Most new restaurants anxiously await the arrival of—and subsequent judgment from—the city's major restaurant critics; in many cases, a good or bad review can make or break a new spot. Barbecue restaurants, though, have a different authority to answer to—Daniel Vaughn, aka the BBQ Snob, the Dallas-based barbecue reviewer who's been passing judgment on smoked meat from every corner of the state on his blog Full Custom Gospel BBQ since 2006 (making it practically an old-timer in blog years).
Vaughn has just published his thoughts on Dallas' newest barbecue spot, Babb Bros. BBQ in the up-and-coming Trinity Groves development, and the news is not good: Over three visits, Babb Bros. failed to impress the smoked meat aficionado with "washed out"-tasting ribs, "incredibly dry" pulled pork, and brisket that "tasted like nothing more than poorly seasoned pot roast", not to mention the dubious practice of sandbagging fried items during busy times, resulting in cold and soggy wings and fried onions. The only high points of Vaughn's patronages to the "Midwestern-style" 'cue joint were the smoked meatloaf, some excellent braised greens and homemade banana pudding, hardly enough to make Babb Bros. a barbecue destination for most.
Babb Bros. is a part of the culinary incubator program at Trinity Groves led by heavy-hitting restaurateur Phil Romano; the incubator program provides space and helps drum up capital for restaurant concepts in exchange for a partial stake in the business. The program is exclusively geared toward concepts that are duplicable; the aim is not to open just one restaurant, but many, meaning that Babb Bros. BBQ was intended to be a chain from the very start.
As Vaughn points out, Babb Bros. uses gas smokers instead of the more traditional wood versions, which "not only allows for ease of smoking at this location, but also allows for a similar product to be accomplished at other locations without the oversight of a seasoned pitmaster". Of course, the words "barbecue" and "chain" don't necessarily mix (see Dickey's and Sonny Bryan's for examples); a pitmaster's ability to turn out consistently great barbecue comes with time and experience, something that can't be easily replicated at multiple outlets.
Can Babb Bros. recover from an unimpressive early showing, or is it simply a concept doomed from the start by its eye for expansion? Furthermore, can chain barbecue ever really be that good?
· Babb Bros. BBQ [Full Custom Gospel BBQ]
· The Birth of Incubator Concepts in Dallas: Trinity Groves v Sylvan| Thirty [SideDish]
· More posts about Trinity Groves on Eater Dallas [-EDFW-]
[Photo credit: Trinity Groves]