Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Bar-B-Q Shop (10/10) - 1782 Madison Ave, Memphis, TN 38104

Monday - Day 4 (Labor Day): Of all the barbecue restaurants in Memphis that I put on my map and/or had on the Labor Day Trip agenda, I was definitely the most excited to try The Bar-B-Q Shop.  We had called them the previous afternoon to learn whether they were open on Labor Day.  They confirmed that they would be serving lunch from 11:30am - 3:00pm so Matt and I arrived at the restaurant no later than 5 minutes after 11:30am.

The Bar-Q-Shop is separated into two large rooms, both of which were painted a rich deep burgundy color.  The front entry leads into the main room where we sat for lunch.  I ordered a drink then got up from the table to survey the restaurant and buy a t-shirt.  A long full-service bar runs alongside the length of the left wall and the entry to the kitchen is positioned at the back of the room.  The room to the right of the main room provides extra tables and booths for the restaurant's patrons, which I assume the Bar-B-Q Shop grew into as more space was needed.

As I returned from my brief voyage across the restaurant's grounds, Matt was having a lengthy conversation with our waitress and a man who I presumed (and was later confirmed) as the owner of the restaurant.  As I approached, the owner, Eric Vernon, and the waitress were sincerely asking Matt about our barbecue tour and were both friendly and interested to learn the highlights from our journey.  They recommended that we stop at the Beauty Shop, a bakery/lounge/restaurant, on our way out of town, and also told us that the Germantown Commissary, where Matt and I planned on eating next, served great barbecue as well.  Although I cannot quantify how much a friendly wait staff and owner can influence my opinion of an experience at a restaurant, it can definitely elevate a good experience to a great one.  Both The Bar-B-Q Shop's and Papas Barbecue's owners took great pride in their barbecue and wanted to ensure that we had a great experience as well.

In addition to ordering a half-slab of ribs (half wet/half dry) we ordered a pulled pork sandwich which is served with a healthy topping of slaw.  The wet portion of the ribs are covered in The Dancing Pigs' Sauce (the Bar-B-Q Shop's competition team name) while the dry section is covered in its dry rub.  Both were absolutely divine.    The thick sauce has a great flavor, too difficult to describe, and a good kick.  After I ripped the meat off a dry rib and combined it with the meat from a wet rib, I put it on piece of toast and ate the bite of the century.  

I then transitioned my focus and picked up the pulled pork sandwich and immediately grabbed my camera.

That picture illustrates the most divine barbecue I've ever seen: thick moist pieces of pork smothered with cole slaw in between two buttered up pieces of white toast.  To make things any better, it tasted great too; it had   a perfect combination consistency and flavor.  As we finished our meal, I could have easily ordered another slab of ribs even though I knew that we'd be eating again within the hour.  This meal was epic and writing this article is convincing me to drive back to Memphis ASAP for another meal.

Bar-B-Q Shop on Urbanspoon

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Ratings and Reviews

In order to provide a consistent grading standard across each restaurant/region, I order a barbecue pork sandwich (and other meats/sides if a restaurant/region specializes in another specialty). In addition to comparing the quality of food, I will also take into consideration other intangibles (ambiance, atmosphere, service, authenticity, etc.) in my ratings as I deem appropriate.

Basically, a 10/10 represents an incredible meal, while a 6/10 score indicates a decent dining experience but a substantial number of dishes fell short of great. Lower scores indicate unpleasant experiences which I would most likely not even recommend to my worst enemy (Jonas Singer).

I reserve the right to continuously edit/update previous posts and to change rating scores as I see fit.