The Divas cannot always agree, and that is what happens when you have two people reviewing the same place. Majority of the time, we are completely in sync, always ready to compromise with each other and generally wowed or disappointed by the same restaurants. Unfortunately, Blackstrap BBQ was not one of those places. Diva #2 ordered from Blackstrap BBQ for Father’s Day to prove to her dad once and for all who is in fact the better of his two children. Just a week later, Diva #1 went with her P’tit Frère and JB to drown their sorrows in BBQ goodness. Diva #2 had eagerly told everyone about everything that she ate and Diva #1 considered the money spent as a loss. Here are our separate stories.
So let’s talk about the concept. Blackstrap BBQ offers you the Memphis barbecue style of eating. Dylan Kier is the pitmaster cooking over an indirect flame using charcoal, as well as apple and oak woods. The meat is cooked in a dry rub; sauces are served on the side. The two sauces are their Carolina vinegar based spicier sauce and their tangier sweet sauce. Some cuts remain in the smoker overnight and in general the concept is about slow cooking in the Old Hickory Pits brought up from Missouri. Blackstrap BBQ often runs out of menu items, which is fair because they take their time to slow cook their meats and cannot be expected to come up with a brisket on demand. This is disappointing but understandable.
Those from ethnic families will understand that when it came to ordering out, there was an unwritten rule, you just don’t do it. Ordering a pizza in Diva #2’x family is an event! So for Father’s Day, Diva #2 decided to order Blackstrap BBQ since it was pouring rain outside and there was no they were going to BBQ. Luckily, Diva #2 lives in one of the handful of areas where Blackstrap BBQ delivers. Diva #1 does not think that this is something to be thankful for…
After a bad few days of lady problems, P’tit Frère needed a distraction and Diva #1 only knows how to cheer people up by feeding them or fueling them with alcohol. Off we went with JB for some beer and barbecue. We had been to other southern styled places and we were ready to try something new. We weren’t in the mood to dress up or have a wild night of any sorts so we headed to godforsaken Verdun to go to the famous Blackstrap BBQ. All the bloggers were talking about it; didn’t that mean it had to be good? They were right so many other times. Alas we were soon sorely disappointed…
So what did Diva #1’s little group eat? We started with the ribs and the deep fried mac n cheese squares. Preferring saucier ribs, Diva #1 was curious to try their dry rub that is raved about. All she could say was Meh! The meat was pretty cold and did not taste particularly smokey. We tried both their sauces, the spicy and sweet option and we weren’t impressed. First of all, the “spicy” option was barely spicy and if you cannot find spicy in a southern restaurant, then where else? The barbecue sauce was also too runny, with the same consistency as Tabasco as opposed to a thicker sauce for coating. Besides being cold, the ribs themselves were lacking in excitement.
It is sad to say but the best part of this particular dish was the deep fried mac n’ cheese squares. Delicious and creamy this little side was warm and gooey on the inside while crispy on the outside. Definitely the best part of our meal at Blackstrap BBQ. Other side dishes included fries, braised green beans, coleslaw and BBQ beans.
When Diva #2 had the ribs, they were still warm. And the meat came clean off the bone and you could clearly see the pink smoke-ring that penetrated the meat all the way to the bone. And they tasted good. Personally, Diva #2 feels like if you slather the meat in a sauce, while it might taste good, you’re not going to taste the meat which is the whole point. Diva #1 thinks that that’s fair, then do not offer a mediocre sauce at all, offer them bare if that is how they want them served… as opposed to coupled with a side of inferior sauce. The portion Diva #2 had was not lacking flavour. And the ribs were meaty, nothing scrawny about them. Diva #2 is used to eating spicy food and the spicy sauce she had on the side was indeed spicy.
We do agree on the deep fried mac n’ cheese which was essentially cubes of goodness. The outside was crunchy and the inside was creamy. A perfect side. Unfortunately, when Diva #2 ordered, they did not have any braised greens which she was curious to try.
Sadly they were out of brisket and turkey so Diva #1, JB and P’tit Frère all ordered the pork sandwich with fries. Meh suddenly turned to Eh. Once again it was served dry rub style, the same issues with the ribs’ BBQ sauce apply here too. Second of all there was nothing to add inside, some caramelized onions, maybe a few mushrooms…anything! The spices in the meat were not evident; actually to be honest we did not even finish the sandwiches. As we were chewing away and getting more annoyed with the situation we thought to ourselves, if you know that you often run out of your meats like the brisket or the turkey, why not have more options on the menu? At that moment we were all stuck with the same pork sandwich… with no hope of reprise. The fries were over salted…with each bite we just grew more resentful.
Diva #2 had the brisket sandwich and though the bun was a bit soggy from the coleslaw, the meat itself was moist, tender and as Diva #2’s mom put it, like butter! And the next day, the leftovers tasted even better. Diva #1 wished that she had tried the leftovers so she would not have wasted a trip to Verdun. Diva #2 thought that the flavour was incredible and the pickle on top was a nice touch. The Divas have a thing for pickles. In regards to Diva #1’s complaint about having add-ons. Yes, mushrooms would be great, we love them but the point of enjoying slow-smoked meats for people is for the meat, not to cover them up with extras. And that’s most likely why they do not have add-ons. Diva #1 would agree with this logic if the meat was delicious because it wasn’t up to par, some mushrooms would have helped their cause and maybe saved her from dying of boredom during this meal. So much for cheering up P’tit Frère by taking him out, we are lucky that he did not commit suicide. The only thing Diva #2 can say to this is that Diva #1 could have visited her, since she doesn’t live far from the “godforsaken” area but alas, she did not bother to drive an extra 5 minutes.
Diva #1, not always the fairest of people, played nice since she knew that Diva #2 liked the place so she considered the fact that perhaps her taste buds were off on this fine day. She timidly asked JB and P’tit Frère their opinions without making hers known, JB grunted that the place was “whatever” and P’tit Frère was surprised with how poor it was compared to one of our favourite BBQ places on Notre Dame in Griffintown, let’s not name names, but we love you (Diva #2 loves you as well!). Last but not least we ordered their infamous burnt ends poutine. We were ready for the splendor that we kept hearing about online! I guess it is true that you can’t trust everything that you read…
First of all the poutine was so salty it was basically inedible, Diva #1 and her gang could not believe it. The burnt bits were a lovely touch and the curds were plentiful but our satisfaction ended there. They had put too much sauce making the French fries soggy and the saltiness even more evident. Another unfinished plate was left on the table.
When Diva #2 had the infamous burnt end poutine, yes, it was salty, after all, you have fries, cheese and gravy but it wasn’t to the point of being inedible. And everyone knows we are picky with our poutines. There was plenty of cheese curds and they were still squeaky, the fries were definitely handcut, and the burnt ends themselves were succulent and a plate of just this would have been satisfactory.
So we just kept drinking, Blackstrap BBQ had Bierbrier, Broken, Victoria Town and Joe Beef beers. Their drink menu is written on paper bags in the restaurant which was a cute touch. Diva #1 had their Barbotine Margarita which you can have with tequila, rum or gin and comes out of a slushy machine, very tasty. They also serve a homemade cider which looked interesting. There was a tiny terrace in the front which was cute and we sat there for dinner, but to be honest, we just don’t get it. How does this place have bloggers and patrons alike talking about how delicious it is? It was okay at best but surely not something worth the trek to Verdun and surely not somewhere I would suggest returning to. It was just Meh!… sorry Diva #2, I just don’t get it.
The only logical explanation that Diva #2 can come up with, other than Diva #1’s dislike of the “godforsaken” area, is that maybe when you eat at Blackstrap makes a difference. After all, Diva #2 ordered at lunch, when they opened and Diva #1 went for supper, towards the end of the day when they usually start running out of meat. Diva #1’s comment to this is that that is not a defense at all; a restaurant should be delicious all of the time…let alone inferior at DINNER time. Other than that, Diva #2 believes she proved to her dad that she is indeed the favourite between her and her brother. And hopefully Diva #1 will still trust Diva #2’s restaurant recommendations, since she’s been right in the past before.
FYI sorry Diva #2… it will be awhile before Diva #1 goes to a place that you recommend see you on Thursday.
Diva #1 Rating: Meh!
Diva #2 Rating: Splendid
Tagged: Barbecue, BBQ, BBQ Beans, Beef, Beef Brisket, Bierbrier, Blackstrap BBQ, Braised Green Beans, Chicken, Coleslaw, Deep Fried Mac n’ Cheese, Delivery, Dylan Kier, Homemade Cider, Joe Beef Beer, Mac n' Cheese, Meh!, Memphis, Montreal, Old Hickory Pits, Pitmaster, Pork, Pork Spare Ribs, Ribs, Smokers, South, Southern, Splendid, Take Out, terrace, Turkey, Verdun, Wellington