Saturday, July 28, 2018
BobbyD's Merchant St. BBQ (Emporia, KS)
BobbyD's Merchant St. BBQ was a last-minute addition to the itinerary for Day Two of my fabulous barbecue roadtrip. I was already passing through Emporia, Kansas, and my next planned stop was open until 10:00pm, so there really wasn't any harm in it.
Inside, it's a much different feel than the diminutive storefront would let on. I expected a cramped deli-type place. Nope. The main dining room is a decent size, with more of a small town diner feel to it. Most of the decor is centered around the Old West and Barney Fife, while the menu and website feature a hip pig in baggy jeans and sunglasses. I'm not sure why, but it is what it is.
This joint has a "Meat Trio +1" menu item that's described as "a healthy sampling of smoked meats." Perfect, just what I wanted. As its name implies, the combo comes with your choice of three meats plus one rib. I picked brisket, burnt ends, and pulled pork as my three, plus cheesy potatoes as my one side dish. After all, it's apparently their house specialty.
I received a large scoop of shredded potatoes. Truth be told, they don't look like much, but they were definitely cheesy and definitely delicious. House specialty, indeed.
The brisket came sliced razor thin, with only a slight smoke ring and no bark. I tasted a mild smokiness, as well as some surprisingly sweet undertones. What fat there was hadn't really been rendered much at all. Nonetheless, the brisket was tasty in its own right, even if it was better suited for a hoagie sandwich.
Next up was the pulled pork, which was tender but had about as much smoke as the brisket. No bark here either, and it could have used more salt. That being said, the pork was nice and juicy, there just wasn't a lot to it.
The burnt ends weren't so much burnt ends as much as they were shredded hunks of the fatty brisket that my slices should have been. I tasted the same sweet sauce here, too. There was some evidence of a smoke ring, and a moderate smoky flavor. At least their smoke level is consistent across the board, so that's something to be proud of I suppose. The meat was decently tasty, but I wasn't too partial to the sugary glaze.
My one rib turned out to be two, which I was able to completely pull apart by hand. They were tough, sort of dry, and definitely overcooked. Weirdly enough, the charred crust left a burned taste in my mouth, rather than the normal pit flavor that I know and love. I think somebody needs to clean the smoker better.
BobbyD's Merchant St. BBQ was ok, and they certainly do some things well, just not enough of them to be more than average. This place is probably closer to a two and a half, but since I don't do half-star ratings, I'll call it a three and move on. After all, I did show up mid-afternoon, and at its peak freshness the barbecue there might be better anyway.
BobbyD's Merchant St. BBQ
607 Merchant St
Emporia, KS 66801