Friday, June 11, 2010

The Quest For the Holy Grail of BBQ Continues

Blogs are great for many things but the written record they leave behind has helped me on more than one occasion. A while back, I wrote another post on my quest for the holy grail of BBQ and Mr. Sherman, as he has done a time or two before, left in the comments the name of another place I should try out. Although my memory wasn't good enough to remember that fact, my wife's memory was and so I searched out and found the comment to officially put Phil's BBQ of St. Louis on our itinerary during our recent mini-vacation. I'm glad I did though for reasons other than the food.

The food was excellent though not in the running under my definition of what the holy grail of BBQ would taste like. Despite the picture of my plate above, I won't go into detail about it though I would recommend it to others who happen to be in the area along with Pappy's Smokehouse which is the top runner in my quest so far. Rather I would like to expound upon the dinning experience which was unlike any I have ever had.

By design, we pulled into the parking lot around 1:30 on a weekday so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. We found a seat in a corner booth up front and soon an old lady came over to pass out menus and take our drink order. By take, I mean she pointed her pencil at each one of us in turn until we told her what we wanted to drink. She never said one word.

After she left, my wife and I exchanged glances over the encounter and we were both in agreement that the old waitress had seemed incredibly rude. There wasn't a greeting of any sort, nor a smile, just a stabbing gesture with her pencil. She soon came back with our drinks and it was then when I began to suspect that I had made a serious error in judgement. This time she was smiling, especially at my daughter, as she gave us our drinks. She then proceeded to take our orders in a similar manner as our drinks. However, it was soon clear when someone asked her a question that she couldn't speak. So I quickly took over and asked our guests dining with us the questions I knew from experience the old waitress was wanting to ask but couldn't. She smiled with appreciation and walked off to hand our ticket to the cooks.

The meal went smoothly though there were a couple rounds of an abbreviated form of twenty questions with the old waitress at a couple of points. The owner of the restaurant came over to talk with us and he turned out to be Phil's son and was happy to learn that we came clear from Iowa just to eat at his place because it had been recommended to us. After that, I probably could have asked for a 5 gallon bucket of BBQ for the road and he would have given it to me free of charge. The old waitress, I'm assuming was Phil's wife and the mother of the owner, came over once more to give my daughter a sucker our of a big jar which really made my daughter happy though my daughter inquired later why she couldn't speak. I told her that it was because she'd had a bad daughter who had caused her to scream so much she lost her voice. It made an impression because later my daughter said she would always be a good girl so I don't lose my voice too.

This was my first experience around a mute waitress and whenever I talk with the owners telling them that I came from a long way on a recommendation, the stop is always memorable. I'm glad I stopped in and I probably will do so again in the future when I'm in the area. Until then, the quest for the holy grail of barbecue lives on.

My Wife's Plate


R. Sherman said...

I forgot to to mention her in the previous comment. Sorry you weren't prepared.

Phil's is pretty good and is a classic St. Louis style, especially with the pork steaks: direct heat followed by tomato based sauce.

(BTW, the next time you're in town swing into a supermarket and pick up a few bottles of Maull's sauce to take home. It's what every self-respecting St. Louisan uses.)


Ed said...

R. Sherman - I'm glad you didn't or as you can tell, my post on the BBQ place would have been much shorter. I like surprises. I'll make sure I point out the sauce link to my wife so she remembers it for me the next time I'm down your way.

sage said...

What an experience... and how hard it must be for her, for I'm sure that many some leave thinking she's just rude. I'm now hungry and it ain't even 11 AM.

Murf said...

A mute waitress? Only you could find such a thing.

I like your wife's plate better. Nicely segregated, nothing touching.

Ron said...

Wow, that looks good!


Three Score and Ten or more said...

I share your enthusiasm for some of the places you have mentioned. I will never recommend a place from my home state of Idaho. In Idaho then cook a lot of good food, but to most Idahoans, Barbeque is some kind of beef cooked in some manner on the grill and to others it means a Barbeque Beef Sandwich (Known in the rest of the world as a Sloppy Joe). Until you get to the coastal south you will never find the real Holy Grail of BBQ. It is a close struggle between Vandy's BBQ in Statesboro, GA and The Three Pigs BBQ in Columbia South Carolina. The are as different as day and night but both worth a journey. Three Pigs is a buffet with four different types of pulled pork, ribs, and occasionally a Turkey and/or a whole pork butt, barbequed but just put on a platter and one takes it off as/ and in amounts, determined by the patron. The only trouble is the bloating that comes from trying to eat some of everything. (I have one son who can do it, and I think I might have had the capacity thirty or forty years ago.

Ed said...

Sage - It certainly reminds me not to judge people too soon.

Murf - Segregation was brought to an end over a half century ago. Where have you been?

Ron - It was very tasty.

3 Score - A BBQ Buffet sounds like nothing but pain for the next 24 hours to me. Both places are duly noted and on my itinerary if I ever make it down to coastal Georgia.

Murf said...

In the world of eating and food placement on plates, segregation should and does live on!

TC said...

Mmmmmm. Looks awesome!