Monday, April 26, 2010

BBQ Quest: RouXbarbecue

Let me preface this post by saying RouXbarb is one of my favorite restaurants in Knoxville. I love the creativity of Bruce Bogartz's menus (and boy, does he come up with some tasty stuff), not to mention the quality of food you get for the price is amazing. Because I hold RouXbarb in such high regard, I had some serious expectations for RouXbarbecue. I mean, one of my favorite chefs tackles one of my favorite kinds of foods and promises to do some in a Memphis style? Fabulous!

Well the Modern Fiance and I paid our first visit to RouXbarbecue on Saturday and found it, well, disappointing.

Before I get into why I was disappointed, let me also say that Bruce did an amazing job transforming his space, previously the Hardees at Rocky Hill, into RouXbarbecue. It feels like a BBQ joint and looks nothing like a fast food restaurant. The aesthetic is perfect, the bar looks fun and his smoker set up out on the porch looks like a chef's dream. We sat on the patio, which was huge and also a nice touch.

But then there were the tables, which looked awesome but were hard to squeeze into, even for the 5-foot-4 Modern Gal, because they were kind of short (or maybe the benches were high) and had a lot going on on the ground to keep them propped up. I watched as a fellow diner in a wheelchair had to sit at his table at an awkward angle because he couldn't even begin to get his wheelchair to fit at the table.

Now the food, since that's what this BBQ Quest is all about. The pork was tender and the consistency was right with a little bit of the fatty stuff and a little bit of the tough stuff. But the taste was bland with no hint of smokiness to it. The bun was tasty, but the sauce was your typical North Carolina-style sauce that you find all over the place here. Runny and again, bland. I soaked my 'cue in it and still hardly tasted it. The Modern Fiance broke protocol and tried the ribs. They were Memphis-style dry rub, but I couldn't really taste the spices.

I had swooned when I heard he was offering mac and cheese with Benton's bacon mixed in. Seriously, who does not love Benton's bacon? Well, I think my serving had only two or three tiny bits of bacon, which I couldn't even taste. The mac and cheese itself? Also bland. I nibbled at the slaw, but won't pass judgment on it since I'm not much of a slaw fan. The cabbage bits were huge and it had a lot of mayo and a few spices -- the Modern Fiance approved. The fries were decent too.

The lemonade I had was tasty, and the meal came with a side of cheesy biscuity cornbready bread and dipping sauce (I think it was raspberry?) though neither blew me away. We didn't try any desserts, namely because there was no banana pudding, but I'm presuming they're similar to RouXbarb's fare and probably well worth it.

I should also note that the restaurant, which just opened on Thursday, is suffering from the typical new-restaurant service gliches, like servers forgetting to bring silverware to the tables until after the food had been served. I don't fault the restaurant for that since every new place tends to struggle with things until everyone's in a rhythm. Just be warned if you make your own visit sometime soon.

I'm not writing off RouXbarbecue completely, and for this reason: I know Bruce likes to tinker with his menus, so I *hope* he'll be working to improve his RouXbarbecue fare. I also saw some tasty-looking Po'boys at a nearby table that I'd like to try, and cajun is definitely among his talents.

7426 S. Northshore Dr.
Knoxville, TN 37919


Unknown said...

Is this the place whose marquis sign says, "If your car gets towed, it's Roosters fault?" ???

The Modern Gal said...

Yes, I had forgotten about that detail.

Mickey said...

Still on the Barbecue Quest, huh?

(Of course you are. The quest for perfect barbecue never ends. Keep the dream alive!)

Anonymous said...

This review echo my thoughts exactly! We tried it last night and were very, they have no kids menu and were out of high-chairs when we arrived at 6pm...only 2 were being used throughout the place at the time.

Your review of the food was dead on too...bland and just so-so, overall. I'd be willing to give the cajun offerings a try maybe.