On Saturday I got to try Backroom BBQ. It’s at the old Lucille’s space in Knoxville’s Old City, and is part of the Patrick O’Sullivan’s enterprise. I had the Pit Sampler, with a quarter rack of pork ribs, beef brisket, chicken, and pulled pork for the very fair price of $13.95 with two sides. I couldn’t eat it all and wound up bringing the ribs home.
The beef brisket was very tasty. The chicken was boring, as BBQ chicken tends to be unless it’s spicy. The pulled pork was very nicely smoked, and I enjoyed the ribs for my Sunday brunch.
Sauces on the table are Memphis-style sweet and tangy BBQ and Carolina-style BBQ which is less tomato and more vinegar and therefore hotter (and thinner). Knoxville is about halfway between the two styles geographically, so it’s nice they offer both. Both sauces were good. I liked their Carolina sauce better.
Jay had the pulled pork sandwich and was very happy with the size of the meal for the modest price. About six bucks as I recall.
The sides were a weak point. The hushpuppies were overdone, the coleslaw was on the bland side, and the flat-sliced potatoes were completely overcooked. Corn on the cob – one of my favorites – is only available deep-fried, which is an abomination of nature. Granted I didn’t taste it, but based on past experience with fried corn they could have thrown the ears on the smoker and gotten corn that was both tastier and healthier.
The place was not what anyone would call clean or snazzy. I expect authentic BBQ joints to be a little grungy, but Lucille’s was a classy enough jazz dive and Sullivan’s is a nice enough place, so it seems like Backroom BBQ’s grunginess is a combination of overeager pseudo-authenticity and a general lack of cleanliness. I may have been a little sensitive because I had the kids with me, so judge for yourself. If you can deal with the hygiene standards at the usual run of BBQ joints you probably won’t mind, and Backroom’s ‘cue is good and the price is right.