Monday, January 20, 2014

WNY Barbecue Competition - Stop #3

I took a few weeks off from the Western New York Barbecue Competition for the holidays and to begin another epic battle here on the Nittany Epicurean - the Wing Battle. In the Wing Battle, I had an initial stop at Duff's Famous Wings in Orchard Park and a subsequent, more notable stop at the Nine-Eleven Tavern, which easily took the title to the battle.

As I assured a few of my readers during this period of time, I did not stop the Western New York Barbecue Competition, nor did I forget about it. I just got busy with work, family, holidays, wings....OK...enough excuses.

You'll recall that our first stop in the barbecue competition was in the Riverside neighborhood of Buffalo at Suzy-Q's Bar-B-Que Shack. We had a great meal there and a great time. When we last left the competition, One-Eyed Jack's in Lockport took the competition by storm. They featured a great pulled pork, brisket and a killer smoked corned beef. One-Eyed Jack's is currently in the lead in the competition. 

This past weekend, we made the next stop in the competition in Angola, New York - Desperados Barbecue and Catering Company. Desperados is in the heart of the Village of Angola. In a well-renovated building, Desperados offers slow smoked barbecue and craft beer in a "down home family atmosphere." Here are a few shots of the interior of the restaurant:

I took the entire family to Desperados for lunch over the weekend. Although I'd been there a few times in the past, I forgot one important thing that I was reminded about upon entry - they only take cash and personal checks. While we had brought enough cash for our entire family of six to enjoy lunch, we did not have enough for me to enjoy their selection of craft beer on tap. Unfortunately, I won't be able to report on that. However, I would I love to return to try them out. My fault though because I usually check that before going to restaurants. 

We were promptly seated and tended to by the server. She was very helpful and did a good job accommodating our kids. We were the only table in the restaurant as we arrived early on a snowy afternoon. We looked at the large menu that included soups, salads, appetizers, sandwiches and entrees. There were barbecue classics such as pulled pork, pulled chicken, St. Louis-style ribs and Texas brisket. Several other items like hot links and smoked quarter chicken were only available after 4:30 p.m. so we were unable to try them. No worries as the pork I needed to try was available all day. There wasn't a children's menu, but we were easily able to find things on the menu to satisfy all four of our children.

The pulled pork is only served in a sandwich option, so we ordered one of those. I had to try the Texas brisket as well, so we ordered a sandwich that featured it. My wife and I split the sandwiches. She ordered corn bread as her side and I went with a favorite I'd had on previous occasions - corn pudding. We ordered a pulled chicken sandwich for our older children to split. Our oldest daughter selected "State Fair Salt Potatoes" as her side and our son chose the homemade mac & cheese. We ordered another side of the mac & cheese for our twin daughters to split.

While we were waiting for our food to arrive, our server brought out three homemade barbecue sauces:

From left to right, Desperados makes and offers a Hickory Smoked BBQ Sauce, a Sweet & Tangy BBQ Sauce and a Hot & Spicy Sauce. As you know, I love a barbecue joint that makes its own sauces. Each of these three were delicious. There was a great smoky flavor in the first. My wife and son enjoyed the sweetness of the second. The third offered a nice spicy kick balanced with sweet. You can't lose with any of them.

Here's a look at the brisket sandwich and the corn pudding:

This is a closer look at the brisket on the sandwich:

The brisket was juicy, tender and flavorful. There was an ample amount of it on the large sandwich I'd ordered. My only complaint is that I wish it had more smoke to it. I couldn't see a pink smoke ring and didn't get much smoky flavor on it. That's my personal taste, though - I dig a lot of smoke. The addition of the Hickory Smoked BBQ Sauce remedied the situation well, though. With the sauce, it was a great sandwich! 

The corn pudding was delicious! It's like an extra moist, dense cornbread with corn kernels studded throughout. Can I get that recipe, Shelly??

Here's a look at the pulled pork sandwich and side of cornbread:

The pork was tender and moist. There was a decent amount of smoke and some bark. I could always use more bark, but it was there. One of the sauces had been mixed in and it was quite flavorful. My wife enjoyed the cornbread as well.

This is the pulled chicken sandwich my oldest children split:

The chicken was delicious. The rub on the chicken was very flavorful and the kids enjoyed their sandwich. It was great with or without any sauce. My daughter loved the potatoes. They were cooked well, flavorful and small enough for her to dip them ketchup which made her very happy.

This one was a big hit with the kids:

The homemade mac & cheese. Our twins cleaned their plates and wanted more. My son loved it. In fact, he loved all the sides we had. He really enjoyed the corn pudding. He took a bite, looked at me with a very serious face and said, "Dad...this is really good." The mac & cheese was very cheesy, creamy and savory. The cheese sauce was very good and I would consider this as a side for me next time around.

All in all, we had a good meal and a good time at Desperados. I wish I had brought enough cash to have a beer with my barbecue, but that's on me. Next time, I'll remember.

Now, down to the competition. This competition is becoming difficult. We had such good meals at both One-Eyed Jack's and Desperados. It's going to come down to small, nitpicked details. While I liked the pork at Desperados, it was lacking in bark and smoke for my taste. The brisket was also lacking the smoke, although very flavorful. But, using my litmus test of the pork alone, I have to give the slight edge to One-Eyed Jack's. Congrats on retaining the lead in the competition.

Desperados is a great local barbecue joint that you should check out. The great food and welcoming atmosphere warrants the drive to Angola in any weather. Stop by and check them out. Tell Shelly I sent you!

Stay tuned for the next stop in the Western New York Barbecue Competition coming soon!


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