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Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 12/06/2011

Smoke Signals: Taking the Bus back home


The BBQ Bus is parking itself for a week. (BBQ Bus)
The BBQ Bus is taking itself off the streets for a week to throw what its owners, Che and Tadd Rudell-Tabisola, call a “holiday house party.” The party, though, will be in someone else’s house. Well, someone else’s vacant upstairs space.

The first in a new program for “traveling restaurants” called Uncurbed DC, the BBQ Bus will serve its smoked meats and sides Dec. 13-17, from 6 to 10 p.m., in the second-story space of a vacant rowhouse at 2805 M St. NW. The partners plan to bring furniture and even photos from their own house to give the space a homey feel.

“Before the BBQ Bus, we used to do a lot of entertaining at home, and this gave us the opportunity to do that again,” Che said.

Customers can bring an unwrapped toy to put under the decorated Christmas tree for the Metropolitan Community Church Toy Drive. The menu will include the same dry-rubbed smoked pulled pork, pork ribs, beef brisket, spice-rubbed chicken, German-style potato salad, fire-roasted corn and coleslaw the owners serve from their truck.

At this writing, decisions were pending on whether they would add holiday dishes to the menu and serve booze.

Pop-ups by other trucks are in the works but none are definite, said Uncurbed organizer Jeff Kelley of the Eat Wonky truck. “We want to learn from this one before deciding on any others,” he said.

Rocklands holiday spirit. One tradition this time of year is Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company offering special holiday foods. Seasonal items include grilled rack of lamb with Thai sweet chili and garlic sauce, whole smoke ham with whiskey mustard sauce, cornbread stuffing and horseradish mango chutney. Ask about its off-menu apps: mini-turkey sandwiches with cranberry-orange mayonnaise, bacon-wrapped dates and white chocolate brie cups (huh?).

Memphis opens. Memphis Barbeque in Crystal City opened yesterday for lunch and dinner after delaying its planned Dec. 1 opening from its planned late-October opening. The reason for the most recent delay: They didn’t get their liquor license and wanted to have everything in place before starting operations.

Memphis will be open seven days a week, with a brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

Standard closes (sorta). The Logan Circle barbecue joint and beer garden closed yesterday for winter. It will reopen March 1.

Pork Barrel redux. The long-awaited and much-hyped grand opening of Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray last Tuesday drew huge crowds, curious about the restaurant that is partly owned by the two guys behind the highly successful Pork Barrel BBQ competition team and sauce company.

It is unfair to judge a restaurant during its first weeks, but this one had so much publicity surrounding it, a glimpse at the early returns seems warranted. A quick spin on the Internet indicates that reviews were mixed.

A sample from Yelp, where the highest rating is five stars, reveals an overall rating of three stars (from nine total reviewers). A sample: “Mike T” (3 stars) said, “[T]he pork and the brisket were moist, but not very flavorful,” adding that the latter lacked smoke flavor; “Richard M” (2 stars) was “underwhelmed”; “Maggie H” (4 stars) praised the pork sandwich as “excellent,” though spilled more ink on the “gorgeous” interior; “Elite ‘11” (4 stars) pronounced the brisket “AWESOME,” with a “thick bark, deep red smoke ring and really flavorful.”

At Urbanspoon, Pork Barrel, curiously, wasn’t mentioned in the site’s top 10 “Talk of the Town” section of “recently reviewed and blogged about restaurants.” Nor was there anything on chowhound.com, except for “alkapal”on Dec. 1 saying he was anxious for it to open.

If you’ve been to Pork Barrel — or any other barbecue joint, for that matter — tell Smoke Signals what you thought, either in the comments below or at jimshahin@aol.com. Follow Smoke Signals on Twitter @jimshahin.

By  |  08:00 AM ET, 12/06/2011

Categories:  Smoke Signals | Tags:  Jim Shahin

 
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