Red, Hot & Blue Memphis Barbecue
25750 Novi Road, Novi, MI
Review by Rosie, MaceVindaloo, ThePlazaQueen, PandaCat
We've driven past this place often on our daily travels, the bright neon sign catching our attention every time. We kept saying we ought to stop in and check it out, and finally we did. It's a small place in a very small shopping strip on a busy and narrow road. We got there fairly late on a Saturday evening, arriving at about 8:30 (closing time is 10 PM). Earlier in the evening, it might have been busier, but at that time, things were quiet and we could be seated immediately. This was fine with us because we were hungry.
Our waiter came over immediately to take drink orders and brought them out promptly. We ordered Jalapeño bites to accompany our drinks while we perused the menu and those appeared quickly as well. Service was quite prompt and friendly throughout our meal, so this place gets good marks for that. (You should know by now that Hutties are sticklers for service, as well as barbecue!)
The youngest Hutlet ordered the usual chicken strips and fries and was quite happy. Another Hutlet was a little more adventurous and ordered a pulled pork platter, which consisted of a mound of shedded pork meat with barbeque sauce poured over it; baked beans and hushpuppies as the side dishes of choice. This seemed a little odd to us aficionados since we're used to pulled pork being served as a sandwich on a hamburger roll or on slices of white bread, but what mattered was the taste and it tasted pretty good. And to be honest, some of us actually don't understand the bun or whitebread the pulled pork is better on its own and the way they serve it here saves us having to pull the shreads of pork off the bread.
The adults in the party ordered rib combos, which may be obtained sauced in one of three ways: wet, dry, or as their website says "suh-weet." We opted for wet and dry. The wet ribs were dripping in the house "Mojo Mild BBQ Sauce," while the dry ribs exuded the flavors of their secret blend of spices. The brisket fiend of the group ordered brisket "for research purposes" to see if Red, Hot & Blue's could measure up to his home-cooked brisket. Finally, Yours Truly decided to sample the pulled pork, as well.
How were the ribs? Well ... we had gone to Blue Smoke last summer in the Big Apple. It's not that the ribs here at RH&B were lacking or substandard ... either it's just not as good as the big city eatery, or it's of a different style and we like Blue Smoke's style better. The pulled pork was rather bland; had to keep putting on more sauce, then more sauce, in order to flavor it up. The brisket was okay, but it simply didn't measure up to the specialty of the 'Hut (the recipe is in Hut Cuisine, see if you can locate it!); maybe since this is a Memphis-style place, they might be forgiven for not doing a Texas-style brisket too well? What was wrong? Not enough flavor, and kind of tough.
In researching background for this review, we learned that RH&B is a chain with locations in ten states. One of the founders of the chain is a former Tennessee congressman and governor who wanted to create a place where people could not only eat great 'cue, but also listen to great Memphis-style Blues. The décor in the restaurants reflects this passion by decorating with large cutouts of blues notables like B.B. King and portraits of Elvis, Muddy Waters, and Rufus Thomas. They also sport the eponymous neon lighting in the restaurant itself and casual red and white vinyl checked tablecloths, for that honky-tonk feel (but safer and cleaner). Check out their website (www.redhotandblue.com) and you'll see that their logo (pigs in Ray-Bans strumming electric 6-strings) reflects blues, rock and BBQ too. The food really is pretty good and quite reasonably priced for what is offered. Dinner for four, including tax and tip, was under $60.
At least there's a decent place nearby that will salve our craving for good barbecue; it isn't the best we've had, but it's here, it's decently priced, and the food isn't bad, especially when you consider how far north Novi really is from Memphis. And the music is good, too!
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