Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Joey's Smokin' BBQ

Joey's Smokin' BBQ
3564 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

I have never been a fan of Luke Walton. I'm talking about Luke Walton the basketball player, of course, not Luke Walton the man. Personally, Luke could be a great guy. I have never met him and I imagine I never will.

But Luke the basketball player has always been a frustrating act to follow. I watched him for years when he played college ball for the University of Arizona. With the possible exception of Adam Morrison, I have never seen a player who was allowed to commit offensive fouls with as much frequency as Luke. His entire offensive game was basically catching the ball, extending his left arm out in front of him and driving to the basket, pushing off against whatever player was guarding him.

I was relatively sure that would not translate to the pros, and it has not. My friend Troy refers to Luke as "1 and 2," because for every one good thing Luke does, he makes two equally boneheaded plays immediately after. Watch him some time, you will be amazed; it's like clockwork. This short clip explains my frustration with Walton's apathetic, weak play - it would have taken only a minimal amount of effort to dunk the ball and avoid it being blocked, but that was asking too much:

Consequently, when I heard years ago that Luke Walton was part owner of a barbecue restaurant in Manhattan Beach called Joey's Smokin' BBQ, I did not think I would ever make it there. That's not a part of town I venture to with much frequency, but more importantly, I read several reviews of the place on the web, and pretty much every blog whose opinions I respect absolutely trashed Joey's.

But recently I was called upon at the last minute to pick someone up from LAX. I had some free time, so I decided to head down to Joey's - it's just a couple miles south of the airport - and have lunch. It was packed when I walked in.

I decided to order the "Southern Sliders": three mini sandwiches, one each of pulled pork, brisket, and hot links. My first indication that things were not going to be great was the menu description that each of the sliders is served with "sweet barbecue sauce." If you have ever read this blog before you can probably guess what I'm going to say: any barbecue chef who serves you barbecue with the sauce already on it - and especially a sweet sauce - does not want you to pay much attention to the 'cue. (And why someone would think the same sauce will be equally good on three different kinds of meat is beyond me.) I opted to get some cole slaw and fries along with the sliders.

It only took about ten minutes to get the food. While I was waiting I poured myself two small containers of barbecue sauce - their sweet sauce, the kind of sugary junk you would find at Tony Roma's (back when there were actually Tony Roma's in the San Gabriel Valley), and their spicier sauce, which was actually quite good. It was peppery and reminded me of Rudy's, probably my favorite tomato-based sauce in the country.

Let's start with the best part: the brisket was slightly smoky, with a deep beef flavor. The sweet sauce added nothing to it, and all I could think was how much better it would have been if they had used the spicier sauce. But I liked the beef.

The "Memphis pulled pork" was horrible. I could not see smoke ring anywhere in the sandwich and the meat was a damp mess, full of fat and no flavor. I scooped some slaw onto it and added mustard, hoping it would make it a little bit better. It did not. I'm not a lawyer but I don't see how Joey's can co-opt the word "Memphis" without suffering some kind of retribution. In five trips to that city I have never seen a sandwich resembling this.

The hot link was the worst of the bunch. There was no flavor to it and the casing on the link tasted like a rubber band. I eventually had to peel off what I could and try to eat the remaining link. Unfortunately, pretty much all that was left was fat.

The cole slaw was acceptable, the same sweet stuff you get at KFC. Not terrible but nothing you hope you will ever eat again. The fries were terrible. They were limp and room temperature. Obviously they had been sitting out for a while.

I want to say Joey's was disappointing, but that would imply I had some kind of high expectations for it. I did not. It was exactly the kind of place I thought it would be: food drenched in a sweet sauce and called barbecue, served by people who don't really care about what they're doing.

1 comment:

Mikey said...

I ate at Joeys once and was not impressed at all. It was beyond terrible.