Thursday, November 17, 2011

King's Barbecue

2910 South Crater Road      
Petersburg, VA 23805
Sun, Wed-Sat 11am–8:30pm; Mon-Tue Closed

                      I knew that if I reviewed K&L and did not review King’s right after all of my loyal readers in Petersburg would get upset. This is why last Sunday after a morning full of shopping I took Amanda to tryout King’s “famous” Barbecue.
                      From the start King’s is almost indistinguishable from K&L except that it is open on weekends and accepts credit cards. Inside it looks more like a typical country style restraint than a BBQ restaurant; there just weren’t enough pig decorations to give off a BBQ vibe.  The menu was barebones and kept it simple. It had pork and beef BBQ minced or sliced, barbecued and fried chicken, burgers, and a variety of country style side items. Amanda and I both went for their “world famous” pork BBQ dinner minced with two sides and biscuit for $6.95. It was not too expensive but it did cost more than K&L and it did not come with a sweet tea.  On recommendation from my boss, I ordered onion rings for an appetizer.
                      Our waitress was very good and kept our cups filled with sweet tea. It only took a few minutes for our onion rings to be served. These were obviously freshly prepared with just the bare minimum of batter necessary to cover the thick cut slices of onion. A $2.95 order did not come with very many onion rings but the ones we did get were delicious although a few at the bottom of the bowl were extremely greasy.  Amanda and I knocked out the rings in a few minutes and not long after our BBQ arrived. We both ordered cole slaw as one of our sides because everyone knows you cannot have BBQ without cole slaw. This was the very finely chopped almost soupy king with a lot of mayo. While it’s not my favorite kind, it served its purpose and tasted good. I decided to try out their potato cake as my other side and Amanda ordered the sweet potato sticks even though I warned they were the kind she did not like.
                      My barbecue was minced to oblivion and had practically no flavor so I had to cover it with cole slaw and slather BBQ sauce all over it for it to have some sibilance of flavor. Their BBQ sauce is the exact same as K&L, Virginia version of the NC vinegar based sauce but with more body.  The potato cake had a nice crunchy outside but its inside was extremely dry and unappealing to my taste buds.  After the onion rings, Amanda’s sweet potato sticks were best part of the meal. Amanda did not like them but I loved them. They were the type that are fried on the outside but have creamy mashed sweet potatoes on the inside and are covered in cinnamon sugar. They were delicious and one thing that K&L does not have.
                I love Virginia traditions and I know people will find this blasphemous but I did not love or even really like King’s BBQ. It had a few delicious offerings but overall it was bland and lack luster. I recommend that if you are in Petersburg drive a few minutes in either direction and go somewhere better for BBQ. It might have been the best around 45 years ago but there are other BBQ restaurants in the Tri-Cities that reign supreme nowadays.

K&L Barbecue

5 Cavalier Sq                                       
Hopewell, VA 23860                         
Mon-Fri 11am-9pm                           

Last week I was really feeling some BBQ so I decided to tryout this Hopewell favorite. As you all know I was recently blown away by Saucy’s walkup BBQ in downtown Petersburg and  I wanted to see how this historic landmark fared against the relative new comer.

I started with K & L first and let me begin by warning you, it is NOT open on the weekends and does Not take any form of credit or debit cards so make sure you have cash. Unlike Saucy’s K&L is a typical sit down restaurant and is exactly what comes to mind when you think about a BBQ restaurant. It is decked out with pigs, NASCAR, goofy signs (like “Pigs is Beautiful”) and old license plates all over the wall, kind of like a down home TGI Friday’s. Also unlike Saucy’s they serve a lot more than just BBQ. They serve all sorts of country cookin’ from chicken and dumplins to blackberry cobbler.  I have heard that the chick and dumplins are out of this world but I was there for the BBQ.

I ordered their special, which included a BBQ sandwich (pork or beef and minced or sliced) with or without cold slaw, a side and sweet tea or unsweet tea for diabetics and northerners for $4.95. BBQ is usually quite expensive and I thought that this is a pretty great deal. I of course chose minced pork topped with slaw and a potato cake as my side item. When they say potato cake they are not talking about the think pan fried German type. Their potato cake is pretty much a patty of deep fried mashed potatoes. I know it might not sound delicious but it is.  They also have other standard sides such as green beans, french fries, collard greens and baked beans but the potato cake is by far and away the best.

I was served my meal in a matter of minutes by a very nice waitress who kept my glass perpetually full of sweet tea.  The sandwich was on the small side but had a nice toasted bun and a decent amount of BBQ on it with the perfect amount of cole slaw. The BBQ itself was very finely minced, did not have that much flavor and was not at all smoky. I topped it with K&L’s famous BBQ sauce, a Virginia variation of North Carolina’s vinegar based sauce. I was not in love with the sauce because I prefer a tomato based BBQ sauce but this one was better than a typical NC style sauce. It added a nice flavor and some moister to the dry sandwich which ended up tasted quite good. The potato cake was cooked to perfection with a nice moist inside and a crunchy outershell that held in all of the goodness. To make it just that better, I used it to mop up the cole slaw and BBQ mixture that dripped off my sandwich.

While not as good as Saucy’s,  K&L is a nice standard BBQ restaurant with a down home feel which I will gladly go back to anytime someone suggests it or when I get the hankering for BBQ while in downtown Hopewell.  It was a good meal for a great price; just don’t forget your cash!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Saucy’s Walkup BBQ

Bollingbrook St & 5th St
Petersburg, VA 23803

About a month ago Groupon offered 2 deals for Saucy’s, one was 2 sandwiches, 2 drinks and 2 sides for $8 and the other was $10 for $20 worth of food. I bought one of each because I knew that I could never go wrong with a BBQ Groupon. I was right! There are numerous good BBQ restaurants in the area but Saucy’s has hands down the best BBQ in the Tri-Cities; the only other place close is Alamo BBQ on Church Hill in Richmond.  Saucy’s is not really a restaurant; it is a converted storage container painted yellow with two large smokers behind it and two picnic tables in front and a large circular order window. What it lacks in ambiance it more than makes up for in character, service and flavor.
This last Tuesday, I met Amanda, her sister Andrea, her Grandmother and our 3 dogs to pick up Saucy’s and then go for a walk down by the river in Petersburg. I decided to use my $20 Groupon. Unlike the last time I used one, there were no gimmick this time. I could use it for anything that I wished and if it happened to go over $20.00 all I had to do was pay the difference. I decided to go for the “Container” $18.95, which came with a BBQ chicken quarter, 1/3 rack of ribs, ½ lb of pulled BBQ (I chose pork), 2 buns, 2 sides (I chose potatoes salad and baked beans) and 2 drinks. I added a side of cole slaw. With taxes and an extra side I paid $2.60 on top of my Groupon. For all of the food I received this was a really great deal.
After a rather adventurous trip by the river we headed back to Amanda’s Grandma’s house to dig into our great smelling BBQ. The first thing I dug into was the ribs. The ribs were slathered in their rib BBQ sauce which started out sweet but finished with a little bit of a kick. While the ribs were perfectly cooked with a nice smoky flavor and a great crust they were a little on the skimpy side. There was not a whole lotta meat on the bones but the meat that was there was delicious and full of flavor. I moved onto the BBQ chicken. Although, I’m not the biggest fan of BBQ chicken it was extremely moist and fell off the bone.  While it did not have the same smoky flavor as the ribs the sauce provided the perfect flavor and was some of the best BBQ chicken I’ve ever had.   I then moved onto the pulled pork BBQ. There is nothing else in the world like pulled pork, most places in the tri-cities cheat and only offer minced or sliced very few go the extra mile and take the time to hand pull the BBQ. The pulled pork was fleshly smoked and chock full of flavor. It came coated in a sweet BBQ sauce that went well with its smoky flavor.  I topped the pulled pork with cole slaw and it was amazing. The cole slaw is of the thick cut variety with large crunch piece of cabbage and carrots with the right amount of mayo and seasoning. This was some of the best cole slaw I’ve ever had on top of some of the best pulled pork I’ve ever had. Awesome!
As sides I ordered potato salad and their three bean trio. The potato salad was the low point of the meal, very plain and lack luster. It was the only thing that tasted like it could have been bought at a grocery store.  The three bean trio on the other hand was a definite highlight. I was expecting some sort of baked bean trio but what it was was completely different and better than any baked beans I’ve ever had.  It consisted of cut green beans, pinto beans and navy beans in a scrumptious sauce that blew me away.  Saucy’s serves three different types of BBQ sauces their zesty chicken sauce, their regular tomato bases sauce and a jalapeƱo mustard based sauce.  They used to have an extremely amazing sweet coffee based sauce that was my absolute favorite but have since stopped making it because it took a lot of time and not very many people asked for it. Every time I go I still ask if they have it just to see because I keep hoping they will bring it back.
Saucy’s walkup BBQ container has the best BBQ in the Tri-cities. It is one of the few places around that serves Ribs, brisket, BBQ chicken, pulled pork, chick and beef. Not only does it do it all, it does it all really well. My one complaint about Saucy’s is that it does not have sweet tea only canned sodas because everyone knows that nothing goes better with BBQ than sweet tea. I would recommend that if you like BBQ you need to go and try out Saucy’s I guarantee that you will love it.