Tuesday, August 24, 2010

BBQ fo' shizzle

Abbe and Jebby travel next to Reo's Ribs, the home of Snoop Dogg's uncle and his famous southern style BBQ on SW Macadam. 

Abbe and Jebby's Meal: Five Meat Sampler
Abbe's Review: This plate was intimidating to say the least. I mean, I enjoy a little meat here and there, a good burger, some fried chicken, my cousin’s brisket at Passover, but this was like taking all of those things, plus a cow’s leg, and throwing them onto a plate. When they served it to us I felt like a caveman about to dive head first into a gutted antelope. A caveman strangely surrounded by large posters of Snoop Dogg.
Jebby and I dug in with our forks, grabbing a piece of each meat for our plates and leaving the giant ribs for last. The first thing I took a bite of was the Brisket and oh lord have mercy, I would eat that brisket every day if I could. My fork did not need the aid of a knife to cut through this baby, it was like butter, I could have cut a piece off with a cotton ball. In my mouth, it melted into an epic concoction of BBQ smoke and hand crafted flavors that made a juicy explosion of win. I couldn’t help but think that absolutely nothing left on this plate would ever add up to the bliss that was this brisket.
Next I took a bite of the chicken. Honestly, what is better than a good piece of BBQ grilled chicken on a summer day? The chicken was tender, bursting with flavor, and succulent. Not to mention it had that nice layer of crispy burnt BBQ sauce that makes my taste buds practically hurt from the deliciousness.
Then came the daunting task of getting the meat off of the ribs and into our bellies. Forks and knives were no match for these puppies, Jebby and I took turns shoving giant pork and beef rib into our mouths and pulling off big chunks with prideful smiles and grunts of approval. I have never had ribs before. Yes I know, it’s crazy, if not un-American, but true. So I was new to this “you don’t use a utensil, you just push it into your face and bite” method of eating. Needless to say, I think I rocked it.
Jebby and I didn’t realize that our 5 meat plate actually only came with 4 meats until just now while reviewing so there apparently will be no review of the pork roast, which was mysteriously missing. We will however have to go back to Reo’s and inform them that they owe us some meat.
Our meal came with two sides, we decided to really get southern and order the fried okra and collard greens. The okra was amazing, crisp and hot, but juicy and flavorful underneath. Plus it was significantly larger pieces of okra than I’m used to seeing at southern style restaurants. The collard greens were as good as any collard greens I’ve had before, but that’s about it. I wasn’t blown away by them, but I wasn’t disappointed either.
All in all, I was pretty impressed with this food. My first rib experience was one to remember and the best brisket I have ever tasted is now no longer located in a small Jewish home in Beaverton. Reo’s, you have stolen my cousin’s cooking glory, but you have restored my faith in BBQ bliss.
P.S. I love you Snoop Dogg!

Jebby’s Review:
I was expecting a lot of meat when we ordered Reo’s Five Meat Sampler. I mean, it says it right there in the name – you get five different kinds of meat. Another way to say it would be twenty dollars worth of meat. If you were to buy twenty dollars worth of pork ribs at Freddy’s, that would amount to enough hog to feed all the starving children in Ethiopia. But nothing could prepare my inner carnivore for the heaping plate of smokey goodness that was delivered to our table. Let’s just get the sides out of the way first so we can give the cow, pig and hen the attention they deserve.
            Abbe and I ordered collard greens and deep-fried okra with our meal. I love okra in all its slimy incarnations, but I am typically not a fan of fried okra. It’s usually greasy, the breading slides off, or it arrives cold – always, one thing or another isn’t right. But this fried okra was meaty, covered in crisp golden-brown batter and arrived piping hot. It retained a bit of that squooshiness that I so love, but I’d venture that people who like their okra sapped of all its lifeblood dry would appreciate the stuff at Reo’s. The collards were vegetarian, which usually is not my bag. But these were perfect – cooked just long enough to break down the tough fibrous bits, but with some toothsomeness left so it wasn’t like sucking down baby food. They tasted as good as any pork greens I’ve ever had. Alton Brown taught me about “pot liquor,” the chlorophyll-laden liquid left over after all the greens are gone. If the greens aren’t good, I don’t drink it, but you’d better believe I slurped this stuff down.
            Now for the meat. I’ll talk about the ribs first.  Abbe and I were momentarily lost for words. I’ve not had many ribs in Portland, these are the ones to beat so far. They were lightly charred on the outsides from the smoking, fall-off-the-bone tender, and blanketed in a thick, sweet-hot barbecue sauce that enhanced the flavor of the pork without overpowering it. Eating ribs is a near-sacred experience, if they’re good, and these were. We were silent as we sucked the meat from the bones and licked our sauce-laden fingers. In that moment, we could have been cavewomen, dancing around a fire pit in loincloths and waving our charred pig bits in a ritual of triumph. The beef ribs were a bit more of a challenge, texturally. They weren’t as broken-down tender as the pork, and there was only one of them. We took turns ripping chunks of beefiness from the bone with our teeth. I didn’t enjoy the beef rib as much as the pork, but it still blows all the other beef ribs I’ve ever had out of the water, and it was fun to eat.
The chicken had a supple texture I had never encountered before, likely because I’ve never eaten smoked chicken. The flavor was epic. Every fiber of chicken was permeated with smokiness. The brisket was on par with the deliciousness of the pork ribs. You could cut this shit with a spoon. Any connective tissue this cow contained was completely obliterated by what I can only imagine was an entire day of slow and low cooking. Even writing this review now is making me pine for another heaping plate of awesome. I’ll just say it now: if you love meat, especially Southern applications, you owe it to yourself to eat at Reo’s. Snoop would want you to.

Our overall review of Reo’s Ribs:

We had heard about Reo’s Ribs via an article in some local news joint about how there was a kerfuffle involving the haven of meaty goodness and some local residents who complained about how BBQ smoke was ruining their homes. I daydreamed endlessly about how grand life would be if my house smelled like barbecue all the time. Learning that Snoop Dogg’s uncle owned Reo’s Ribs was just icing on the cake. The siren song of ribs haunted my dreams. Serendipitously, a few days later Abbe described driving past a place on Macadam where delicious meat-scented smoke belched forth from big smokers all the livelong day, and we set out on our beefy adventure
Reo’s is located in a strip mall, and has a brightly lit, open interior adorned with several larger-than-life posters of Snoop D-o-double-g. You order your food and drinks at a counter and then seat yourself at some of the strangest booths I have ever seen. The booths are carved of wood, Texas-sized, and the backs are upholstered with fabric depicting western scenes. Four average-sized people could probably sit abreast comfortably on each side. Our fat booties were mighty pleased.
The menu is fairly limited to Southern staples and the meat section is predominantly comprised of different pork items, which, as far as we are concerned, is the way it should be. You can order bottomless soda to go with your smoked and fried treats, or for a few cents more, you can have bottomless sweet tea, lemonade, or fruit punch. These are lined up on the counter in frosty self-serve acrylic pitchers. They’re all delicious, but the sweet tea was perfect – dark as night and sweet as sin.
            While the décor is surprisingly anti-down home, the food is smoky, meaty heaven and the clientele seems friendly and laid back. An older couple across the isle from us struck up a conversation about local BBQ joints and offered opinions on their meal (which were all positive). The servers were helpful and friendly, and The Dogfather smiles down benevolently from on high. All-in-all, Reo’s is awesome and we would gladly return.

To view their full menu go to Reo'sRibsBBQ.com

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