I had just closed a deal to do a promotional writing series in Syracuse and was on my way home. Moody Blues on the stereo, just flowing along with the music, right on track, happy as a little pig in – well, you get the idea.
Then the car stopped.
I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a malfunction, because my foot was on the brake, but my nose was out the window like a golden retriever’s, smelling the most appealing aromas I could imagine…
I smell lots of good smells in my travels – particularly on the motorcycle when the olfactory senses are bombarded by the wonderful (lilacs) and not so wonderful (they’re black and white…) scents. They never make me stop, but what hit my nose made my mouth water so ferociously my salivary glands actually throbbed.
Turning around in my little PT Cruiser, I motored back down Rt 281 in search of the source of this arresting aroma. And I found it – Bob’s Barbecue.
It’s little more than a shelter over a cooking pit, with some of the proudest and most skilled barbecue chefs in the world (in my humble opinion). Greeted happily, I asked my usual question – “What do you do here that is better than anywhere?”
“Chicken!” was the instant answer, “but the ribs are awesome as well!”
I almost always find people happy to serve, but these two guys (whose names, I am ashamed to admit, I didn’t get…) had such pride in their craft I had to sample both.
Being somewhat of a chicken snob and growing up learning from the master (my Dad) I knew what the Cornell Sauce tasted like and how it SHOULD look and taste. The recipe I use is transposed from the recipe Dad had for cooling 100 half chickens, so I have some idea whereof I speak. The chefs at Brook’s House of BBQ in Oneonta are the current masters – they didn’t write the book, but learned it really good… – and Old Mr Baker who originally created the sauce – well, they all would be proud of these guys.
Every batch of BBQ has a little too much of this, or too little of that… Still good, but not quite “there”. Bob’s BBQ comes really close though – maybe another ounce or two of vinegar in the sauce would bring it up to the “perfect” category, but I’ve never tasted that, even in my own creations, but I’ll keep looking.
The coup de grâce was the addition of the two ribs on top of the chicken. This happened Friday last, and today, the following Tuesday, my taste buds are still thanking me. Tangy, sloppy, well cooked enough to fall off the bone, the two ribs were the perfect complement to the chicken breast.
The sides, cole slaw and potato salad were good complements to the meat. The slaw was ordinary – good, but ordinary. The potato Salad was excellent but again, could have used about another tablespoon of vinegar. Ok, I like vinegar.
I really like vinegar.
To top it off, peach Snapple. I challenge you, buy a bottle of Peach Snapple and, pay attention now, take just a sip. Your salivary glands are near the back of your neck, and I’ll bet you can feel them spazz when that first sip hits your pallet.
Yeah. Now you know. This is the sensation everything at Bob’s Barbecue does to you. It’s that good.
So I finally have my order on a tray, and ask “Where do I sit?”
“Around the other side. There’s plenty of seating.”
Wandering around the shelter I find myself in a grove of trees, in a well-groomed area with many picnic tables, a playground and another parking area for, I assume, folks who bring their kids to play. There is enough shade to protect you, enough sun to enjoy, and enough food to walk away completely satisfied.
There’s even a sink and soap to wash your face and hands after your delightfully messy meal right within reach. Within Reach…. I think there’s a column by that name….
Located on Rt 281 between I81 exits 12 and 13, Bob’s Barbeque is really worth the trip. Maybe 20 minutes from Lansing, they will give you the most excellent meal at a price that won’t bust the budget. I spent $17, and that was with a generous tip that they, for what it’s worth, didn’t ask for or require.
They do cater events and (having an event coming up) I’m seriously considering contracting them. They are that good, and I am that cheap. The concept of awesome and inexpensive is irresistible. After being in business for 25 years, it’s pretty obvious that they know what they’re doing.
But before you decide, take the short drive and prove it to yourselves that Bob’s barbecue is everything I say it is..
They are open from 11am to 8pm from April to mid October, and have been working at creating delightful meals for the last 25 years. I think they actually might know what they’re doing.
For more information, call 607-753-7098 or visit their web site www.bobsbarbecue.com. Funny. I always thought there was a “Q” in “barbecue”. Even I can learn something now & then…
No matter, it’s within reach and well worth the trip!