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Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Round 2: Red, Hot & Blue (Dallas, TX)
After my disappointing experience at Red, Hot & Blue last month, I was a bit hesitant to try it again. Their Director of Operations sent me an apology, as well as a gift certificate to give them another shot. Armed with $30.00 worth of "Baby I Done Ya Wrong" gift certificates, my wife and I decided to head on over for dinner.
When I checked-in to Red, Hot & Blue on Yelp, I was rewarded with a digital coupon for a free Fried Pickle appetizer. The only problem was, this location apparently doesn't have fried pickles on the menu. Total bust.
The hostess sat us at a booth, and we started perusing the menu. The lighting overhead was made from discarded drum sets, which was something I didn't notice last time sitting at the bar. My wife enjoyed the music-themed decor as much as I did.
This time around, I ordered the Eastern Tennessee Triple: Ribs (I got them wet instead of with the dry rub I had before), Smoked Turkey, and Sausage. For my sides, I substituted hush puppies and potato salad for the bbq beans and coleslaw listed on the menu.
The potato salad was confusing, to say the least. It came warm rather than chilled. Initially, I decided that they had brought me mashed potatoes by mistake, based on the temperature, texture, and overall taste of it. I kept digging, and then found pieces of hard boiled egg mixed in. We stopped our waiter and inquired about the mystery potatoes. He assured me that it was potato salad, and that they just make it differently than everyone else, but I had my doubts. The flavor was pretty good, although I was too skeptical to keep eating it.
Much like my first go round with Red, Hot & Blue, the hush puppies were phenomenal. The batter was just as crisp as it was before. I think they might have been a little spicier this time too, so that's certainly a plus.
The smoked turkey looked a little dry sitting on my plate, but it was actually nice and moist despite being all white meat. Tenderness aside, I didn't really taste much smoke. I decided to forgo their barbecue sauce in favor of the cup of spicy mustard that came with my order. The mustard added a nice kick to the turkey. I do wish there had been somewhat of a crust on the edge of my slices though.
As for the sausage, I think it was even better than last time. The casings had more snap than before, and the smokiness was also more pronounced. I tried the sausage with the spicy mustard, and was pleased to find a nice pairing here as well. It's a little odd that mustard goes better with their meat than the barbecue sauce.
I was wearing a white t-shirt, so I decided to leave my ribs for last. Just as I feared, the rib meat was fairly hard to cut off the bone. The "wet" sauce was pretty sweet, so I'm glad I didn't opt for the "sweet" variety. I definitely don't need more cavities. The bites I had with sauce were pretty good, but the rest was rather flavorless (a sentiment shared by my wife). I think the ribs definitely need a heavy slathering of sauce to have any real zest, which is a little sad.
My wife's catfish and french fries were both lukewarm at best. As she put it, "They have a good concept, just not so good food." Once again, the hush puppies were the best thing on my plate. The fact that they have fancy, pre-printed "Sorry We Screwed Up" gift certificates kind of says a lot. I went back because of the free gift certificate, but I won't make that mistake again.
UPDATE (February 11, 2013): After posting another disappointing review of Red, Hot & Blue on Yelp.com, I was again contacted by their Director of Operations. Just like the first time around, he apologized that my expectations of their food had not been met. I still appreciate the concern, but I doubt Red, Hot & Blue will want me to come back a third time.
Red, Hot & Blue
9810 N. Central Expressway
Dallas, TX 75231