Monday, August 23, 2010

Blue blooded barbecue

Posted By on Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 11:17 AM

LOOKIT THAT SMOKE RING:  Bubbas pork ribs
  • Kat Robinson
  • LOOKIT THAT SMOKE RING: Bubba's pork ribs
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  • Kat Robinson
’ve heard the adage before — you don’t go to a barbecue joint for a burger. Well, I did. And I am glad I did.

See, Bubba’s Southern Pit BBQ isn’t your average barbecue joint. For one, it’s in Eureka Springs, which means it has a lot to compete against on the food front. For two, it’s been around a rather long time. For three…

Well, I can’t actually think of a third thing. I’ll try, but geez, sometimes there’s just two things. And maybe they don’t make that much of a difference. And sometimes I ramble.

The hubster and I dropped through last week on Tuesday night. I already knew I was going for a cheeseburger; I’d been told it was the best cheeseburger in town and I’m always collecting good cheeseburgers for Serious Eats, so there you go. But what was Paul going to have?

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  • Kat Robnson
That’s the thing. Paul will poke at me and tell me I’m just really indecisive… but when I do my research (as in, when I look at the menu before I arrive) I have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to get. Paul, on the other hand, has a propensity to be a little wishy-washy. Which is why when it came time to order, I just poked at him and told him to eat some damn barbecue.

The place has been around for 30 years… more, if you count the year and a half it spent down in the downtown valley before moving up on the hill. The restaurant’s owner is the brother of the owner of Ermilio’s Italian Restaurant, an unforgettably fabulous Italian joint I’ll have to take you to sometimes. Well, at least on the blog. I don’t know if you want to stand outside in the heat and wait a couple of hours for a seat with me.

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  • Kat Robinson
HOLY SOW:  No explanation
  • Kat Robinson
  • HOLY SOW: No explanation
We were seated in a booth along the side of the front room, and from our vantage point you could see pretty much the whole restaurant — all the kitchy décor and pig-related items along the walls in the main room, the bar with its neat little bar stools, the sow over the door, and the little back room. Er, what? Yeah. A sow over the doorway. Wearing a quad-kini. Well, what else would you cover six teats with?

I took a few photos and realized we’d made a mistake in where we had been seated. I mean, it was perfect as far as the atmosphere went. There was this lovely scent of smoke throughout the building, and the music wasn’t overwhelming and we could talk. But there was a neon beer sign in the window above me, and it cast this red light over everything Gah.

But that was okay. I mean, I’m not a world class photographer. I write about food. And y’all put up with me, which is awesome.

WITH FLASH:  True colors of the Sampler Platter
  • Kat Robinson
  • WITH FLASH: True colors of the Sampler Platter
Paul’s Sampler Combo ($14.95) consisted of four bones of smoked pork ribs, some smoked pork butt, beef brisket, cole slaw, and sour cream based bacony potato salad. The ribs are Iowa grown corn fed pig, according to the menu, smoked for six hours or more in the pit. Paul says the spices in the dry rub were excellent, the meat was succulent and tender. “It pulled away from the bone so easily it wasn’t even funny. I’m surprised they didn’t fall apart being taken off the rack in the pit. Nice smoke ring.” He also said the pork butt was juicy and went well with the sauce.

The cole slaw was apparently very good, since Paul didn’t even let me try it, very creamy with a good texture. The potato salad was a lot like Miss Mary’s at Crosseyed Pig, but stronger on the sour cream and without the Cheddar cheese.

I did sneak some of his barbecue beef brisket. The meat was nice and savory, just enough smoke to make it mouthwatering. I really liked it with the sauce, though. That barbecue sauce started off smoky and went down to spicy with just enough tangy sweetness to make the whole thing work. I was all about that.

SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED:  Bubbas cheeseburger
  • Kat Robinson
  • SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED: Bubba's cheeseburger
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  • Kat Robinson
But I had the burger. The Cheeseburger ($6.95) is a third pound of fresh hand patted ground chuck that’s never seen a freezer. It’s griddle-smashed on a griddle that’s been building up seasoning since 1980. You get your choice of Provolone or Cheddar cheese with it; Rob suggested trying both so I did. It comes unassembled with an untoasted bun, green leaf lettuce, tomato, very thin sliced white onion and dill pickle.

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  • Kat Robinson
The first thought I had on the first bite was how soft the whole affair was. Because the bun isn’t toasted, it has a lot of give. But even with a nice burger crust formed, the meat itself is more tender than I have come to expect from a burger. I’d asked for medium rare and it felt right, the right not-too-hot internal temperature, the hints of pinkness, all of it.
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  • Kat Robinson
I actually had the presence of mind to hold the burger up in the natural daylight that was about chest-level on me.

I’ve become a burger connoisseur with the assignments I get with Serious Eats. This is one hell of a burger.

If you get it, yeah, chips are fine, but spring another $2.25 and get yourself an order of the French fries. They’re hand cut and fresh and brown and soft and wonderful, especially dunked in some barbecue sauce.

ITS THE PITS:  One of two at Bubbas
  • Kat Robinson
  • IT'S THE PITS: One of two at Bubba's
There were many offerings for dessert, including a lemon-blueberry cake I really wanted, but there was just no way. We were stuffed. I made it through the burger but not through both fries and chips.

I was treated to one thing that I was really curious about… the pit. I’m so used to seeing smokehouses around here. I was taken through the kitchen and allowed to peer into one of the two pits. It smelled like I hope heaven smells, redolent of good wood, good ash, good meat and well-chosen spices. Nom.

So, you wanna go? I’ll ride shotgun. You can find Bubba’s Southern Pit BBQ at 166 Van Buren in Eureka Springs — that’s Highway 62 on the historic loop. There’s a great website, or you can call (479) 253-7706.

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