Monday, December 29, 2008

Return to Barn Burner

It had been a couple years since I'd been to Barn Burner. I really didn't have any desire to ever return. Saturday I was at the airport to pick up a friend of mine coming in from New Zealand, and the flight was delayed by a couple hours. Except nobody had bothered to post that on the internet or even at the airport terminal, so I just waited around for a couple hours wondering when the hell he was going to show up. By the time he did I was starving, and my phone was dead from all the internet surfing I was doing to kill time.

So I stopped by my place to get my phone charger. Barn Burner is close by, and when I gave my friend some choices for lunch, barbecue sounded good to him. When we walked in there were only two tables occupied. This seemed strange at 1 PM on a Saturday. After eating our lunch, it did not seem so strange.

We started with an order of onion rings. They were good - beer battered and crispy. It would have been nice to have something other than ranch dressing with them, but they were good enough that they didn't even need sauce.

I got the pulled chicken sandwich. It was one of the driest sandwiches I have ever had. There was no moisture to it at all. I had trouble even swallowing the first bite. I got a side of slaw with the sandwich, which was good, so I added it to the sandwich, along with plenty of their barbecue sauce, which is much too sweet for me, but at least it made the sandwich somewhat edible. (I only ate half of it and left the other half in my friends' refrigerator; I will be interested to see what they say if they ate it.)

My buddy got a sandwich with pulled pork, brisket, and hot links. He sawed off a part of it for me to try. It was better than my sandwich, but it was by no means good. The pulled pork was decent, although there wasn't very much of it. The brisket was dry, just like my chicken, and the hot links were very salty.

This was my last trip to Barn Burner.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Jake's Roadhouse (Again)

It had been a long time since I had been to Jake's in Monrovia. (That blog entry was from August, but the meal itself may have been at least two years earlier.) The other day I was helping my mom do some Christmas shopping and she wanted to go to lunch somewhere in Monrovia. I didn't feel like going to any of the nicer restaurants there, and I know my mom likes barbecue like I do, so I suggested Jake's.

I ordered the pulled chicken sandwich (the first picture) and she ordered the pulled pork sandwich. My sandwich was swimming in sauce. You can tell that there is a lot of it in the picture, but what you can't see is that the bottom of the basket is a covered with a pool of their much-too-sweet sauce. Of course, when I took a bite I understood why - the chicken was completely dry and flavorless. I am positive there would have been absolutely no flavor to it without the sauce.

I took a bite of my mom's sandwich and it was much better than mine, similar to how I remember the pulled pork from my last trip. Jake's fries are great, and their slaw is just about perfect: it's got dressing in it but it's not soaked in the dressing to the point that the cabbage is completely limp. I added plenty of slaw to my sandwich with a couple slugs of hot sauce and it made it better.

Despite my sandwich being lousy, I still really like Jake's. The people are nice, the inside is cool, the prices are cheap, and most of the food is decent. Just not the pulled chicken sandwich.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tugg's River Saloon (Minneapolis)

Tugg's River Saloon
219 N Main St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414

A couple of my good friends moved to Minneapolis for businness, and I, always up for a road trip, volunteered to drive with one of them to get her car up there. It was a fanastic trip, through Las Vegas, Denver, Mt. Rushmore, and across the Great Plains into Minnesota. Unfortunately, it was the worst trip I have ever been on in terms of culinary adventures. We ate at a terrible restaurant in Las Vegas that was basically a crappier version of Islands. I ate at Burger King in Denver. I ate at Chili's in Rapid City, South Dakota. The one highlight of the drive there was ordering 10 piece chicken McNuggets at a McDonalds in southern Minnesota and getting 11 pieces. (Actually, I still think about that and smile sometimes.)

The first night in Minneapolis we went out for a sushi meal that was terrible. My friend Dave (or rather my friend Dave's company) paid for the dinner, and I was still upset about it. The next morning was a gorgeous morning so the three of us went for a walk. We crossed over the Mississippi and walked around a bit, then saw a nice outdoor patio and figured we would get some lunch there.

I ordered the "smoked bbq pork sandwich." It was quite possibly the worst sandwich I have ever had. I cannot accurately describe how much fat was on this sandwich. It's possible that at least a third of it was fat. It is the only barbecue sandwich that can compare with the atrocity that was JR's Texas BBQ. I think I had maybe two bites and gave up.

The rest of the weekend wasn't much better for finding good food. Months later, when my friends had gotten familiar with the area, they told me that their loft was only a couple blocks from the best food street in Minneapolis and they couldn't understand how we possibly kept missing it when we went out looking for food. (Apparently it would be analogous to staying at the Marriott in Old Pasadena and missing Colorado Blvd every time you went out for a walk.) I kind if wish they'd never told me that.