“Smell That Smoke” is the tagline for Bandanas Bar-B-Q and it certainly draws you in. Once inside though you’ll realize that some good ole boy read a marketing book because these Missourians are being conned.
The first item I noted was the bio of the business on the back of the menu made a pretty boastful claim, “southern style.” Yet the owner and founder is from Jacksonville, Florida. Now when was the last time you heard anything anywhere about those Floridians knowing anything about BBQ, yet again being real southerners?
Then there’s the issue of the bandana. My grandfather used a bandana as a handkerchief, never to wear. Yet here are these people serving southern style BBQ with bandanas. That’s a western thing isn’t it? Bandanas are good for a cowboy or your Frisbee fetching canine friend but not real BBQ. Maybe we should call this “Brokeback Bar-B-Q.”
The décor of the place was on target. Lots of wood, paper towels, a smoker, cook line chopping pork, etc. It was casual, the way you would expect a BBQ joint to be. There was kind of a corporate feel however – servers in uniforms, lots of logos everywhere, table tents. Like I said they seem to have that down pretty good.
As mentioned all the slick marketing pulls you in. If you have never been to the real south for real BBQ then I can see where locals here would feel good with their decision to eat here. If you have ever been to the real south for real BBQ however you know right away this place is a rip.
I ordered the “pulled” pork today with BBQ beans and potato salad. The pork, according to the menu, is smoked 12-15 hours with a dry rub. They then pull it and chop it. I asked my server to explain that a little and he shared with me, “when they pull it, it comes off in big chunks so they have to chop it for the plate.” That’s about as useful as flying a Christmas tree on a corporate jet. If it don’t pull, try it again Sam.
The meat was dry right out of the kitchen. It had great smoke throughout however so at least their tagline is right on. But the smoke could not compensate for the lack of flavor, moisture, or texture. I wanted to speak to the manager about the cut of meat but he never came around. I think they served me a ham because the meat was very lean and other than the smoke had very little flavor.
Sauce? You don’t need no stinkin’ sauce… if it’s cooked right. This place had four different sauces on the table; two tomato based and two mustard based. “Southern style” with no vinegar based sauce?! I don’t see how you can make your claim to the south without a vinegar based sauce. That was an absolute insult to me. I can understand having multiple sauces on the table for people with many different tastes but to miss the one big “all self-respecting southerners wouldn’t be caught dead not having at a BBQ” sauce, is unforgiveable. As you may have guessed, I didn’t try any of their sauces.
The sides were from the supermarket, nothing special. The beans did have bits and pieces of BBQ pork but too small to get any real taste from. The beans tasted canned with some pork added at the store. The potato salad was ok. It was more of a mustard based salad with a good portion of onions. Two sticks of buttered white bread were served. I say sticks because it looked like a small Italian loaf cut on a bias. But it was white bread. I know what white bread dredged in butter tastes like so there was no need to stuff my face with that.
I will give these guys credit for one thing: They served the pork without sauce. They take it right from the smoke to the plate without adding sauce. That certainly is authentic. I give them two butts just for that, but that’s all they get.
Bandanas Bar-B-Q = 2 Butts