The Food and Wine Hedonist

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Slows BBQ in Detroit

This has become THE culinary destination and Detroit’s poster child for renewal.  There’s so much being said about how its owners have shown faith in the city and has started a wave of improvement in the immediate area and that praise is rightfully earned.  After hearing about the place for the last six years, it was finally time to eat there.

We were there relatively early (6pm) on Friday night and were still looking at an hour wait.  Luckily the Pieholes were in pretty good spirits and the bar had a terrific selection of local beers.  I opted for a big bottle of Collababiere – a spicy holiday sour ale that was a collaboration between Jolly Pumpkin (MI), Stone (CA), and Nogne O (Norway) which made the time fly nice and quick.

As for the food, I have mixed feelings.

Main Courses

These were executed very well -

Baby Back Ribs - Well seasoned, delicious smoke, very tender.

Carolina Style Pulled Pork - slow-cooked to perfection.

Alaskan Sockeye Salmon - Fresh, flaky.

What came with them…

With the exception of the completely decadent macaroni and cheese, all of the accompaniments were not good at all.   While waiting at the bar, we ordered the split pea and okra fritters which were big fried balls of veggies and dough that tasted like… nothing.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was almost completely flavorless.   We also started with a bowl of gumbo which was serviceable, but not as good as mine.   In addition to the mac and cheese, we had side orders of black eyed peas and baked beans which were just as flavorful as the fritters, but only with a disgustingly mushy consistency.    On the other side of the spectrum, the waffle fries were nice and crisp but didn’t taste any  better than what you can find in a mall food court.  The worst offender of all was the cornbread, which was too dry and crumbly to be edible.

The saving grace was the dessert which was a chocolate and Oreo brownie with coffee ice cream and hot fudge.  It was pretty damn good on its own, but what sent it through the stratosphere was the name of it – The Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris usually only eats Habanero peppers for dessert.

The Verdict

I suppose that a BBQ joint should only be judged by the quality of their meats.   In this case they were clear hits.  But to miss so often and so badly with the starters and sides is really inexcusable.   In Motown musical vernacular, this would be the same as having a couple tone-deaf Supremes backing up Diana Ross.

I wonder if people are giving them too much credit because of what Slow’s means to the city in terms of hopes for a turnaround.  These guys could’ve opened anywhere else, but they chose to make a go of it in the heart of urban blight.  There’s no arguing how commendable that is.  But the cynic in me thinks that the lure of incredibly cheap rent made opening it and turning a profit a lot easier. And I wonder if a big portion of the appeal is that it’s sooo different from it’s surroundings.   It’s like when an average-looking person surrounded by heinously ugly people starts to look a heckuva lot better.  In this case, you have an above average restaurant across the street from this -

Michigan Central - or at least the shell of the great train station.

And down the street from a whole lot of these -

Of course it’s going to stick out as a gem.

I honestly don’t know what to think Slows.  Have you been there?  Can you honestly say it’s one of the top BBQ places in Michigan on the merits of its food alone?

Slows Bar BQ on Urbanspoon

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About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

6 comments on “Slows BBQ in Detroit

  1. The Dutchman
    May 2, 2012

    As a proteinophile, I’m a big fan of Slows. Sides are of little concern to me when going for BBQ.

    I also really like the sauces – among the finest I have experienced in my northern BBQ dining. I think we have to segregate northern BBQ from southern/Texan/Kansas Citian BBQ since that is on another plane.

    We have also been there during nice weather days, and the outdoor seating area – which features interesting wood elements – is an oasis in the city.

    • Balls…. forgot to mention the sauces. Yes, agreed that they were very good in terms of flavor and variety. I don’t know, you still gotta be able to do more than mains. If Popeyes can do biscuits, mashed potatoes and other things really well so can these guys.

      The outdoor seating did look it would be nice. The irony is that the backfiring car you hear stand a good chance of being actual gunfire…

  2. a2sicilian
    May 2, 2012

    Ate there once about three years ago. I agree the BBQ meat was good. I don’t remember anything beyond that. And there you go.

  3. Tammy Coxen
    May 2, 2012

    I agree with your general assessment. Meats and sauces good, sides so-so. I’ve heard they do an amazing Tempeh sandwich, strangely enough. But I mostly popped in to say that if you’re ever there with an hour wait again, you should walk a couple doors down and grab a cocktail at Sugar House. Just made it there last weekend, and it’s great!

    • thanks for stopping in! Never heard of the place. New? Must be really good as your like the Ann Arbor cocktail queen, no?

  4. amandakatarina
    May 9, 2012

    Looks so good!

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This entry was posted on May 2, 2012 by in Dining, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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