container of one sauce. The sauce was good, thankfully. This time, we had our choice of six different sauces. THAT’s what I’m talking about. And we tried ALL of them, including various combinations of them. Here they are lined up in order of our democratically-voted preference.
  • Memphis – we’re not a fan of cinnamon in our sauce, which was why it was voted bottom of the list.
  • Carolina Gold – a mustard based sauce that just didn’t trip our trigger.
  • Pineapple Sauce –which I really WANTED to like, but didn’t care for it as much as I had hoped. Maybe with something other than ribs it would have been awesome.
  • Carolina Vinegar – really an excellent sauce (vinegary, oddly enough).
  • Ghost sauce – This one brought the heat, but thankfully, also brought the flavor. We liked this one in moderation.
  • Sweet K.C. – really tasty sauce that we thought was probably the best if you had to pick one.
We didn’t have to pick one, which ruled. We decided the best option was one part Ghost, two parts K.C., and a splash of Carolina Vinegar. Mix that up, and you’ve got Jesus in a dish.
Aside from the sauce, the meat on the ribs was melt in your mouth kind of stuff. The dry rub had an incredible flavor (told you so, LowVee) and there was very little fat to contend with on the bones. We knew this place was going to get a high rating from LowVee when she actually finished her entire half slab. It may not have been that she was hungry, but more the fact that she didn’t want to share these ribs with anyone. ANYONE. These are seriously delicious ribs.
And to top everything off, we had room for ice cream. C.G. Hooks is partly an ice cream shop and has really fun non-standard flavors of ice cream. After much sampling of flavors, I finally decided on the Cookie Dough and also a scoop of Blue Moon (it’s fruit loop flavored ice cream – why the hell WOULDN’t I get that?). Soooo good. I’d also recommend the cake batter one that LowVee and HotGirlsBrother got. All of us were pretty darn excited after this particular visit.

This Bar-B-Quest is going to be a really difficult decision when we get to the final rounds. I’m looking forward to it more than I should be.

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