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Sunday, January 6, 2013
Red, Hot & Blue (Dallas, TX)
I generally dislike working on Sundays, and today was no exception. I decided to cruise on over to Red, Hot & Blue for a barbecue pick-me-up.
I caught the delicious smell of smoke as soon as I stepped out of my truck, which was a good sign. When I walked in, there was some old school blues pumping through the speakers, and the walls were full of guitars, records, and photographs of all the legendary artists. This looked like just the place for a hip cat like myself.
I was eating alone, so I took a seat at the bar. Service was a little slow, which was surprising because it was 3:30 in the afternoon and they weren't really that busy. I ordered some sweet tea, and it was a giant portion that came in its own miniature pitcher. Then I picked the Five Meat Treat barbecue sampler: Ribs (I picked Memphis-style dry ribs over or the wet or sweet options), pulled pork, pulled chicken, sausage, beef brisket, bbq beans, and hush puppies (instead of the coleslaw).
The hush puppies were really good. They had a nice crisp batter. I was initially worried that they might be dry, but they weren't at all. These pups were slightly sweet and had a nice kick to them too. The bbq beans had pulled pork mixed right in. I'm not sure if the beans themselves were canned or not, but they had good flavor regardless. Maybe a little more pepper and they'd be better.
The sausage was nice and lean and had a good amount of pepper to it. I wish the casings had more snap to them though. I tried the sausage both with and without the sauce that came with my plate. The sauce added some sweetness and some heat, but I actually enjoyed the sausage more by itself. Their brisket on the other hand was pretty dry and way too lean of a cut. The slices were also really thick, which probably added to the dryness of it. I definitely needed the sauce with this one. I got some good edges on my slices, but there was no char at all. This was certainly not Texas-style brisket. "If you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band," and you also gotta cook your brisket properly.
I moved on to the pulled chicken and pulled pork, but I honestly had a hard time figuring out which was which by the look of them on my plate. I dug in and discovered that they both kind of tasted the same too. The chicken was tender and juicy, but the pork was almost as dry as the brisket. The few pieces of chicken skin I got were tasty, but this wasn't enough to save it.
As for the ribs, on second thought maybe I should have picked wet or sweet. The ribs should have been dry rubbed and finished on the grill, but they looked like the dry rub had been added after they put the ribs on my plate. The fact that I could brush the rub right off suggested that I was right. My ribs were really dry too, and I had a pretty difficult time even cutting them apart with a knife. The rub tasted good, but the flavor pretty much ended at the crust.
After my smorgasbord of dry meat I needed something to get that taste out of my mouth, so I ordered a mini banana pudding for dessert. This was a sampler-size portion, which was perfect. There was a big mound of whipped cream on top, as well as a nice combination of both whole and crumbled 'nilla wafers. The pudding tasted good, but it was too runny.
All in all I was pretty disappointed with Red, Hot & Blue. My "five meat treat" was anything but, and the only meat I ended up finishing was the sausage. The hush puppies were my clear favorite, but it's not worth going back just for them. I took my leftovers with me to be polite, and I threw them away as soon as I got home. I thought about taking my in-laws here once before, but I'm glad I didn't.
Red, Hot & Blue is Memphis-style barbecue, founded in Virginia, and located in Texas. I guess this is just too many degrees of separation for it to be any good.
UPDATE (January 19, 2013): After posting a review of my disappointing experience on Yelp.com, I was contacted by Red, Hot & Blue's Director of Operations. He apologized for "missing the mark," and sent me a $30.00 gift certificate. I certainly appreciate a restaurant that takes pride in their food and tries to make things right when it isn't up to par. I'll definitely give Red, Hot & Blue another try, and hopefully my next visit will be better than the last.
Red, Hot & Blue
9810 N. Central Expressway
Dallas, TX 75231