I will make a confession. I hate, HATE, writing about BBQ restaurants. It is a losing proposition because no matter what you say about the BBQ - good or bad - there is instant disagreement. There are raging debates on BBQ all over the Internets and, ultimately, they end up in shouting matches with someone finally saying, "Jane, you ignorant sl*t."
However, I would be remiss in my duties as a restaurant reviewer if I skipped a BBQ restaurant just because of the heat. So, I decided to grab Dave and Neil and we headed out to try the newest BBQ restaurant in town.
Bobby-Q took up residence in the old Bobby McGee's restaurant on the Frontage road just south of Dunlap on I-17. You can't miss the place at night with its twinkle lights and big signs all pointing out that it has the best BBQ in the world.
We pulled into the parking lot and made our way to the entrance. As we entered we noticed that there was a bouncer guarding the entrance to our right that led up some stairs to a nightclub. There was also a cover fee of $7.00, but we were here for the grub, not schmoozing and we walked strait ahead into the restaurant.
We were greeted and seated immediately. Since it was about 8:45 PM, the place was not completely full and we had a nice table in the center of the dining room. The table itself had two wooden chairs on one side and then a movable booth-like seat on the opposite side for two. We sat down, reviewed our menus and waited for our server.
The menu has what one would expect: ribs, chicken, beef, fish, pork, sides, desserts, etc. There was nothing particularly new or innovative on the menu, but the true test was in the preparation of the meat and the sauce. Our server arrived and we ordered drinks and an appetizer. Neil wanted to be fashionable for the evening and ordered the Q-Lounge Cosmopolitan ($7.00). Dave ordered the Raspberry Margarita ($7.00). As the driver, I went with the Diet Coke ($2.50). We also ordered the Rustic BBQ Chicken Cheese Quesadilla ($7.50).
As we waited for our drinks, I surveyed the interior. The place is dark and decorated with lots of paraphenalia about Texas and the Low Country of the South and the like. It is nice inside, but I would have liked it a tad brighter. Dave was concerned about the noise level. It was fairly loud when we were there, so I could only imagine what it would be like with a full house. I asked Neil what he thought about the atmosphere and he said, "I like the oxygen and nitrogen mix myself." And this was before he got his booze for the evening.
Our server returned with water and a basket of corn cakes. I was very pleased by the little treat. In a plastic basket lined with checkerboard paper, three biscuit sized corncakes sat atop each other with a side of butter. We each grabbed a cake, slathered it with butter and began eating. I liked the corncake very much. It was soft, moist and slightly sweet. The butter definitely put it over the top and I was clamoring for more. Dave and Neil enjoyed them as well.
Our server then took our order. We each decided to try a combo to get a full taste of the menu offerings. Dave and I chose the Two Meat Combo ($17.00 each), which came with a choice of two sides. Neil, feeling much more hungry, went with the Three Meat Combo ($19.00), which also came with two sides.
Next to our table were the drinks and the quesadilla. Before diving into the appetizer, Dave and Neil tried their drinks. Neil said his Cosmo was decent, but institutional. Dave had the exact same reaction to his Raspberry Margarita. They said they were good, but not stellar and certainly were not going to win any awards.
With that, we dove into the quesadilla. The tortilla was crisp and tasty. The cheese had been thoroughly melted and was quite stringy and delicious. The chicken was good, too, but I couldn't discern any BBQ flavor on the chicken. Perhaps it played second fiddle to the cheese, but in any case, I wish it would have had more BBQ flavor. Otherwise, it would just be another - albeit good - chicken quesadilla.
One disappointing part of the quesadilly, however, were the salsa, sour cream and guacamole that came with it. All three were shoved into a very small ramekin. There simply wasn't enough to honestly enhance the quesdilla.
We finished our appetizer and Neil and Dave polished off their beverages before ordering Iced Tea ($2.50) and another Diet Coke for the table. A few minutes passed before our server brought out meals.
For my dinner, I had selected the two meat combination with the Smoked Beef Brisket and the BBQ Sliced Pork. For my sides, I chose the cole slaw and the macaroni and cheese. The large platter set before me had two piles of meat topped with the BBQ sauce and the cole slaw off to the side. The mac and cheese was in a separate bowl set on the plate.
I first tried the brisket. It was tender, moist, smokey and very full of flavor. I gave it a big thumbs up because it was very well prepared with plenty of taste and a very pleasant aroma. Next, I tried the BBQ Slice Pork. It was decent. The pork was slighly dry, but not horribly so. The flavor was slightly smokey and salty. It was okay, but clearly not as good as the brisket. The cole slaw was pretty tasty, if not institutional. It was cold, crunchy, creamy and not sickeningly sweet. The addition of some fresh ground pepper really made it shine and I was pleased. The mac and cheese was excellent. The noodles were al dente and the cheese sauce creamy and smooth. I could have had two servings of it.
Dave decided to get the Smoked Beef Brisket and the Smoked Link Sausage combo, and he chose the macaroni and cheese and shoestring fries. He found the Brisket to be very good as well. He liked the flavor because it was so smokey. What he didn't like, however, was the sauce. He found Bobby-Q's sauce to be unremarkable and uninventive. As much as he didn't like the sauce, he disliked the link sausage that much more. He said it was bland, flavorless and mealy. While it looked decent enough, Dave said there was nothing inspiring about it.
He did adore the macaroni and cheese. The shoestring fries, on the other hand, needed some more substance. He said they were cut way too thin and there was no excuse for the sogginess that seemed to take over shortly after arrival at our table.
Dave also tried the "spicy" BBQ sauce our waiter brought, but he, Neil and I could distinguish no difference between the regular and the spicy sauce. Whatever the difference was, it was not discernable by any of us at the table.
Neil's platter was covered with his selctions of the Beef Brisket, the Sliced Pork and the St. Louis Ribs. His favorite was the brisket, followed by the ribs and the pork. He said all were good, but the ribs and pork just couldn't hold a candle to the brisket. He said the ribs were tender and flavorful, but paled in comparison to the richness of the brisket.
He state his Baked Potato was average, but good, and his grilled vegetables were decent and, thankfully, not mushy. Overall, he was pleased with his meal, but would have preferred sticking with the brisket.
As we finished our meals, we knew the two big winners were the brisket and the mac and cheese. One could do worse than a big plate of those two. We thought over all that our meals were pretty good, but there could be some improvements on some technical details and a review of the sausage.
As we waited for our bill, we chatted about our experience and noted that the restaurant had pretty much emptied out. As our bill was presented, Dave mentioned that this past week had been my birthday and the waiter wanted to know if I wanted dessert. I really wasn't up for a dessert and thanked him for the thought.
He disappeared for one more refresh of drinks and returned with a "cup cake," a big coffee mug turned upside down with a birthday candle on top. It was a sweet gesture and illicited a laugh from me and the table. To be honest, I would have loved to have snagged that mug. That thing would have been perfect for my office.
We settled up the bill and our total with tax was $79.40. We thought it was an okay value. I did think that the price to portion ratio was in favor of the restaurant and Bobby-Q could have given more substantial portions or lowered the combo prices by about a dollar.
Our server appeared again to collect the bill and payment and gave us a small paper sack as a "Thank-Q" for our patronage. Inside were three small cake donuts that had been freshly cooked. They were simple and could have used a sprinkling of powdered sugar or cinnamon, but it was nice.
We departed the restaurant and passed the few people paying their cover to get into the club above Bobby-Q.
All in all, it was pretty good grub at Bobby-Q. We walked away pleased. The food was decent, the service was attentive, and the atmosphere, while dark and somewhat noisy, was comfortable. We would return again.
So, now I have ventured into the great BBQ debates. In order to assist, I will just cut to the quick:
Seth, you ignorant sl*t.
8501 North 27th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85051
Notes: The club above Bobby-Q has a $7 cover charge and dress is classy business casual on up.