Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rock - Paper - Scissors - Grow


Note: If your reading this from outside Michigan, I should point out that “SHAPE” is an acrostic from a series on finding your fit in service/ministry that we've been working through the last couple of months on Sunday mornings. Tonya has posted more on this – so her blog might be a better place to start.

S.H.A.P.E
=========
Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Ability, Personality, Experience
---

Throughout the SHAPE series, I've been struck by how much my I've focused on “Ability” and “Experience” when trying to see where I fit. In fact trying to identify what my “Heart” was turned out to be easier said than done. As I've gotten older and had opportunities to see myself and others in ministry, “Personality” gaps were already on my radar … but I've nearly always clung to maxims like: [I do ‘x’ professionally, so my ministry must be ‘y’]. Worse yet – and this is what gets me to the Rock-Paper-Scissors thing – are the sorts of internal billboards that announce: [Chad is … “___”]. More on that shortly.

In my professional life, I've been having a look at ‘Mindset’ by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. It’s the sort of book I’m expected to read now and then to demonstrate continuing development - and I’ll be honest, is hitting the reading list in November (just before Annual Review time) for all sorts of the wrong reasons. I’m much more likely to read about Throne Wardens and secret organizations like N.I.C.E., but from a whole-life perspective this is coming along at just the right time. Dweck’s assertion is that we all interpret our own intelligence/abilities – and therefore our potential actions, success, shame, and relationships from either a FIXED mindset or a GROWTH mindset.

The differences between these two Mindsets has been summarized (much better) here; but the following is my attempt to bring it back to the SHAPE discussion:

A Fixed Mindset is one that, like those billboards I mentioned, sees intelligence/abilities as set and immovable. The classic example is the child that is told she has poor math skills and continues in that fixed perspective – never trying new techniques and / or giving up on all but compulsory math for the rest of her life. Once described or labeled, Fixed Mindsets are like Rocks … forever confident in their ability to beat Scissors but always vulnerable to the dreaded Paper.

But it’s not just the negative Fixed Mindset that leads to problems. Dweck points to several studies that show if a child is labeled “Smart”, she is less likely to take on tasks and challenges that might be risky or unsuccessful … and therefore cause her to lose her positive label. In the end, the ‘Smart’ child learns less and simply remains proficient at the basic concepts. This is exactly the sort of “Hideous Strength” that N.I.C.E. had over its victims in Lewis’ story. It’s also the sort of mindset that limits potential ministry. Objective measures of quality are a means for personal development – not its replacement.

A Growth Mindset then, sees intelligence and ability as the progress so far against experience. The same studies that caution against labeling a child as ‘Smart’, show praising kids for the work they've done towards an answer or task seems to drive accelerated success overall; even when the initial work is flawed.  Peterson’s concept of Throne Warden – a model of servant leadership that drives his “Wingfeather Saga” to a heroic ending – is the sort of mindset shift needed to reject the sometimes accurate limitations we have that hold us back from becoming. It is – after all not enough to see paper, or rocks, or even scissors as simply expressions of their abilities in a children’s game. They are so much more … the tools, and raw materials that build nations and touched other worlds through the continuing creative power of His Masterful work.

That tells me that I’m more than just one dimension of ability – or what I've been ‘good enough’ to do in the past. I’m not tied to certain destinations of ministry but free to journey – to grow, to make mistakes and become more than I can see from here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Not Quite National BBQ Tour - Part 9: Tom Jenkin's Bar-B-Q



Sunday night, as the plane was landing in Fort Lauderdale, my seatmate asked me if I was in town for business or fun.  We had a brief conversation about the area and the joys of business travel (he was flying home).  When he suggested that I try to have some fun, I decided to ask about BBQ … and after a few moments of reflection he told me about ‘Tom Jenkins BBQ’.   It would mean a driving back to Ft Lauderdale from Miramar, but definitely worth the trip.  As we de-planed, he turned around to tell me not to try them on until Tuesday since they aren't open on Mondays.

Heads Up!  The Rating Scale Has been Revised – Again!

RATING DEFINITIONS # STAR / 10

0-1  =   Its BBQ … I’ll try just about any place once
2-3  =   HONORABLE MENTION … well executed even if not to my liking
4-7  =   GOOD BBQ … flavorful, distinct, and presented well with good sides
8-9  =   REALLY GOOD BBQ … The Whole Package + That Something Special
10   =    The Undiscovered Country … If I ever really find the best, I’d have to stop looking

Tom Jenkins Bar-B-Q

Despite the name, the restaurant was in fact founded by 2 guys (neither are named Tom) named Harry and Gary.  At first it was just a sauce, then a food trailer, and since 1996 one of the great Mom N Pop BBQ shops in the world -  just north of the Ft. Lauderdale Airport on Highway 1.  I parked next to a huge smoker and right under a sign displaying the hours of operation:  Tuesday – Saturday 11am-8pm, Closed Sunday (For Church), Closed Monday (For Fishin’)

THE PLACE

This is right in Ft. Lauderdale, so retail space is at a premium, and the whole joint parking lot included would have fit inside the Scrubbys I visited last night.  Everything is old dark wood with a big counter and 4 picnic tables crammed inside (along with some benches along the wall).  Its dark, it’s full of wood smoke … it’s wonderful.  By the way if it’s your first visit don’t just walk up to the counter thinking you can order.  That’s for picking up carry-out orders.  The dine-in  line starts to the right of the door and snakes through the tables up to the side of the counter.  One at a time please – and no pushing.


THE FOOD

2 Meat combo with 2 sides and corn bread + a drink and a dessert = under $20

* Brisket (chopped):  When I was ordering, I asked if the brisket was sliced or chopped.  Right about then …. Gary pulled out a hunk of brisket and chopped it with a huge knife.  “You want it chopped”, he said; and he was right.  So good that  I (almost) forgot to put sauce on it.  Think about everything good about brisket (color, texture, flavor, fat content etc. etc.) it was that good.

* Spare Ribs:  Literally the best ribs I've ever had … and yes, that includes Kansas City.  It took just enough effort to pull the meat off the bones and the flavor was amazing.  I was sad to only get 3 huge meaty ribs in my order.

* Baked Beans: Yummy, with brisket cooked in (excellent with a bit of cornbread added).

* Mac N Cheese:  One of the agents in my class this week suggested the mac (and the collard greens).  I wasn't brave enough for the greens, but the mac was fantastic

* Bonus Side Corn Bread:  Thick enough that I wanted some butter – but it worked great with some of the sauce (and the baked beans).

* The Sauce:  They only have one sauce at Tom Jenkins.  It’s a good right-down-the-middle sauce not necessary for the food, but a great add.

*  Sweet Potato Pie:  A few of the folks in line were ordering whole pies to take home and convinced me to try a slice (ok I wasn't that difficult to convince).  Not being very familiar with this sort of pie, I was happily surprised and even more thrilled when I got to the fabulous crust.  It was a great way to put out the gentle fire from the sauce.

THE WRAP-UP

Based on my change to the rating scales above, you've probably already guessed that this visit made me rethink my Kansas City BBQ snobbery.  I have too much love for My KC Favorites (Oklahoma Joes and Jack’s Stack) to rate them lower that what I ate here (in South Florida of all places), but Tom Jenkins is right up there.  I’m happy to award a well-deserved 8.5 Stars and will be stopping back by Friday afternoon on my way to the airport for a second go at this unexpected treasure.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Not Quite National BBQ Tour - Part 8: The Original Scruby's BBQ



Since I have to ‘suffer’ through a week in south central FL, I thought I might try a few of the local BBQ places.  The NQNBT was started on a business trip to Birmingham, so I take it as a sacred responsibility to immerse myself in local Q culture.  If you've read any of the other posts, you know I’m not an expert – but it’s fun learning.  Not sure that I can manage 4 BBQ dinners in a row, but I had to make the first night count with a visit to Scrubys.


RATING DEFINITIONS # STAR / 10

0-1  =   Its BBQ … I’ll try just about any place once
2-3  =   Honorable Mention … well executed even if not to my liking
4-7  =   Good BBQ … flavorful, distinct, and presented well with good sides
8-9  =   Good Kansas City BBQ … see above + KC Magic
10   =    The Undiscovered Country

Scrubys, Pembroke Pines FL

Scruby’s [Skrew’bees] is the 2012 winner for best Ribs in Broward county and are in their 20th year of bringing the Q to south FL.  Apart from “Tom Jenkins BBQ”, this was the most recommended place for me to try.  And since it was just short drive down a palm tree lined boulevard from the hotel I headed out right after work – windows down, a long song block of Tom Petty tunes on the Radio, dashboard drumming all the way there.

THE PLACE

The joint features an open pit smoking process in a gigantic brick oven that is visible from the dining room.  Other than the prominent oven and some rustic benches, it is pretty unremarkable – strip mall sort of family dining setup crammed between a bunch of unfortunate neighbors with signs advertising various medical procedures [ - 2 points for location/character]


THE FOOD

I will say this for Scrubys, the prices are very reasonable.  I got a Beef Ribs and Brisket Combo with 3 sides and bread + a can of diet coke for under $15

* Brisket (sliced):  Right texture, right look, …. Lacking in flavor.  Without the sauces, all would have been lost.

* Beef Ribs:  The menu said that if I liked Prime Rib, these were the ribs I should order … and that would be true if my taste in Prime Rib had been developed over years at Golden Corral.  Again, pretty dull but satisfying with the sauce (see below).

* Baked Beans: Served with all meals … and surprisingly made of Pinto beans.  I expected some chili flavor, but just got beans and a little pork.

* Cole Slaw:  Also standard and very … Long John Silver-ish.  The cabbage was very finely chopped, so it was more a pile of white mush than anything else.

* French Fries:  Ore-Ida is Alright-a.  This was my only  self-selected side (the other options being baked potato and broccoli).  As usual, I used the fries to sample all the available sauces … which leads me to the good part of the review.

* Sauces:  Scrub’s  has 4 sauces at the table and all are available at the counter to take home.  The ‘Sweet’ and ‘Original’ were good but nearly indistinguishable; the ‘Hot’ wasn't …. but the Pepper-Vinegar was fun.  Now usually, any sauce that plays up its vinegar content makes me think of the thin un-sauces of places like Birmingham.  This was different.  It was thick like a Texas sauce but  nearly clear and gave a great flavor to all the low-taste food.  If the Open Pit was the downside, this was the upside.  Even the toddler-fodder fries were fun with this stuff.

THE WRAP-UP

After doing a bit more reading up on Scrubys, I found that a big part of their famous ribs is a secret rub that is inexplicably only used on Wednesdays.  This is making me rethink my nearly wholesale “meh” opinion of the food and might be enough to try them again.  There also seems to be a lot of attention given to the pork side of the menu, so maybe there is a whole world of flavors put there and I just ordered the wrong stuff.  Taking into account the lousy location and unexpected sauce … overall, Scruby-Do gets 4 Scruby-Snacks and a possible rematch on this or another of my trips to Florida.  If I wasn't flying, I think I’d try to get some of that Pepper Sauce to take home.




Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Cave, Remember Your Failure At The Cave ....



The other night, Chan and I watched The Empire Strikes back on Blue Ray.  It was fun to see a movie that I can quote nearly word for word "differently" - specifically, this was the first time I got to see it in 1080p.  If you are not familiar, that's the magic number that translates into a picture so defined, you can see all the actor's blemishes rather than looking like animated action figures and the cardboard looking props for what they are ... not actual space metal.  I was noticing parts of Boba Fet's costume that I never saw before and sat in awe of how many actual stars were on screen at the end of the title crawl ... but it was The Cave on Dagobah that struck me the most.

This wasn't a special effects thing - I actually always thought the way Vader's mask "exploded" was cheesy.  What the Cave vision meant, and how I perceived it all those years ago is what got me thinking ... and blogging.

Conventional wisdom among Star Wars fans is that Luke's failure was that he chose to take his weapons into the cave after Yoda told him that he would not need them.  Essentially, that you are unable to fight fear - but must simply face it.  Since fear leads to the "Dark Side", a Jedi should avoid letting it lead him to Anger .. Hate ... Suffering etc.

When I saw 'Empire' at the Bowman Twin theater in Tulsa Oklahoma in 1980 I had a completely different understanding of the scene..  To me, it was the lesson that Luke was essentially fighting himself.  As a kid trying to grow up (and maybe fly a space ship with a light-saber hanging from my belt), this was my fight - a fight to be more than I was.[note:  I was later convinced that Luke was somehow his own father .. or his father's twin .. but hey, I was 7].

The other night though, in full 1080p, I remembered the old me - the one fighting myself to grow up. For the most part I've been successful; I'm relatively mature when it comes to most things in life ... and I have a much more thoughtful approach to fan theories about movie plot twists.  Still, I often find myself facing off against the dark me in the cave.  "This becoming is harder than it seems."

Back in May (on Star Wars Day) I wrote a FB post that referenced 1 John 4 as what should be the rest of Yoda's teaching on Fear (the enemy that is cast out by Love).  When I've missed the mark in life it's nearly always been because of Fear - or the sort of backwards self-love (selfishness) that I should have outgrown years ago.  I'm finding it takes the sort of trust necessary to leave your light-saber and blaster outside when heading into a scary place.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Not Quite National BBQ Tour - Part 7: Union Woodshop




So the guys of the Bema Seat BBQ Association were off (in style) on another adventure this weekend. After lots of word-of-mouth advertising and TV features galore, we decided it was time to make the trek out to Clarkston to try out the Union Woodshop.  We purposefully moved the meal to Saturday and planned for an obscure 2:30pm "L-INNER" meal to avoid all the crowds we were warned about.  We got right in and had a good time talking BBQ and all things manly .... but you're here to read about the Meat! - so let's get to it.


RATING DEFINITIONS # STAR / 10

0-1  =   Its BBQ … I’ll try just about any place once,  even Dickey’s
2-3  =   Honorable Mention … well executed even if not to my liking
4-7  =   Good BBQ … flavorful, distinct, and presented well with good sides
8-9  =   Good Kansas City BBQ … see above + KC Magic
10   =    The Undiscovered Country 

... please note that the ratings have been revised to acknowledge the possibility of good BBQ outside Kansas City.

Union Woodshop, ClarkstonMI

The Woodshop is famously one of the 2 "Unions" in Clarkston MI.  The Mac & Cheese that made the Clarkston Union famous has made its way here along with some of the trappings of a failed fancy restaurant that got a bit too big for its britches. According to the menu, the website - and many of the folks that recommend it - the Woodshop also features the best Pulled Pork in SE Michigan.


THE PLACE

Grown-ups eat here ... and ... and ladies with fancy hairdos.  No seriously, the atmosphere is designer-rustic with beautiful carved wood and chandeliers competing for your attention with metal trays and plywood floors.  No gift shop in sight - but this is destination BBQ, and the surroundings are a big part of why you'd journey out this way.

THE FOOD

More than one of the Bema Seat Gang was surprised at how relatively few options there were for ordering BBQ.  Basically you got a sliced meat or ribs, and then added any other meat as a sidecar.  This made it a bit pricey to try very many of the selections, so there was a bit of sharing at the table ... but as always, I'll limit my comments to what I actually tried.

* Brisket (sliced) - Nice and thick. Good flavor, though not very much of it.  To me the brisket is the single greatest measure of the BBQ joint.  I was sad to see it go - more so because I spent so little time with it.

* Pulled Pork - heavy on the smoke flavor - so much that it was almost all you tasted.  With this being a headline item, I expected more fireworks ... but maybe that has more to do with the sauces (see my note below).

* Spare Ribs - Mr Day was kind enough to literally 'throw me a bone' in exchange for some of the highly anticipate pork.  This was by far the best meat of the meal and may just be reason enough for me to start leaning away from brisket as the go-to order in future excursions.

* Baked Beans: Tried a sample before ordering (good call Bema Seat brothers) and glad we did ... no love here, nothing to see - move a long.

* Sweet Potato Mash:  Wow this was good ... Charred Jalapenos and Michigan Maple Syrup.  Again, only a tiny portion but for my money, this was the most exciting flavor of the day.

* Union Mac & Cheese:  Tasty, stringy, and appropriately cheesy (I tasted at least 4 cheeses).  Other than the onion rings I saw around the table, this was by far the most generous serving on the table.

* Sauces:  The Woodshop features 5 sauces at the table and 2 that are available on request.  Best of the bunch was a South Carolina Mustard - worst was an incomprehensible mayo-based sauce attributed to Alabama - and honorable mention to the "Hell Michigan" request only sauce.  Hell - it turned out - wasn't all that hot after all (even with ghost chilies and capsaicin extract) - but was the best of the tomato based sauces.

THE WRAP-UP

So, the Woodshop was a fun experience with really great sides but small portions and weird sauces.  That's quite a few pluses and minuses to take into account, but if I get my slide-rule out and include the untested variables (chicken / sausage etc) it rates a respectable 5 ... a solid non-Kansas City score that's only been topped locally by Billy Sims and Bad Brads.  Wish Brad's could get the Sweet Potato mash together  .... *sigh*


Note:  I did manage to bring home 1 small piece of brisket and a bit of pulled pork to try with the KC Masterpiece sauce I had in the fridge.  It was excellent and made the pork truly wonderful.  Maybe we should really start smuggling in our own sauce.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Not Quite National BBQ Tour - Part 4: Billy Sims BBQ











Having lived in Indiana for several years, I was beginning to think that Kansas City was the furthest north a Brisket-Head like me could find decent BBQ.  That has happily been proven false ... and so I've resurrected the N.Q.N.B. Tour.  If you are date checking, you'll notice that the Michigan posts are a bit out of order since I decided to number them in order of my first visit - rather than when I got around to posting about them.


RATING DEFINITIONS # STAR / 10

0-1  =   Its BBQ … I’ll try just about any place once,  even Dickey’s
2-3  =   Honorable Mention … well executed even if not to my liking
4-5  =   Good BBQ … flavorful, distinct, and presented well with good sides
6-7  =   Good Kansas City BBQ … see above + KC Magic
8-10  = The Undiscovered Country  

Billy Sims Barbecue, Southfield MI

While working in Southfield as a consultant early last year, several of the participants in my training class recommended Billy Sims as the place to go for BBQ.  Having been sorely disappointed by my search of Indiana (hereafter to be referred to as BBQ-Mordor), I was skeptical but willing to try it.  Not being a Lion's fan .. or admittedly that much of a football history buff, the name didn't mean anything to me  - but the fact that  he was a "Sooner" meant Oklahoma ... and that meant there was hope.  Now that I've researched a bit, I know that there are Billy Sims all over, even one in my home town of Springfield MO.  My first visit however was free of the dreaded franchise label and I'll only be commenting on this specific location.


THE PLACE

Not your linen napkin BBQ, in fact I was disappointed at first with what seemed to be a converted generic fast food building (I'm betting it was a captain D's).  They have tables and booths, TV overhead, a clean bathroom and a small area of Billy Sims shirts / merchandise.

... But you don't pick a good BBQ place because they sell T-shirts or have fancy fireplaces to sit next to, it's all about ...

THE FOOD

It had been so long since my first visit that Tonya, Chandler and I stopped on Sunday on our way back from Jackson.  We shared a 4-Meat (Double serving of brisket, Polish Sausage, and Pulled Pork) with a couple extras and spent a little over $25.  Sauces were simple but good (1 hot, 1 sweet) and great mixed together.

* Brisket - very good.  Just fatty enough to be flavorful and much to my amazement, T (normally a pulled-pork-only gal) said that it was good enough that she'd order it in the future.

* Pulled Pork - again very good.  Not quite shredded.  Truly worthy of a sandwich only visit.  As mentioned above, this is what Tonya considers BBQ and she was happy.

* Polish Sausage - nothing fancy but smoked incredibly well, dare I say perfect.  Chan and I ate most of it to begin with, but nobody seemed to have enough, so we ordered a bit more by weight (see my note below on the carry out options) and everybody had a few additional smiles.

* Baked Beans: good.  I definitely noticed some of the Brisket in there and by far the best side I've tried on any of my visits to Billy Sims.

* Potato Salad:  ennnhh.  I didn't ask if it was their own - but I would not be surprised if it came in a big tub.

* (BONUS SIDE) Texas Toast:  yummy.  You can add a piece for about 50 cents and make your own sandwich from the meat on your dinner plate.


THE WRAP-UP

The big win for me was the carryout portion of the menu.  All the meats and sides are available to order by weight and reasonably priced.  All the business we saw on Sunday was carry out and it seems to be what they expect when a customer walks up.  Bad Brad's is still the family go-to for a total BBQ experience near the house, but if I'm in Southfield for work (or near the 3 other locations in the area) I'll be bringing it home.

Billy Sims gets a 5 Star rating.  Not bad for Michigan.  T and Chan said that it was still worthy of introducing other folks to ... and I have to admit that had I tried it first in one of the many Oklahoma locations, it might have even earned a Kansas City Level 6.

Speaking of Kansas City ... I've not written reviews for any of my personal favorites (or un-favs) since most of my original readers are from there.  Still, I may have to go for a visit to make sure I'm remembering correctly.  It's about time to see our Overland Park peeps right T?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Not Quite National BBQ Tour - Part 3: Ted's Montana Grill ?



















**Re-Posted from 2009**

Tonight I did a few laps around the Galleria Mall here in Hoover (Birmingham) while looking for a new place to review. There are still a couple more BBQ joints on my list – but diversity is a good thing. I was about to settle for a Barbacoa Burrito from Chipotle Grill, when I saw a Buffalo.

... Ted’s Montana Grill.....


THE PLACE

Thanks to the corporate website, I’ve learned that the aforementioned ‘Ted’ is the Ted Turner of CNN, TNT, and so many badly colorized versions of classic movies that they needed another cable channel for them. Based on the pervasive branding in the restaurant (and it’s proximity to an Olive Garden and a Ruby Tuesdays), I knew this was a chain – but it was new to me …. And did I mention they serve buffalo?

On the menu, they call it Bison … and after more research (thanks wikipedia) I’ve learned that the American Buffalo was, like the American Indian, badly named. The Bison is only marginally related to the actual buffalo in Asia and Africa … so when Mr. Environmentally Sensitive Turner was getting a chain of eateries, they made sure to get the name right.



THE FOOD

* Bison Meatloaf: I didn’t think I’d be showing the majestic Bison his due respect by eating a bison-burger, so I got the meatloaf. Very tasty and (as the menu points out) “always served with a side of good conscience and two vegetables”.

* Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Like everything else on the plate, the serving of potatoes was portioned to be enough but not too much. They were just lumpy enough to have good texture and yummy with the Bison gravy.

* Aunt Fannie’ Squash Casserole: Somewhere between baked squash and stuffing, this was a neat change and proved once again that the best vegetables are rarely green.

* Big Chunk Chocolate Chip Cookie: This came with my meal – so I didn’t have to agonize over the key-lime pie. What does key-lime have to do with Montana? Oh, that’s right; Mr. Good Conscience is from Atlanta.


THE WRAP-UP

Ted’s was a nice diversion and gave a good enough showing that I might stop at one of the two Indianapolis locations (or 49 others elsewhere). The menu is diverse enough that I feel comfortable giving it 2/10 Expense Reports as long as I can still fill them out in black and white and not have to worry about someone redoing them for a new generation.

Not Quite National BBQ Tour - Part 1: Jim 'N Nick's



** Re-Posted From June 2009 **

With nearly 2 months of corporate allowance to spend while I'm down south, I thought this might be a good opportunity to share some insights into the Birmingham dining scene and prove once and for all ... that I should never be allowed to write anything even resembling a serious restaurant review.

I have had a few food recommendations already (along with a few bits of culture/history to see); so I can't promise daily updates, but who knows you might just find my misadventures educational - if not a chance to laugh at how lost you can get in a strange city using only a bad map from the car rental agency and directions that include phrases like "down by the river".

... Jim 'N Nick's.....

Well, this one had potential: big stacks of firewood out back, a flying pig on the sign, and a drive-by smell so good that I made tonight's dinner plans yesterday before I even made it into the hotel parking lot (Jim 'N Nick's is right next door).

I'll save you the suspense, and just go ahead and give this one 1/10 "Expense Reports". For those of you that aren't familiar with this rating system, I'll clarify. When on a 2 week (10 day) business trip to the Birmingham area, I'd plan on at least 1 trip to Jim N' Nick's. With that in mind, 1/10 isn't all that bad ... just nothing so spectacular that I'd want to go back within 2 weeks.

- THE PLACE -
This is a pretty relaxed casual dining place for the fam' ... staff was very attentive and friendly. If weather permits, sit outside on the patio. From listening to the tables around me (and reading the menu), I learned that they do a lot of drive through and walk-up carry-out business ... always a good sign. Most of the meats take 14 hours to prepare - so if you go late, they might be out of your favorites.


- THE FOOD -
I had the 2 sliced meats platter with sides and dessert.
* BBQ Sausage: Tasty, yet a little too spicy to get excited about
* Beef Brisket: Very Good (without the sauce)
* Slaw: Better than the tub-o-slaw you get at most grocery stores
* Onion Rings: Very Good ... but could have been great with better BBQ sauce
* Coconut Cream Pie: Awesome - worth walking across the parking lot for all by itself (hey, that's a good idea).


- THE WRAP -
Overall, it was that sauce that kept Jim N' Nick's from being amazing. I actually asked if there was anything sweeter to go with my onion rings, and was offered ketchup. With that in mind, I'm glad that I passed on the Habanaro sauce. I don't mind spicy food - but BBQ should have molasses as a main ingredient. With the pie being so good, I may have to pick up some "Sweet Baby Rays" or "KC Masterpiece" at the store and order some carry out.

Not Quite National BBQ Tour - Part 2: Full Moon BBQ



** Re-Posted From June 2009 **

Well … here it is: the second of the likely-to-be-short-lived note-blog series on my sight-seeing and dining in Birmingham Alabama. The 3 brave friends that commented to yesterday’s post have been thank-you-tagged. Whether that makes you more or less inclined to comment is up to you; but hopefully the note-blog will be a bit more interactive that way and give you a chance to meet other people that actually care about what I had for dinner.

... Full Moon Bar-B-Que.....

I’m a sucker for marketing – especially marketing that sounds more like interesting semi-useful facts than TV-jingles. With that in mind, I have to confess that I may have been mentally dishing out the Expense Reports* even before I got up to the counter to order. For starters, the menu has the History of the restaurant right on the cover (in quasi-readable 10-point font) and gives all kinds of good-to-know stuff. For example: “Chow-Chow” is apparently not an annoying dog, but a spicy-southern-sweet-relish. Another good bit of tid-bit marketing … the slaw is listed in “100-Dishes-To-Eat-In-Alabama-Before-You-Die”.

* Expense Reports are my not-so-catchy version of restaurant review points … instead of using Stars, Diamonds, Pepperoni, or Wagon Wheels etc. In this case it refers to the number of company-paid dinners I would eat there on a two-week business trip.


THE PLACE

Two words on the decorations: ‘Au…Burn’. Not being much of a sports fan, much less a life-long-lover of Alabama college ball, I’ll just say that the atmosphere has some “opportunities”. That being said, the tables were made of actual wood and I got to sit in a booth by myself … so I was ok.


THE FOOD

* Black Angus Beef-Brisket: That’s what I’m talkin’-bout-Willis-I-mean-Arnold. The meat was flavorful in itself, and the small amount of sauce it was served with was just right.

* Slaw: Very good: … The fact-based menu describes it as a vinaigrette slaw and it is certainly worthy of the Alabama’s Food-Bucket-List status.

* Baked Beans: Not as good as Fiorella’s Jack’s Stack … but worth ordering.

* Bread, Pickles, and Chow-Chow: I don’t usually care much about these auxiliary side dishes - treating them like parsley. Maybe it was because I didn’t have fist-sized onion-rings to eat around, but they really added to the meal.

* Coconut Cream Pie: Last night, I called it “awesome” and it was again tonight. Either they have the same recipe, the same supplier, or somebody’s got the other restaurant on speed dial. It was exactly the same … and $2.50 cheaper.


THE WRAP

No surprises at the end: Full Moon Bar-B-Que was great. I give it 4/10 Expense Reports and will be going back soon. After all, I still haven’t tried their signature half-moon pecan-chocolate-chip cookies (half-dipped in chocolate sauce). By the way… you can stop counting now Drew. I used the hyphen/dash 55 times in this post. What do you expect from a Bar "-" B "-" Que review?


(oops, make that 58)