For every four-star chef whipping up expensive, modern cuisine in high-end cities and neighborhoods across the country, there’s someone diligently hunched over a smoker frying their brisket like an over-protective parent, expertly waiting for the precise moment where the outer smoke ring is just crispy enough and the meat's fall-apart tender.
Barbecue, as much as an undignified rap as it gets, is definitely a skilled and artful endeavor. Arguably just as much as the crafting of top-rated, high end cuisine. There’s the choice of meat, the temperature, the sauce, the timing and countless other variables that go into crafting the delicious smoked and grilled meats of this culinary genre.
So, upon hearing about n Largo, you’ve gotta wonder: are these guys the experts showing the world how delicious and complex this seemingly unfussy cuisine can be, or simply another faceless barbecue joint simply going through the motions?
The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.
First and foremost, the sauce, over everything else, is the crowning achievement of the Rib Shack. “Sauce is boss” is a cheesy, but apt phrase when it comes to making your barbecue shine above the rest. The blend at Rib Shack was a subtly sweet concoction perfect for drowning your chopped pork, beef, chicken, or ribs in.
The chopped pork itself didn’t quite elicit the same awe as the sauce did. Not that it was bad; this is barbecue we’re talking here, but it just wasn’t excellent. A bit tough in comparison to tender pork I've tasted in the past and it's overly-smoked bits were a downright chore to chew , but the chopped pork was plentiful and reasonably priced (~$7).
The chopped beef faired a little better. Soft and succulent, perfect on the sauce-soaked sesame bun provided, the beef was an enjoyable flavor-change from the typically pig-based nature of barbecue.
There are only three choices for sides, baked beans, coleslaw, or potato salad. The baked beans were compentent with a hint of maple-y sweetness and a bit of shredded pork throughout. The potato salad was a bit more underwhelming and nothing you couldn’t buy at the grocery store down the road.
Overall, Smokin Rib shack is a worthy barbecue joint. The sauce itself is a perfectly good reason they should stay open for a long while. Other menu items like ribs, sausage and chicken seem like they have potential in addition to the chopped pork and beef.
If they tweak just a few things and add a little more TLC to the process, they could be on their way to smoky greatness.