Friday, August 31, 2007

Rub It, Smoke It, Eat It

Oh Madonn', that's good BBQ.

Once upon a time, I was in the barbecue business. Quite honestly, I really didn't know what we were doing. I was just The Guy With The Space, my business partner Sam had all the bbq experience. For that venture, we combined his style of bbq with my style of Hawaiian bbq and something fresh, fun and exciting was made.

Only I didn't really understand any of it.

As time passed and I traveled throughout America, I stopped in various bbq joints trying their fare and seeing how it compared to ours. All of it was very different and I came to realize that we really had a superior bbq offering in our little shack in Timonium. Then Sam had a heart attack and spent the last couple years recovering, which put an end to our bbq venture, for now.

So every once in a while, I like to try a different BBQ joint in the area. Most haven't been to my taste, but I continue undaunted. Today's jaunt was to a place I learned about through the folks at It's called Kloby's Backyard Barbecue and it's on Rolling Road just off of Security Blvd. They're open from 11am to 8pm and let me tell you, it's pretty damn good.

Of all the BBQ joints I've visited, Kloby's is the closest to the style of BBQ we offered at The Ono Grill.

The problem with being a solo diner like me is that you want to sample everything. This is not conducive to maintaining a slim figure so one must prepare in advance by asking the kitchen crew to box it "to go" so that temptation will not get the better of me. Happily, Kloby's offers a "Three Meat Plate" allowing your choice from a variety of meats and two sides. I decided to go with the pulled pork, baby back ribs and brisket with baked beans and mac 'n cheese, plus an order of french fries and a big cup of sweet tea.

The interior is pretty simple. Six picnic tables with plastic table cloths and concrete floors. I had the misfortune of choosing the picnic tables whose 2x4s weren't quite even, causing my big cup of sweet tea to tip over and spill sticky tea all over the place. Luckily the chef was aware of this and quickly cleaned up my mess - thanks!

Finally, my food was ready. First off, the fries were nicely done. Fresh cut, blanched and then fried to a nice golden brown, though I would have preferred them a bit crispy. But they were perfectly salted and quite tasty. The surprise was the "liquid-y" baked beans. Usually you find baked beans with very little "syrup", these were swimming in a sweet but tart liquid in which real chunks of pork fat floated like little cubic life preservers. The beans were just wonderful. The mac 'n cheese was your basic Kraft mac 'n cheese. I don't know if they actually used the Kraft in a box, but it was very similar. While some may pooh-pooh this kind of thing, I actually applaud it. It's lowbrow fer sure, but BBQ isn't meant to be a stuffy, white tablecloth affair and I get a bit tired of the Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese we get at so many restaurants today that it's nice to come back to the mac 'n cheese of your youth. I loved it.

Also included with the meal was a big slice of corn bread. I had a bite. It was okay. The crust was pretty brown and I suspect this is a batch that was just a bit overcooked. I would have liked it hot with butter but I was too busy chowing on everything else to look inside the bag to see if there was any butter hiding in there.

First off, they squirted their BBQ sauce over all the meat. It's a thin and light sauce that complimented the meats well. They put just enough without smothering it. The pulled pork was moist, tender and stringy with just a hint of tangy-ness. It was quite tasty and just the right texture that you expect from pulled pork.

At The Ono Grill, we sliced out brisket thin on a deli slicer. The meat was so much more succulent that way and I think it's a shame that most places give you these thick hand slices that makes the meat more chewy. Happily, Kloby's slices them on a slicer and slices them thin. The brisket was good, but slightly on the dry side of moist. I would have preferred a shorter cooking time. However, there were a couple of fat-laden slices hiding beneath the rest and when I ate those, the fat kept just the perfect amount of moisture and it was sublime. But only those two bites.

By far my favorite of the three meats was the baby back ribs. The smoke ring was about a 1/8" thick and just right. Crusty on the outside but falling off the bone tender on the inside. That was some good eating. I really wanted to pound the whole half side of ribs on the plate but I had already eaten too much.

Overall, the food was great. I loved it. Loved it to the point that I had to go and tell the kitchen how much I loved it. "Hellaciously delicious" is what I told them. I will be back for more. In fact, as I'm sitting here, I'm seriously tempted to jump back in my truck and make the twenty minute drive to their shop before they close at 8pm.

But there's more to Kloby's than ribs, pulled pork and brisket. They're got smoked chicken, fried fish, beef ribs, St. Louis ribs, white fish, catfish, brisket cheesesteak sub and more to keep you coming back.

And I will be back. Very soon.

Kloby's Backyard Barbecue
Dogwood Shopping Center
2327 North Rolling Road
Baltimore, MD 21244