Friday, January 4, 2013

Q Fanatic - Champlin, MN (Bar-B-Quest Championship!)

Here it is – the final round of the 2013 Bar-B-Quest Championship! This is for all the marbles. We ate at C.G. Hooks Eatery in White Bear Lake yesterday to make sure we have the closest head-to-head comparison of ribs possible. Here’s who Q Fanatic had to beat to get into the championship round: Mr. Pig Stuff, Ted Cook’s (#2 seed), Rudolph’s, and Baldy’s (#1 seed in the Western division). Again, an impressive list of BBQ and I’m sure there are a few names you’ll recognize on that list.

After eating at 20 rib places in the Twin Cities Metro, we are going to determine who serves the best BBQ ribs in the Twin Cities. I apologize to the winners for not having any sort of cash prizes, but knowing they did an incredible job will hopefully be enough. (Who knows, maybe we’ll whip up a trophy of some sort, just for the heck of it…)

First, the review of this outing at Q Fanatic. We’d been here recently in the semi-final round, but were anxiously looking forward to coming back. This time, we brought D.Rough, LowVee, HotGirlsBrother, and HotGirlHerself. I wasn’t worried – Q Fanatic can handle us. We got another one of those ridiculous picnic combinations they have that comes with a bunch of pulled meat. Then we also got a full slab of Baby Back ribs. All of these come with sides, so we got potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans, and two orders of mac and cheese. D.Rough was going to do her own thing today, so she ordered a Q-ban (pronounced Cuban) sandwich. Pulled ham and pork with mustard and cheese, and a side of the parmesan potato gratinee. And of course you’ve heard us rave about Q Fanatic’s cookies – today they had a change from the best monster cookies in the world. It was a bourbon walnut cookie. So we bought four of them. hahahaha

This place brings out the food pretty quick, thanks to the brand new smokers they have on the side of the building. They’re actually going into a remodel period, so they’ll be closed the first part of January. They’ll be back, though – they promise.

Sides first.

Potato Salad – Seriously, this is really amazing potato salad – some of the best I’ve ever eaten. I’m not a connoisseur, but it is honestly fantastic. Not too mustardy and the potatoes are bite sized and seasoned well. It’s a tough call whether it beats out Baldy’s potato salad.

Baked Beans – Incredible. I love their baked beans and the huge chunks of meat in them. Again, I want them spicier for some reason, but it doesn’t matter, they’re the best I’ve had for years. Definitely, the best of the Bar-B-Quest.

Cole Slaw – Simple and straight forward (this time, a little on the vinegar-y side), but when eaten with the ribs, they’re even better. Cooling flavors mixed with spicy ribs are always a winning combination.

Mac and Cheese – The best mac and cheese on the Bar-B-Quest. Made with real cheese and not come packaged stuff. We love this stuff and always end up fighting over it – that’s why we got the double order.

D.Rough’s Parmesan Potato Gratinee – We all thought this was really good. D.Rough appeared to have hit one cold spot in the potatoes, but every bite I had was really delicious and hot. I ran into a few onions, which I wasn’t expecting, but honestly, the cheesy flavor was really good.

I didn’t get a review of the Q-Ban sandwich, mainly because I was shoveling ribs and mac and cheese into my face. When I stopped to breathe, I noticed the sandwich was mostly gone. I missed my chance, but based on the comments from D.Rough, the sandwich was quite good. Plus it was HER sandwich and I wasn’t technically supposed to be eating off of her sandwich. Hahahaha. It looked really fantastic, though.

The pulled meats: Delicious as usual. The pulled pork is really good, but it still doesn’t compare to the pulled chicken. I have never had that issue at a BBQ place before. The pulled pork always wins, but not this time. The chicken at Q Fanatic is really special. Great seasoning and flavor. The brisket here is also fork tender and super moist. Its goes great on a sandwich, as well. Which leads me right into the garlic buttered rolls… These little rolls are some of the best around. And to put this awesome pulled meat onto the roll is to make a little bite of heaven. Thankfully, we ended up with about 8 rolls between all of us. Dang, these are good.

The ribs: The ribs here are absolutely mind-blowing. Perfect bark all the way across the top of the really meaty ribs. Fantastic smoke flavor. No gristle and very little fat. Amazing vodka pepper BBQ sauce. I can’t rave about these enough. The meat comes right off the bone and you just can’t stop eating them. If we didn’t always order enough food for 15 people, I’m sure I would be able to finish a whole rack on my own. They’re delicious. They do have other sauces, including one or two at the table, but we all stick with the vodka pepper sauce. It’s wonderful.

And for the record, the monster cookie is still the way to go here. The bourbon walnut cookie was good, but not life changing.

So….. who is going to win the 2012 Bar-B-Quest challenge of the Twin Cities???!!! It was a really tough decision, to be honest. But I’ll post the winner soon. Again, here’s the bracket we’ve been dealing with over the past 16 months or so…


Anonymous said...

Some of the Q fanatic staff took a road trip to Kansas City for a remodeling break. Our Que is legit up against the best in Q town!! Joe's was the best of the four we tried and ours is just as good. IMO
No trophy necessary, your opinion is generous enough.

Chao said...

Glad to hear it. Despite my hatred of Kansas City as an actual city, I do love the BBQ there. And yeah, Q Fanatic is right up there with the best they have. I'm sooooo glad I don't have to drive 7 hours to get good BBQ!