Monday, April 28, 2014

WNY Barbecue Competition - Stop #5

Over the weekend, the Western New York Barbecue Competition returned. You'll recall our last stop was at Smoke on the Water. Although we had a good meal at Smoke on the Water, the barbecue wasn't good enough to take the title from One-Eyed Jack's Smokehouse Grill. Like Suzy-Q's Bar-B-Que Shack and Desperados Barbecue and Catering Company before it, Smoke on the Water couldn't best the smoky meats from One-Eyed Jack's.

The next stop was one I've enjoyed on many occasions over the years - Kentucky Greg's Hickory Pit.

After receiving his bachelors in business from the University of Kentucky in 1983, Greg Engelhardt began a career in the restaurant industry. By 1994, Greg was anxious to see his dream of opening a barbecue joint turn into reality. He started by converting an old motor home into a barbecue stand and selling barbecue in the back of a gas station parking lot in West Palm Beach, Florida. As his success grew, Greg and his wife Pam were ready to open a brick and mortar restaurant.

Pam, a native of Alden, New York, knew the scarcity of barbecue offerings in Western New York at the time. With a dearth of good barbecue in Western New York, the Engelhardts headed back to Depew to open their first restaurant - Kentucky Greg's Hickory Pit. More than 15 years later, the Engelhardts are still in business, selling some of the best barbecue in Western New York.

I've had Greg's barbecue several times over the years, both at the original location on George Urban Boulevard in Depew and the former location in Orchard Park. Over the weekend, we took the entire family back to the Depew location to continue the competition.

We arrived around 5:30 on a Sarurday and the restaurant was packed. We were immediately greeted by Greg who advised that it should only take 20 minutes. We had no problem with the wait and it was actually much shorter. As we waited, Greg and Pam came over to us to talk to the kids and make sure we'd be accommodated in the first table that became available. We jumped at the chance to fit into a booth with a chair at the end.

We sat down and ordered drinks for everyone. We looked at the rather large menu we'd reviewed several times before and ultimately came to our decisions. We ordered a half Bar-B-Q Chicken Platter ($9.99) for the older kids with cornbread and fries. We also ordered a kids' grilled cheese ($3.99) for the twins to split in case they found the barbecue too spicy. The entree also came with Texas Toast. My wife and I went back and forth, debating which of Greg's barbecue specialties we wanted to have. Ultimately, we decided the best way to taste as much barbecue as possible would be to split The King Combo ($22.99). Since I would be splitting my meal, I figured that freed me up to enjoyed another one of my all-time favorites from Kentucky Greg's - a cup of Brunswick Stew ($3.50 for a cup/$5.99 for a bowl).

Before we had time to engage in much conversation, my Brunswick Stew arrived:

It was just as I'd remembered it - full of smoky barbecue pork and beef. It features corn and peppers in a hearty stock. The soup, as always, was served piping hot. It was robust, smoky and had great depth of flavor. My oldest daughter was so enamored with it she decided that we had to split the entire cup - which was fine with me. A great way to start the meal!

As usual, the entrees arrived very quickly. The first plate out was the kids' chicken:

This was the biggest hit of the night.  Not only did our oldest two children love the chicken, we couldn't keep it away from the twins. They all loved it. It was moist, smoky and incredibly tasty. It had a pink smoke ring, was moist and had a good rub. It wasn't overly sauced and was a crowd pleaser. For sides, they selected the fries and cornbread, both of which were well-received. Next time, one whole chicken for all the kids!

This was our King Combo:

As you can see, the platter comes with 1/2 rack of ribs and then a choice of two other meats. We opted for the barbecue pork and barbecue chicken. For the sides, we got fries and the homemade baked beans.

The baked beans were even better than I'd remembered. They were sweet and had an ample dose of tomato. They have a nice smokiness as Greg finishes them on the pit. Over the years, we've tried all the sides. I usually opt for fries and coleslaw as I feel they're the best on the list. The fried okra, black eyed peas and collard greens are all good, but not as good as the rest. The fries are always perfectly crispy and hot. I went back to the beans this time around since I hadn't had them in a while and I was very pleased. Two great choices. And, as always, I love the Texas Toast with their charred grill marks.

The ribs were the main attraction on this platter, but once you moved them aside, you could see the 1/4 chicken and barbecue pork. Here's a closer look at those:

The pork was fantastic! It was moist and tender, but still had the right consistency. The pink smoke ring on the shoulder was visible and our portion had a good amount of barque, which, as you know, is a personal favorite of mine. The meat was moist, and while it was sauced, it didn't need that sauce for flavor - it merely enhanced the good work done by the rub and smoke.

The chicken was also very well-made and flavorful. The flavor of the rub permeated the skin through to the meat. The chicken had a great smoky flavor and a visible smoke ring. It was very tender and moist. Another great job.

The ribs were even better. They demonstrated the marks of great barbecue.  They were rubbed with a flavorful rub and had great barque. They needed no sauce as they were flavorful on their own. They still held their shape on the bone after a bite and left a perfect crescent shape. The meat melted in the mouth and was full of porky flavor and smoke. The ribs also showed a nice pink smoke ring. Here's a closer look at the ribs:

We had a wonderful meal. My wife and I remarked to each other that it was even better than we had remembered. Was it good enough to take take the title from One-Eyed Jack's?? The pork we had in Lockport was quite good, but Greg's edged it out! It had more smoky flavor and a bit more barque. The texture and  moisture were spot on. It was just fantastic.

Congratulations to Kentucky Greg's for taking the title in the Western New York Barbecue Competition!!

More to come!


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  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Jodie! It was so good - even better than before!

  2. That looks fantastic! I always love a good rack of bbq ribs with baked beans. Are the collards worth the try at all, or just not worth it? I love collards!

    1. I'd choose some of the other sides first.