Once more I am back at Robin's, a combination of circumstances both bad (a blown tire on my car that ruined my plans for the day) and good (my mom offering to take me to lunch) and a desire to eat some barbecue. It's been a while since I've been to Robin's; I don't think I've eaten there in almost a year. I have no good reason why. In my most recent post on the place, in August of last year, I wrote that their consistency has improved dramatically in the last few years. I just haven't been in a while.
There is a new (to me) sandwich on the menu: the "Bodacious 'Que' Stacker" - tri tip, pulled pork, a hot link, pepperjack cheese and "hell-fire" pickle chips, all doused with Robin's Mad Dog barbecue sauce.
I immediately sensed several things that could go wrong with this sandwich. Robin's tri tip has always been my least favorite of their meats. I am always suspicious of barbecue sandwiches served with cheese. The Mad Dog sauce is my least favorite of the four sauces that Robin's offers. And, as is always the danger in a sandwich with multiple meats, if one of them isn't good it can ruin the whole thing.
But then I figured: Why not?
It was well after the lunch rush and there were only a couple other tables occupied in the joint, so our food came out remarkably fast. It might have been less than five minutes. My sandwich certainly looked and smelled good when it arrived, a dense tower of barbecue and cheese. I took a bite.
It was really, really good. The tri tip was unquestionably the best I have ever had from Robin's. It was thin and juicy and lined with smoke ring. The pork was very good, as it has been on every occasion in the last couple years. The hot link was dense, smoky and flavorful. These resemble the hot links that the Robin's BBQ stand sells at the South Pasadena farmers market in the same way that this year's Angels team resembles last year's. Not much.
There was no need for cheese on the sandwich; it added nothing and I took some of it off, but it wasn't bad. I had assumed the hell-fire pickles would be spicy but they were not, not even the slightest bit. I was thankful that the sauce had been used sparingly, and I requested a side of their Carolina mustard sauce to eat on some of the more porcine bites of the sandwich.
I ate the whole thing and, although I was full, I would be lying if I said I didn't wish there were a couple more bites.
I will try not to let another year go by before I return to Robin's.
If anyone wants to see something a little healthier, my mom got a tri tip salad with the dressing on the side. She said it was her favorite thing she has ever had from Robin's.