Even before I open the door, I'm anticipating the menu at KBQ Real Barbecue. The perfume of wood smoke in the parking lot will do that to a guy.
I'm cheered by what's inside as well. The joint's yellow walls are splashed with vintage album covers from such singing greats as Aretha, Ella, Ray and Sarah (no last names needed). And an old-fashioned Coke dispenser gives the 22-seat KBQ, named after co-owner Kerry Britt, additional charm.
Britt, a son of Florida and former buyer for Sodexo, the food service giant, runs the 11-month-old operation with his wife, Lya Wesley Britt, and his sister-in-law, Shana Wesley. So it's no surprise that the business relies on family recipes for much of the menu, which runs to pork ribs, beef brisket and a half-dozen side dishes. "We're not just blowing smoke!" the list shouts. All the meats are cooked slowly in a wood-fueled smoker and finished on the grill, Wesley says. Sauce is optional; the "original" is zesty with peppers and vinegar.
Did I hit the place on an off day? I wondered when I took a bite of the brisket, which was dry, and a few of the salads, which were too cold. But I enjoyed the smoke-kissed chicken and, once it came to room temperature, the black bean salad. Mixed with roasted corn, green bell pepper and purple onion, those beans delivered a nice kick. Better still was a creamy broccoli salad tossed with raisins.
The lunchtime I dropped by, jazz and R&B, supposedly frequent accompaniments there, were absent from the air. I couldn't help but wish for some music with my meal, and a meal with more of a beat.
Sandwiches, $5.59-$6.59; combinations (with one side dish), $6.49-$7.49.
-- Tom Sietsema (First Bite, Oct. 1, 2008)