Monday, September 21, 2009

Urban Barbecue Company (8/10) - 2007 Chapman Ave., Rockville, MD 20852

Although I had eaten at Rockland's too many times to count, I had not truly explored the Washington DC metropolitan area enough to find a great barbecue establishment.  I was excited to read that Gayut had ranked Urban Barbecue Company one of the top ten barbecue restaurants in the country.  I didn't research whether Gayut knew barbecue from its butthole, but I also didn't need much motivation to get outside and search for great food.

Located in Rockville, Maryland, a suburb Northwest of the city, Urban Barbecue Company is a new establishment headed by a Texas native.  Bumper stickers from other Texas barbecue restaurants (Black's) and Texas football memorabilia illustrate that the restaurant is Texan through and through.  That was quite alright with me as Texas barbecue at the time was definitely my preference.  After scanning the menu, I decided to get the most bang for my dollar (now that it was a limited commodity) and chose the three-meat platter.  When in Texas, order beef and sausage (and pork I suppose if you're privy to a third option).

The brisket was legendary.  It was served warm and each bite had both a great hickory smoked flavor and a little cap (fat on top of the brisket) on it.  The sausage was fairly mediocre (they do not make it in the restaurant) while the pulled pork was very moist and in large delicious chunks.  Like most Texas establishments, the barbecue was served with multiple slices of Sunbeam white bread which I absolutely love.  If there was ever a carbo-loading diet, I'd be on it in a heartbeat.  I'm of the strict philosophy that every type of meat tastes better in a sandwich. The brisket was delicious, the Yella sauce was great, why wouldn't I wrap it up in a slice of white bread and gorge my face ?  If anyone sees that sandwich to the right and doesn't immediately get hungry and/or jealous, I prefer you to not read any further.  That sandwich symbolizes my passion for food and my love for barbecue, and you not loving it equally is insulting.

I approached the counter and asked whether anyone at the restaurant minded taking me on a 'behind the scenes' tour of the restaurant.  The counter lady yelled back towards John, the general manager, who fortunately took me on my first detailed -- 30 minute -- walk-through of a barbecue restaurant.  He discussed the restaurant's indoor Southern Pride smoker, and took me through the walk-in refrigerator, the cook-line behind the counters (where they have a nice UT flag), and even back to the stock pile of hickory out back (it was locked up in a large plastic box due to thievery).  The walk-in refrigerator was stocked full of already pulled pork and large cooked briskets, furthering my concern of how difficult it would be to run a restaurant while managing the inventory of slow smoked meats.  I also learned that Urban Barbecue Co. reheats the previously cooked brisket in a stainless steel pan over a low heat prior to serving.  

Before I left, John offered to prepare me fried rib-ends - a dish he created.  He cut a three-rib piece off the end of slab, then he dropped it into a deep fryer for about 8-seconds before pulling it out and onto an open flame on their grill to flam bay the grease soaked meat.  He then put the sizzling ribs back on the cutting board so he could remove the rib bones for me.  They were then ready to be served.

The ribs still had a good smoky flavor despite the deep fry.  I love a little grease so I wasn't too surprised that I enjoyed the meat.  I dunked it in more Yella sauce before heading back to my Ballston apartment in Northern Virginia.    

Urban Bar-B-Cue Company 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.