Another barbecue review. Yawn.
But, since Warren lost about its only barbecue places* when both Rub and Red, Hot & Blue closed, I’m going to go ahead and push one on you. (*Yes, Lazybones delivers to Warren, but they are located in Roseville, so just stick with me here.)
The Victory Inn at Mound and 12 Mile is a bar and grill which has been around since the closing of WWII (hence, the name), and at least since the seventies has primarily been catering to UAW guys who work in office buildings and are obsessed with hunting toys. To the proprietors’ credit, they raised one of the NFL’s great offensive linemen while operating the bar, a boy who is considered one of the key blockers for O.J. Simpson during the greatest rushing 14-game season ever (the original 2,000+ yards, year).
If I don’t yet have you hooked, let me also add that a little over a year ago, a couple entrepreneurs rented some space in the parking lot behind Victory Inn and welded together two 40 foot sea containers to make a rustic “barbecue annex.” For whatever reason, that permanent looking annex only operates on Fridays and Saturday’s from11am to 8pm.
Though the independent entrepreneurs (calling themselves “Victory Smokehouse”) claim to have an advanced-design smoking contraption, it does seem to be lacking in one feature: a vent. All the smoke just wafts into the slicing and wrapping area. Perhaps this explains why the poor guys can only bear to work two days per week at the facility? Dear Guys: I want you to add a vent so that you will not get respiratory disease and so that you can stay open seven days per week. From the bottom of my heart.
Finally to the food. I ordered pulled pork, “brisket,” and cheddar kielbasa. I also tried to order smoked pork belly (whoa!), but they were out. Darn, gotta go back. Okay, the pulled pork did not grab my attention. The portion was the most generous of all, and it was moist (arguably over-brined/watery). Many people will like this pulled pork, particularly on a sandwich. Still, it struck me as boring for whatever reason, fair or unfair.
The brisket was a bait and switch. It was tri tip, not brisket. I should have been offended by the misrepresentation, particularly since I love brisket. But, the tri tip was super interesting and new to me. Just, wow! Really tender, without needing to be heated and broken down for hours and hours. Almost medium, rather than well done (as required by brisket). Practically like a well-marbled smoked prime rib. Serendipity.
Next was the custom-made cheddar kielbasa. Victory smoked the heck out of it, to the point where the fat liquefied and the casing became chestnut-colored and delicately brittle. I loved it. Oh, but a warning: all three meats, much to my surprise (rightly or naively), had been slathered in a mild tomato barbecue sauce!!!!! The mellow sauce turned out okay for me, but I was a bit horrified when I got home and first opened my boxes to see a bath of thin, candied-apple looking sauce.
Finally were the sides. All were okay. Not great. They took an industrial can of pork and beans and stirred in a very generous portion of leftover pulled pork. Fine. Did the trick. I personally felt the mac and cheese had very nice flavor, but I would expect others to debate the dish’s virtue. Lastly was the homemade coleslaw. Edible. Some will like it. At least it was an original recipe.
Some time I want to try one of their sandwiches, which purportedly come on a homemade bun. If next time is at the dinner hour, though, I’m going for the smoked pork belly, and maybe beef ribs (beef!). Yup, I urge you to give these guys a try some Friday or Saturday if you live in, or close to, Warren. You can also eat there at the inn and catch a game on the TVs, but I’d recommend you not deliver any minor door dings while in the parking lot or anything that could be construed as a politically-tinged statement while squeezed into the dining area, as it is a rather crusty crowd.