Sunday, July 25, 2010

Friday Lunch- 17th st Bar and Grill

Friday morning, we headed southeast out of Saint Louis, destination Memphis. However, since I'm pretty much a geek and have actually read the book "Peace, Love, Barbecue" from cover to cover twice, I knew that we had to hit one of the Midwest meccas of all things pork- 17th St. Bar and Grill in Murphysboro, IL. For those of you not-in-the-know, this restaurant is owned by Mike Mills, a guy who has won the coveted World Championship of BBQ at Memphis in May not only once, but 3 times. Simply put, he knows how to smoke a rib.

The first curveball came when we approached the door, on a side street of a po-dunk town. The dining room of the bar and grill had been moved up the street 1/2 block. When you enter, it's sort of like walking into the banquet hall of a Holiday Inn. Not what you expect for eating great BBQ. Kevin ordered the ribs and chicken, I ordered pulled pork and sausage (anyone sensing a pattern here?). Service was deplorable, but to our server's credit, she did have to deal with a 6 top of blue haired women, and a 5 top of middle aged women, ALL of whom wanted separate checks and to pay with separate credit cards.

Folks, let me rant for a moment here. Dont do this to your server! It takes forever, it's easy to make mistakes, and usually the server gets screwed on tips. You all took math at sometime. Put it on someone's credit card, and pay them back later.

Back to the food. The ribs and pulled pork were good, but that's about it. Just good, not world-champion worthy. I honestly think I could approximate them with a couple hours of hickory and apple wood smoke, and some dry rub. What were outstanding were the sides. The tangy beans were just that- tangy, with a vinegar kick and just a touch of heat. Kevin said that the red beans-n-rice were the best he's ever had. The sausage was cooked through, had a slap of heat on it, and delicious. The sauce was the best we had the entire trip- we each actually bought a bottle.

In retrospect, I would say that the ribs were definitely better than Pork n Pit, but Pappys kicks them in the junk. They were a bit lean on meat, and a touch dry. The same goes with the pulled pork. I just got the feeling that they might be resting on their laurels a little bit, and more concerned with opening restaurants all around the Midwest and Vegas to pay attention to their food quality slipping. If you happen to be in Murphysboro (or even Carbondale- it's worth the drive), check out 17th street bar and grill, but I wouldn't go an hour out of your way off of I-55 to try them.

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