Saturday, July 29, 2006
Mark's Feed Store, Louisville, KY
On her blog, Whining and Dining (see the link on the right), Leslie Kelley alerted us to the fact that cheaptickets.com had listed their top destinations for barbecue over the Fourth of July weekend--and Memphis was not among them!
One of the places listed was Mark's Feed Store in Louisville, KY, my home town. Today I am there, visiting my parents, so I convinced them they should join my sister, our niece and me there for lunch.
I hadn't been before, since my mom cooks so well that we don't usually eat out when I'm there. And when my sister is also in town, and we go out for dinner together, we are NOT looking for barbecue! There are too many great restaurants in Louisville to do that.
We got there just ahead of the crowd, which was a good thing, since by the time we left, there were no parking places in the lot, and the only empty tables were a few two-tops.
Pork Sandwich with Burgoo
It isn't far from my niece's home, so she had been there several times before. She didn't even look at the menu, and ordered the pork sandwich with burgoo. My mom always eats chicken and asked for no sauce on her chicken. My dad, as always ordered the ribs, my sister got the pork plate, substituting potato salad for the spicy fries, and I got the pork sandwich, substituting the deep-fried corn for the fries. The waitress was very obliging as we each made our own variations to the menu combos.
Pork Sandwich with Deep-Fried Corn
It came out promptly and the waitress did not have to ask "Who got the chicken?" but quite professionally delivered the right plates to the right people.
The chicken, served on the bone, came without sauce, as requested, but seemed to me to be a bit dry and overcooked. I didn't taste the ribs, but my dad said they were good, but without a deep-smoked flavor. The pulled pork was very tender and juicy, but again, lacked the definite smoky flavor that we get here in Memphis at the local joints. The interesting thing was the house sauce, which was a definite mustardy yellow. I had tasted it alone (bottles were on the table) and hadn't particularly liked it, but it also came on the sandwiches, and was much better on the pork.
Burgoo is a soup with its roots in Western Kentucky. Long cooked, with a variety of meats and vegetables, it should be dark and rich and only mildly spicy. This was sort of "gluey," as if it had been thickened with flour, and the dominant flavor was hot pepper. If you'd never had it at the source (Owensboro, KY, where I was born), you wouldn't go out of your way for it after tasting this version.
SO: How did it measure up to our Memphis BBQ? Not even close, if you like the good smoky flavor you get from most of our locally owned spots. The pork itself was tasty, as were the ribs. I loved the deep-fried corn on the cob. Two thumbs down for both the chicken and the burgoo. Thumbs up on the cheerful and efficient service. The mustardy house sauce is a matter of taste; everyone else liked it better than I did.
Will I go back there again? With all the great restaurants in Louisville? No way!