The annual BBQ tour took a bit of a twist into a Bang Bang BBQ Tour. In years past I’ve done regions of the country and have done a specific meat at each place. Twisting things up, I’m doing a city specific place and judging “best of show”. Taking into account the ambiance of the restaurant, the appearance of the food when it gets delivered, and the overall taste profile which will be a combination of smoke, tenderness, and overall flavors. The destination this year is the greater St. Louis, MO area.
Our lunch destination took us to central Illinois and this wood cabin looking place, Witt’s Smokehouse. Tucked about 2 miles off of the interstate in Effingham, IL, Witt’s Smokehouse has a great look of it going with the log cabin atmosphere. The interior of the restaurant has some galvanized metal look along with the rustic of a log cabin so it’s pretty cool.
For my lunch I ordered the pulled pork sandwich with a side of mac n cheese. The food comes out in a plastic basket on some wax paper so pretty standard for a BBQ joint. The pulled pork sandwich has a good amount of meat on it. The meat is sauced which is a little bit of a turnoff for me but not a deal breaker typically. The basket does look a little “empty” when you get it. The pickle is a nice garnish and provides a color contrast to the basket. The sandwich bun was on top of the meat so it was a tannish bun color and the yellow of mac n cheese when you first look at the plate looks bland at first glance.
The food itself was pretty good. The pulled pork sandwich had a really balanced flavor. I did have to add some sauce but mostly to try the array of sauces Witt’s has available. Side plug for the garlic BBQ sauce…very tasty and a noticeable garlic flavor…almost too much but I enjoy that flavor with BBQ. Very good move on the cooks to toast the buns as sauced pulled pork can tend to soak into a sandwich bun and make the bun really soggy but the toasting of the bun put a nice crust so it held up really well. The mac n cheese was probably one of the creamiest I’ve ever had. Noodles were cooked really well. My friends that joined me on this trip got sides of baked beans and they were OK. A little too sweet for my taste.
Negatives wise, I’m not a big fan of sauced pulled pork as it can be used to mask stuff. I was a little disappointed in the lack of smokiness in the pulled pork. With it being sauced it made it very difficult to see any smoke ring and it was difficult to taste any smoke in the pulled pork. Some garnish like green onion or bacon bits to the mac n cheese would’ve been a nice eye appeal and provide some additional pop to the plate.
Overall, Witt’s Smokehouse set the bar for the 2018 Bang Bang BBQ Tour. Good flavors and some culinary skills were on display. May try to request the pulled pork not be sauced but I think that’s how they cook it. The brisket that one of my friends ordered looked really good and near burnt end style.