restaurant review – Almost Famous

Today the Buffet o’ Blog staff tried a fairly new restaurant here in Conway, AR, called Almost Famous.  They specialize in smoked meats.  Need I say more?

I tried the pulled pork sandwich, which was good.  It was served on buttered Texas toast, with plenty of meat (on the regular size).  Their fries were of the steak-cut variety and were good.  The sweet tea was also good.  So I recommend it.  Sorry I didn’t get a picture… I was hungry.

They also have 1/2-pound hickory-smoked burgers and ribs and various other smoked meats.  I’d like to try it again sometime.  You can buy smoked meat by the pound, which I might have to look into (until I get a smoker).  You can even buy smoked bacon, which sounds promising.  They’re thinking about adding steaks and pork chops to their menu soon.

It’s located on Oak Street, going toward Vilonia, past the new fairgrounds, and it’s on the right.  They also have an area for outdoor dining, for other months.  Everyone that worked there was extra-friendly.  Their normal hours are 11-7.  It wasn’t crowded when we went.

FYI, I’m not affiliated with them, but I appreciate what they’re doing and want to spread the word since it’s out of the way and many people probably haven’t heard of it.

ultimate destroyer BBQ sandwich

I really enjoy watching Man v. Food on the Travel Channel.  Adam Richman is great as a host, and he can eat a mountain of food, but the food itself is even more impressive.  One episode I saw was about Kansas City, and I wish I had seen this before I went to KC a while back!

The challenge in this episode was a BBQ sandwich called Papa Bob’s Ultimate Destroyer.  It was huge, but also a little unusual.  It’s built on a 12″ hoagie bun, and the bottom layer of meat is a half pound of pulled pork, then a half pound of hickory smoked sliced pork.  All that is covered in BBQ sauce, then another layer of bread is added.  Next is a half pound of hickory-smoked ham and a half pound of hickory smoked turkey breast.  Then more sauce and more bread.  But wait, there’s more!  Next is 3 half pound hickory smoked hamburgers*, topped with sauce and more bread.  In case that’s not enough, there’s a half pound of brisket and a half pound of BBQ sausage, with, you guessed it, more sauce and the top of the hoagie bun.

It would be difficult to eat just the sandwich, with all that meat and bread.  But the challenge also includes 1 1/2 pounds of fries.  I would welcome some fries, because they go well with BBQ’d meat, but that’s a lot of starch in an eating challenge.  It’s probably part of the reason why no one has ever defeated the Ultimate Destroyer.  All together, the plate of food weighs 6 pounds.  If you don’t eat it, it costs $48.

I glanced at the release form, and it explains the sandwich and has the usual legal fine print.  I like how the small print starts out: “I AM FULLY AWARE THAT I AM ABOUT TO ATTEMPT TO EAT AN UNHEALTHY AND POSSIBLY DANGEROUS AMOUNT OF BAR-B-QUED MEAT AND SIDE DISHES.”  Dangerous indeed…

There are some other funny tidbits in the rules:
– No bathroom breaks; just sit there and eat & eat & eat & eat.
– Must keep all food down at least 5 (five) minutes after your last bite. If you launch it, you gotta clean it!! (floors, tables, chairs, parking lot, employees, customers, etc.)
– A Papa Bob’s Up-Chuck bucket will be provided at your table (just in case).
– Papa Bob’s is not responsible for anything mentally or physically that arises from eating the “Ultimate Destroyer”.

I think I’ll pass on that one.  Maybe if they have a smaller version…

* I’ve never heard of a smoked hamburger, but it sounds intriguing.  When Adam got to that part, he said it was tasty but a little dry, so he had to add sauce.  I’m thinking some cheese and Miracle Whip would help with it.  And of course, you might as well add bacon.  🙂  I’ve gotta get me a smoker someday…

pickles do not go with BBQ!

The other day I was at a BBQ place in Pine Bluff, trying it for the first time.  It was one of those great and turrible* experiences all wrapped into one.  I ordered a BBQ sandwich, but they put pickles on it!  Nowhere on the menu did it say pickles were included on it, nor did the waitress mention it.  I’ve ranted (numerous times) about having no tolerance of pickles, so I won’t rant on that again.  But they should tell you about such things!  They should warn you before exposing you to pickles!  I don’t know if they were trying to ruin my day or just completely ignorant of how much some people detest pickles.

Fortunately, the pickles had yet to soil the meat or bread with their evilness, so they were discarded with no harm done.  That’s a good thing, or the whole plate would’ve been returned.  (I’m not normally one to make a fuss at restaurants, but I have to draw the line at pickles.)  At least the food was great, so that was the bright spot on the trip.

There was another bad spot, though — the waitress never came back.  I finally had to ask for a refill of sweet tea, and they never brought a ticket.  Paying took a long time because they had to match people’s orders with a pile of tickets containing only codes.  I hope that type of service isn’t the norm.

Anyway, just thought I’d rant.  It’s my soapbox, and I can rant if I want to.  🙂  If you’re expecting a moral of the story, it’s that pickles should not be served at restaurants.  If I owned a restaurant…

* turrible is the worse form of terrible, and try to say it like Charles Barkley does, for full effect.

Buffet o’ Bacon 3

Last night I had the Buffet o’ Blog staff over for a regular team outing (where we played video games and discussed funny stuff — how meetings should go!).  As has happened before, this meeting turned into a Buffet o’ Bacon.  It was kinda like an Iron Chef episode, where 3 contestants brought an original dish based around bacon.  (At these impromptu cooking sessions, the theme is always bacon.  Not that I’m complaining!)

First on the menu was bacon-wrapped smokies covered with barbecue sauce and grilled, and served on a stick.

smokies, bacon, & BBQ, on a stick

That one used turkey bacon, which works better for grilling and is a lot healthier.  The taste was really good.  You just have to make sure the bacon is cooked to the point of getting slightly crispy, or it’ll be easier to notice it’s turkey bacon.

The second item we sampled was bacon-wrapped cream-cheese-filled jalapenos.   We removed the seeds so they wouldn’t be too spicy (for some).  These were also delicious, although I’d like to experiment with different types of cheese.  Cooking them on a rack is essential (as I will explain in further detail on the next item).  They were also served on a stick (well, a toothpick).

bacon-wrapped cheese-filled jalapenos

Third on our list was the most ambitious creation, and the one that slightly concerned me.  It consisted of club crackers topped with shredded cheese, then bacon-wrapped and cooked for two hours at 250 degrees.  Here’s a picture of them during preparation.

bacon-wrapped club crackers, with cheese, in preparation

Notice there was no rack used to elevate the food above the inevitable bacon grease.  Supposedly it wasn’t necessary according to the recipe, that the crackers wouldn’t absorb all the grease.  I was concerned because we’ve been down this road before.  /* flashback */ At the initial Buffet o’ Bacon, there were some bacon-wrapped croissants, and the bread absorbed almost all the bacon grease during cooking.  The consistency of the croissants was like butter at room temperature, and it was deemed the “gut-bomb”.  (Read the second comment on our initial Buffet o’ Bacon for an explanation.)  /* end flashback */ So how did it turn out?  Let’s have a look:

bacon-wrapped club crackers, with cheese

What’s missing from this picture is the grease that was drained before I got in there with the camera.  Supposedly there was a pool of grease.  And if it isn’t evident in the picture, the crackers were saturated with grease, along with the cheese, and the bacon was quite greasy also.  Someone looked at the recipe to see where they went wrong, and they noticed the last line of the recipe said to cook it on a rack over a pan.  Obviously that line was never read, and the excuse was used that the picture included with the recipe didn’t have a rack in it.

We each tried a couple of them, and you could tell there was a lot of potential there, if not for the extreme load of grease.  The rest were discarded, for the sake of healthiness.   Hopefully a lesson was learned from this, because it’s really sad to throw away bacon and cheese.  (Should we have a moment of silence?)

If you want to read about our previous bacon research sessions, the link to part one is above, and here’s part two.  There are other food-related experiments and discussions — too many to list — but you can search for them if you want.

For those of you who live nearby and would like to participate in one of these in the future, there has been talk of hosting one on a Saturday afternoon and making a party out of it.  Stay tuned to this blog for further details.