We were parked at Rascal?s. I got out of the car and was immediately engulfed in the powerful smell of hickory smoke. I had a feeling this could be good?
Rascal?s goes one step further in proving my BBQ theory. You can get high quality, tasty BBQ anywhere in the world, as long as the owners are on site. We grabbed a table and were asked what our drinks would be. Terri likes their sweet tea and while I usually take my iced tea unsweetened, I was feeling a wee bit homesick so I ordered the sweet tea as well. It was actually good. Sweet tea is very hit or miss outside the south (and inside the south for that matter) but this was really good. Not syrupy sweet like Texas sweet tea but just sweet enough to take the edge off. This was a very good sign.
I checked out the menu and decided that the only way to truly get the whole Rascal?s experience was to loosen the belt and go for the Sampler plate. With that you got some pulled pork, beef brisket, cajun sausage and BBQ ribs plus 3 side orders. The sides consisted of hot and smokey beans, sweet and smokey beans, potato salad, coleslaw and deep fried corn on the cob (more evidence that these folks were southerners. Who else would deep fry corn?) I love good beans so I opted for both kinds of beans and the potato salad. Let?s party!
The server, a fine figure of a young, blonde woman, came back shortly with plates lined up her arm. She put a huge platter in front of me, piled high with various smokey and delicious meats slathered in a thick red sauce. ?This is part of your dinner.? she smiled. ?PART??? I thought. Oh yeah, the sides hadn?t arrived yet. Damn, I better let the belt out two holes instead of one. The sides arrived on a separate plate, three small bowls of goodness.
I started with the brisket. Aside from chicken, brisket is the easiest BBQed meat to dry out and turn to shoe leather. I popped a slice into my mouth and was surprised at how moist it was. Tender, juicy and just excellent. The sauce was a good mixture of sweet with a healthy dash of vinegar. Tangy and just sweet enough, without being face puckering, with a nice dash of heat. The pulled pork was transcendent. It was as perfectly cooked pork shoulder as I have had anywhere. Big chunks of piggy deliciousness without any fat or gristle. The word flawless comes to mind. The cajun sausage was nice and spicey with a good flavor but not all that remarkable and the ribs were quite tasty too. Delicious, tender and smokey, but nothing approaching The Rendezvous in Memphis, South Street in Nashville or my back yard on Labor Day. The hot beans had a very good flavor but had just a wee too much burn to them for my taste and the sweet beans just a skosh too sweet but when mixed together, they were absolutely perfect. Potato salad is potato salad. Good mayonnaise based salad but nothing out of the ordinary. Marc ordered the deep fried corn on the cob. I just couldn?t bring myself to do it. It was corn, skewered corndog-esque, on a stick and dropped into the Fry-O-Later. He raved about it and I believe him. I mean, what?s not better deep fried??
All in all, Rascal?s gets this southern gentleman?s seal of approval. It was exactly as promised. Delicious, well cooked, properly smoked BBQ. Nothing fancy, nothing gourmet about it. Just like BBQ is supposed to be.
The owner? Steve Kledaras. Came to our table. Checked on us. Great guy!!I knew we were at the right place as soon as I stepped out of the car and inhaled?