Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Guy Fieri Ate Here

We learned about Leonard's Pit Barbecue during an episode of Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network. Seeing the restaurant did not help us answer the question: Into which category would Leonard's fit? When we were seated next to the truck parked inside the restaurant, we acknowledged that the eatery fit into the category: "Unusual."

I have always liked the concept of buffets—a variety of foods and the ability to have second or third servings of things you like—but not always their execution. So I was torn between ordering from Leonard’s menu and trying the buffet. One reconnaissance of the buffet selections, left me wondering why the number of selections was so limited. After a consultation with a gentleman at the next table, Chuck learned that there was an additional buffet line in a second room.

Walking into this second room and seeing the selctions was like seeing the curtain calls for performers in a classic opera. We could almost hear the shouts of "Bravo" as we surveyed the buffet "stars" taking bows in the spotlights (l to r: catfish, barbecue sauce, pulled pork, wet ribs, and dry ribs). This second buffet line convinced both Chuck and me that buffet was the answer.

To begin, here are the items we did not try—corn on the cob, collards, barbecue chicken, barbecue spaghetti, and peach cobbler.

Chuck’s plate (lower dish) displays the dry ribs, pulled pork, catfish fillet, green beans, baked beans, potato salad, and mashed potatoes and gravy. (In case you’re wondering, yes he did have two potato forms.) My plate contains the wet ribs (I did go back later for a serving of the dry), pulled pork, catfish fillet, potato wedges, baked beans, and cole slaw.

First for what didn’t work. Neither the potato wedges nor the catfish held up well on a steam table. While the crust on the catfish stayed crisp, the fish underneath was mealy and lacking in flavor. The potatoes had flavor but had lost any vestige of crispness. The cole slaw was too sweet and too tart--if that is possible.

The pulled pork was the best yet with a substantial quantity of pork “bark” to give additional flavor and texture to the juicy meat. And the optional sauce brought out the smoky, porky flavor. Truly great pulled pork. The wet ribs, while meaty and lean (the words “lean ribs” appears on the sign outside the restaurant) tasted too sweet. The same sauce that worked well on the pulled pork was almost over caramelized and sticky.

Chuck chose a small slab of the dry ribs which did not have much meat. I, on the other hand, took a large four rib portion that was heavy with meat. These were so delicious as served that topping them with the standard sauce would obscure the rub’s and pork’s smoky flavor.

The potato salad was excellent without much mustard or relish. The green beans were slow cooked with smoked meat. The baked beans were sweet and tender.

By the time we got to dessert, the lemon ice box pie was gone. Chuck took carrot cake, and I a wedge of chocolate cake. I am sure that both are from a commercial food provider but were good if not great.

As we were paying our bill, we talked with Loretta about the filming of their restaurant for Guy's show. She was effusive in her praise of him and his crew. "He's a crazy guy, but it's a wonderful crazy. He is as nice a guy off camera as he appears on camera. We thoroughly enjoyed his visit."

There was a full moon last night, and its appearance in combination with the Mississippi and the river workers was magical.

We knew we would be camping on the shores of the Mississippi, but we did not realize how deeply this river and its "resource-movers" would affect us. It is mesmerizing just to watch life moving on the river.

1 comment:

jc said...

hey juys. you just left Central BBQ and as you were pulling out of the lot I realized that I didn't tell you about the Soul Fish Cafe. It's a nice little catfish joint located over here near us in Cooper Young.
It was nice meeting you two. Enjoy the rest of your time here in the MidSouth.