Saturday, September 15, 2007

Alabama BBQ Co.


Alabama BBQ Company
4311 Harford Road
Lauraville, Baltimore
410-254-1440
alabamabbqcompany.com
barbecue
Cost: $$
Reservations: Not Needed
Date of meal: Friday, September 14, 2007
National Price-Quality Frontier: Inside It
Baltimore Price-Quality Frontier: Inside It


Alabama BBQ Company is a barbecue joint designed for take-out. There are a couple of tables and a little counter. The environment is actually quite pleasant, with bright colors and tasteful furniture; there are a few free weekly magazines to read. While it is certainly possible to eat here if you want to, the tables mostly serve as a place to wait for your meal.

I ordered the rib dinner ($13 for 6 ribs plus two sides and barbecue sauce) and onion strings ($3). (To my eye, this is on the expensive side for a take-out rib joint, so I was expecting stellar ribs.) The very nice and well-intentioned woman at the counter told me that my order would take a minute as the onion strings had to be fried; the ribs were ready. They then forgot about the onion strings, did a few other things, and assembled my ribs a few minutes later. They then told me my meal (excluding onion strings) was ready. Starting the onion strings late wasn't a big deal, but it did take a bit of extra time. I mention it mostly because there seemed to be a mix-up on another customer's order while I was waiting, yet another customer's bill told to pay the wrong amount (clearly an innocent mix-up), and also because I read a comment on another website which mentioned this problem also. I don't think it is an anomaly.

I chose the mild sauce for the onion strings and the raspberry glaze for the ribs. The former was solid but the latter was particularly good. Unfortunately, neither the ribs nor the onion strings lived up to their sauces. The ribs were fine and completely edible, but they were also dry (dry-rubbed also, but I mean not juicy or moist) and didn't fall off the bone. The onion strings hadn't been mixed up properly prior to frying and therefore much of the batter hadn't cooked. The onion strings that had been cooked properly were fine but nothing special, but half of them were inedible, uncooked batter.

To sum up,

  • I liked: the decor (for a take-out joint), the sauces, and the friendliness of the service.
  • I was so-so on: the ribs
  • I didn't like: the onion strings, order-taking and payment, the cost
Alabama BBQ Company is too expensive for how good it is. Definitely not on the National or Baltimore price-quality frontier. (There is another BBQ joint up the street that I haven't been to yet, so Alabama BBQ may not even be the best option for take-out ribs in Lauraville. I'll let you know once I've tried them both.) While on the opposite side of town, Rub provides better ribs and better service at only a slightly higher price in an environment where you can more comfortably sit if you want to.

Update (9/19): Having been to both Alabama and Big Bad Wolf one mile up Harford, Big Bad Wolf provides an equally good product with more efficient service at substantially lower prices.

3 comments:

Duke said...

Thanks for the review. I enjoy slow smoking my own ribs and have even placed in some competitions (4th and 6th places). I especially enjoyed your economics treatment of your review. I am an econ major at Towson University and it was cool to see econ theory applied to your assessment these food establishments.

Anonymous said...

Any Nelson's BBQ in Cockeysville is far better than both in terms of quality and in terms of price. Alabama BBQ was very hit or miss. On the days the pit master was working, it was superb. On the days that his business partner was running the show, it was terrible. Based on the review, I think I know which day you were there. I've been to BigBadWolf four times and it was awful each and every time. The sides were good, but I don't go to a place for the sides.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Andy Nelson's is very good, but I would have to disagree about the Big Bad Wolf being awful.
I have a lot of family in the south, Alabama, Arkansas, Southeastern-Missouri and we are often treated to some of the best barbecue in each area. (The Hornets Nest in Holcomb, MO is my all time favorite).
I have eaten from the Big Bad Wolf at least 15-20 times and would put them up against any BBQ joint around. The "best" really comes down to personal preference. I can't imagine that someone would repeatedly go back to a place four times if it is awful every time?
I have never had a bad experience from the Big Bad Wolf. The namesake sandwich is especially delicious.

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