Slabtown Ribs and Barbeque

by KimHo on August 26, 2010 · 8 comments under: Food,Restaurant,Travel

Slabtown Ribs and Barbeque
2606 NW Vaughn Street
Portland, OR
Slabtown Ribs and Barbeque on Urbanspoon

Let me ask you this: whenever you see smoke coming out from a restaurant (hopefully, from the exhaust), what comes to your mind? Good food, doesn’t it? So how about when it comes from a smoker? Or how about it coming from a smoker on the street at 7:00 a.m.??? Yup, that’s what happened when I passed by Slabtown Ribs and Barbeque during my stay in Portland. Every morning I passed by, I could see that smoker parked in front of the restaurant (which, otherwise, I would have passed by without noticing!) and wondered myself: “wow, that’s starting early!” And, of course, given you see actual smoke rather than the pressure cook/boil the meat, grill it, toss it with sauce and serve it (like, say, Montana’s Cookhouse), that was incentive enough to try to have some (real) BBQ goodness…

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Unlike most of my other meals on this trip, I was fortunate (?) enough to be able to come here for lunch. Hey, you know, one more post for this trip! But, as experience tells me, the lunch menu at times can be slightly skewed toward easily made dishes compared to dinner ones (i.e., lunch rush crowd). However, as I say, if you can’t handle it, should you be open (in this case, for lunch)? Anyway, the dishes offered was quite simple but, then again, BBQ, by then it is just a matter of chopping and plating.

As for the food, the special that day was beef ribs but, when you are fully suited, ribs might be somewhat dangerous. As a result, I ended up ordering other dishes, namely…

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OK, first the side dishes, starting off with baked beans. It had a smoke-y taste and a slightly chalky texture. Depending on how you like yours, it might be a detraction or you might like it. One note is that it wasn’t sweet so, if you were expecting yours that way, it might not be for you.

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Mac-n-cheese. Actually this was quite interesting. It was creamy (though not extremely cheese-y) and the noodles could almost be “slurped”. The “bad” was that there wasn’t any other tones. Cheese and noodles and that was about it. One thing that might swing both ways is that the cheese startled to curdle a little bit. Depending on the person, he/she might like it or not.

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OK, finally to the meats. I chose to go for their Texas plate, which has hot links and brisket. Here the sausages with the side sauce. In this case the Kansas City Classic. Yeah, I know I partially shot myself here. After all, it is supposed to be Texas BBQ, why should I try a Kansas type sauce? Oh, well… But back to the sausage, I wasn’t impressed at all. It wasn’t bad (for instance, it had some “snap”) just that there wasn’t anything that made it outstanding. In fact, it felt… Average?

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Finally, the brisket. Again, when sauce was given as an option, I was hoping for it to be on a side, not necessarily smothered. Oh, well. As for the meat itself… No, it didn’t work for me. It was tender, fine; but I couldn’t taste any smokiness in the meat. In fact I was wondering if there was a mistake but when I didn’t see a pronounced smoke ring, I basically just considered it as braised-like brisket instead.

Overall, I can’t say I was enjoyed it. Granted, it filled my stomach just that, after seeing the smoke while walking to the work created that sense of anticipation. Alas, it didn’t deliver…

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Celiac Husband August 26, 2010 at 5:43 am

BBQ. Unless anywhere near the Southern States, it will always be hit or miss.
My favorite spot on the west side of the US is actually a small chain called Lucille’s.

2 KimHo August 26, 2010 at 6:25 am

Peter, I will give Lucille’s a try if I am ever sent to such a place! I do agree with your general assessment but, similar to a lot of cuisines, you deal with what you have and hope to get interesting meals while travelling. ;)

3 Pearl Lee August 26, 2010 at 11:47 am

sorry to hear that something good like BBQ wasn’t very good there!

what’s your favorite place ever? you should visit and take photos!

4 Chris August 26, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Is that bright red layer near the exterior not it’s smoke ring? Because from the pictures, it looks like a pretty thick line of smoke, and as you mentioned them smoking outside during the morning, I figured this longer cooking time would explain the dark red ring….

5 KimHo August 26, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Pearl, well, that’s what I have been doing! ;)

Chris, yes and no. It looks like a smoke ring but it was barely noticeable as such. Wait until tomorrow’s post to see the difference!

6 Chris August 31, 2010 at 6:15 am

The smoke ring is very obvious in the photo of the brisket
The place does not advertise itself as, or try to be “Texas BBQ” – whatever that is
The sausage is a german sausage, not hot links – as it says on their menu
If you want / expect your sauce on the side, why not ask first so as not to be disappointed later?
Sounds like you went in with certain expectations or assumptions (sauce on side, sausage being spicy etc). I eat here a lot and it is by far one of the best BBQ places in Portland…trust me!

7 KimHo August 31, 2010 at 7:43 am

Chris, welcome and thanks for your comments. You are correct about expectations: I did have some and was somewhat askewed by it. But, still, in the end, I can’t necessarily say I liked for what it was. Sorry. Oh, about the sauce, I noticed that for another table, it was served on the side (though wasn’t able to check what was the order).

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