Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fired Up for BBQ

This past weekend, I had a relaxing vacation in the Ozarks.  I went with my family and my in-laws to work on their condo and enjoy some of the great food in the Ozarks.  When I was in High School, 3 of my friends and I went on a road trip, each summer for 3 years, down to the Ozarks where we spent a few days relaxing and taking in the sights.  I do not remember that much, in ways of good food.  It is amazing how so much can change in 15 years!  (Yeah, I admit, that is a long time, but I didn't even recognize the place.)

Fired up is a BBQ joint which also has a bar section, an arcade and a dance floor.  While it may seem like any other BBQ destination, the wonderful views out of the large windows near your dining table, fool you into thinking that you are on some mountain paradise.  While the view may sound like a gimmick, to draw you in, the food is anything but fake and you should come in for it directly. Using locally grown ingredients and even potatoes grown in their own garden, Fired Up is a new place which has grabbed the "sustainable" feel for using local and farm to table ideals, whether they tried to or not.

The restaurant is simple, clean, quiet, and has no obnoxious music playing on loud speakers.  Of course with anything, the food is the real reason why I was there.  Fired Up makes their own sauces.  They had an "Original Sauce" which was like your basic St. Louis style sauce with a bit more of a mustard flavor, a "Bourbon Sauce" which had that tang and sweetness of Bourbon, a "Hot & Spicy" which was almost too hot for me to handle and finally a "Citrus Chipolte" which gave both a smokey chili flavor and a lemon citrus flavor.  I know that some of the infamous BBQ restaurants in St. Louis have their own sauce, but none of them have created four of their own.

So, I thought that if I was looking for a taste of everything, I would choose a 3 meat selection.  My plate, came with BBQ pulled pork, which melted in my mouth, some smokey turkey breast, which reminded me of a mix of Thanksgiving and a BBQ pit and finally I had a few thick slices of beef brisket.  As I just said, I took a bite of the turkey first and it was juicy and tender and smokey.  The beef was cut thick, but was so tender that it fell apart in my mouth.  And the pulled pork, literally melted in mouth.  It was so juicy and so flavorful that my 4 and 5 year old children were gobbling it up.  This plate is an easy 4 out of 5 for me.

We ordered a plate of the "Pulled Pork Sliders" off of the appetizer menu, and we expected two sliders.  What we had delivered to us was a plate of 6 (six) sliders on some sweet buns.  The same pulled pork, the exact same super juicy and tender pork which I had, was on these sliders.  My kids, my 4 and 5 year old boys, loved these sliders.  A good way of checking to see if the meat is tender or not, is to give it to a child and my 5 year old had 1 and 1/2 of these sliders.  This was also a 4 and 1/2 out of 5 for me.

Couple this with the large basket of a whole rack of ribs, which were so tender and juicy that it was impossible not to love them, you would start to get a full stomach.  When my father-in-law, reached for a rib to taste it, he pulled the bone up as the meat fell off.  It wasn't a bad thing, but a great thing.  The meat was juicy, flavorful, smokey and of course tender.  The ribs were about as tender as the super tender pulled pork. I'd give the ribs about a 4 and 1/2 out of 5 for the pure fact that they were so good that if I wouldn't feel bad about it, I would have tried to wrestle my father-in-law for portion of the ribs.

While some places in St. Louis get you on the good food, Fired Up also gets you on the great taste of their sides. We tried the "baby bakers" and they were tiny home grown potatoes, baked to perfection (not too mushy and not too hard), sprinkled with kosher salt and sitting in a cup of melted butter.  The image of melted butter in the bottom of the cup is a winner.  The potato salad is a red potato salad with a creamy sauce and a dill seasoning; tasty. The cole slaw is a great and simple creamy slaw.  Not too much pepper and not too rich and even a tad sweet.  The baked beans were very sweet, almost a dessert, with the taste of brown sugar and big chunks of that famous pulled pork in it.  This was a great cup of beans.  The big thing at Fired Up, which we all noticed, was the cornbread.  The cornbread was a sweet, moist and delicious cake.  It was very tasty that people at my table with me whom normally do not eat cornbread, were eating it.  I wish they sold the cornbread in hotel sheet pan sizes. Also, as a fan of cornbread, let me further explain that this isn't like other BBQ places and their cornbread.  With other places, every bite of cornbread has to be accompanied by a drink or a sip of a drink, because theirs are too dry.  Fire Up, has very moist cornbread in which no drink is necessary.  The sides were good enough that I'd give them all a 4 out of 5.

I want to stress and point out a couple of things:  First of all, if you like any of their sauces, they will sell a portion size to you.  What they sold to us was a large 32oz cup, for about $4!  That is a huge amount of BBQ sauce for a little price.  Secondly, I don't want you to look at my ratings and think "he only gave them a 4 out of 5!  Let's go somewhere else!"  The fact is, if you don't know it, I don't give a dish or anything a 5 out of 5, unless it blows me away in some new cooking method or something I've never seen or tasted before.  This doesn't mean that the food isn't good, in fact it means that the food was near perfect and I highly recommend it.  Thirdly, the only reason I stopped by on this time was because my in-laws had already been there and had a great time.  This means that on two separate occasions, the food and service was fantastic.          

Are there other BBQ places in the Ozarks?  Definitely.  But, I seriously doubt or even dare them to be as good as Fired Up.  Frankly, I would dare say that Fired Up has better BBQ than some of the famous St. Louis locations like Phil's or even Pappy's.  If you go to the Ozarks and don't go for BBQ at Fired Up, un-friend me on Facebook.  I can't be friends with anyone who doesn't appreciate good taste. 

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