Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review: Kentucky Greg's Hickory Pit

When I first really started to get into the fine details of barbecue, Kentucky Greg taught me a very important lesson: "There is no such thing as bad barbecue. There is simply barbecue you might like, and other kinds of barbecue that other people might like." So as I sample local grub and write about it here, try to keep that in mind. Even though I'm one of the smartest yahoos you'll ever meet, my tastes may just not be the same as yours. Please support all our local barbecue dives and judge for yourself stupid!

Kentucky Greg's Hickory Pit

I had the pleasure of meeting Greg Engelhardt a couple years back when he sat down with me for an interview and shared his thoughts and philosophies on barbecue. I used some of that interview in a video I posted on an earlier version of this website, but regret that I haven't stayed in touch with Greg since then. So when I decided to start doing some barbecue reviews on this new blog, I had to start with Kentucky Greg's Hickory Pit.

Jill and I took a couple friends who had never been to the Pit before for dinner, so we were already feeling good and ready for some mouth watering Q. Greg's has a pretty standard fair for beer, so I opened the night with a draft Bud as we eyeballed the menu. I had already taken a sneak peek at work, so my dinner started with a cup of the Brunswick Stew. Saying the stew was friggin' great is an understatement, and is certainly a contender for the best thing I had all night. The stew had hearty chunks of Greg's barbecue beef and pork, giving the broth a subtle smokey flavor, along with generous cuts of vegetables. I shared the stew with Jill and her eyes lit up on the first bite. (Hmm...I remember when she used to look at me like that!) Anyway, she ended up taking a pint home to eat later. That was the only appetizer we tried, but no worries because our entrees came out really fast.

Knowing that Jill would order ribs and I could steal one or two, I ordered the two meat combo with pulled pork and chicken (leg and thigh). I was given a choice between white and dark cuts, which I thought was a nice touch. Now, I forgot to ask for sauce on the side so it came with a helping of Greg's sweet sauce already poured on. Ain't a damn thing wrong with that, but sometimes I just like to try the meat without sauce first so I can get a sense of the dry rub and smoke flavors before saucing it up. I am partial to barbecue chicken, so it's no surprise that I enjoyed the quarter chicken more than the pork. A nice forkfull of dark meat and a bit of the barbecued skin in each bite...really well done. Since the sweet sauce was already on the pile of pork, I did dig to the bottom and get some meat to try with the spicy sauce Greg offers on the tables. I love hot spice, but I know many people don't care for much in their barbecue, so it surprised me how much of a kick the sauce had.  I'm still developing my pallet for this sort of thing, so I couldn't pick out the dominant spice being used, but there was definitely something coming through strong and tasty. 

Of course Jill can't eat all those ribs, so I was more than happy to dig right in. Greg's serves a St. Louis cut rib in either a 1/2 or full slab, or as part of a combo platter. Jill's 1/2 slab was served without sauce, which I like, so I was able to get a great bite of the spices from the dry rub and the flavor of the smoke. Um, I love trying different sauces, but these were the first ribs I ever had that I was happy to leave the sauce off. The flavor and texture were that good. The meat pulled easy from the ribs, another plus for me, and there was a noticeable smoke ring and good penetration of the rub. I did try a bit of the sweet sauce on my last bite to get a sense of how it complimented the other flavors, but I tell you it wasn't needed to make these ribs great.

My side dishes included Greg's hickory baked beans, which he cooks right on the pit. So I was able to get two or three wonderful bites in before our friend Taryn took the bowl and finished them herself. Bitch...they were really good! My second side was some collared greens, which I had never tried before in my life. I thought I would be adventurous and embrace a dish that is pretty popular in barbecue culture, but alas, I didn't care for them all that much. I'm sure as far as collard greens go, Greg's were probably delicious like everything else we had, but it just wasn't my thing. I blame Jill.

So the girls finished the meal by sharing a Sweet and Salty Fudge Pie with vanilla ice cream on top (like that was really needed). Um, do I really have to tell you if it was any good? Look at the picture stupid! I love eating pretzels with ice cream already, so this dessert was a hit even before I tasted it. A must have when you go there.

Some quick hits:
Greg's is a typical barbecue joint in that it's not too big, not fancy, plays great rhythm and blues, and has the obligatory picture of Elvis on the wall. Overall, a laid back comfy joint to hang out and have a few beers.
Service was exceptional, even when we stayed past the official closing time so Cale and I could have a final beer of the night. I wish I had gotten our waitress's name to compliment her, so my bad this time around.

All I can say is get your ass to Kentucky Greg's Hickory Pit and enjoy. It really was a great night, with great friends and exceptional barbecue. That's what it's all about folks! Check out Greg's website and give him a "like" on Facebook.

Kentucky Greg's Hickory Pit
2186 George Urban Blvd.
Depew, NY 14043


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