Saturday, June 4, 2016

Restaurant Review: Bad Brad's BBQ

Pretty Darn Good BBQ

Pig Candy in Itself is Worth the Trip

I really do love BBQ but it has to be good BBQ. I'm particularly fond of beef brisket and a nice smoked sausage with a middle of the road sauce that is both spicy and sweet. For me, the side dishes are often more important than they meat as I really enjoy a good slab of cornbread with sweet butter and love sweet potato mash and cream mac and cheese.

We go to Woodshop a lot and I really love that joint. Why am I speaking about Woodshop while I write about Brad's? Well, first Woodshop is my barometer because that's my favorite BBQ joint. It's also a way to provide a comparison as I can easily analyze everything we ate for the most part with something comparable there. I also think that a lot of what's going on at Bad Brad's may be a homage, whether conscious or unconscious, to Woodshop anyways. There are a lot of similarities. . .

We visited the Bad Brad's in Shelby Township. They have a few locations scattered across town, including a brand new one in Orion Township, actually very close by to Woodshop. I know comparison #1 right at the beginning of this review. While I will grudgingly wait 2+ hours for Woodshop I was pleasantly surprised that I only had to wait 20 minutes at Brad's. I have to admit I was nervous about that but my fear was unbased in reality. Score 1 point for Brad's for allowing me to eat almost right away.

Our trip to Brad's was actually triggered by talk of local BBQ and my insistence on traveling much further for Woodshop. During this conversation with friends today, they specifically mentioned Brad's and went on about Pig Candy. Pig Candy was an objective today for an appetizer. Pig Candy is delicious. Smoked and candied thick bacon hanging from a little clothesline. Yes, this stuff was good. No, there is nothing like this at Woodshop. If there was anything I would do differently with this Pig Candy would be to kick up the heat slightly by adding just a touch of Cayenne. They didn't ask me by the way, but that's what I would do. We also got an order of Chicken and Waffles. My family is not always as adventurous when it comes to spice as me so there were plans to request that this dish be minus the hot sauce. They forgot. I'm glad they did and quite honestly no one thought it was too spicy. Waffles covered in more pig candy, maple syrup, hot sauce, country gravy, and scallions. Ultra crispy pieces of chicken alternating with the waffles. I don't like chicken but those waffles were good. It's an appetizer but I can see this being a meal. In fact, after these two appetizers I really was ready to be done. I was full.

I wish we had had a little more time to work on appetizers but the main dishes were here before we had time to get through them. We ordered a half slab of St. Louis Ribs with a 1/4 Chicken, and a plate with Chopped Brisket. The Ribs were very tender and had a really nice smoke ring. I would say - and I hate to say this - they were a little bit better than the ones at Woodshop. I did miss my combination of Texas and NYC sauces to dip in from Woodshop but the 321 Sauce was pretty darn good.

The chopped brisket was double smoked and I think next time I would try the sliced instead. The reason I went with the chopped was I really do like those little shavings and I was forced to pick. At Woodshop you automatically get both. Here you have to choose. . . I don't want to choose. They were a little bit dry and more like burnt ends when you got to the bigger chunks. I'm not sure I would get these again here.

Now sides. . . Sweet potato mash was really delicious. I wish they didn't serve it in a bowl that reminds me of the plastic ones my kids used as toddlers. I'm pretty sure that is what they are truly. Cornbread was a little different, with almost a crispy muffin top consistency but they were delicious. Lots of nice jalepeno inside and there was a sweet component that was really complimented by the butter.

Mac and cheese at Brad's was creamy even if it was baked. I like my mac to be creamy. Woodshop's mac is not creamy and while it's rated as some of the best in Michigan, it's not my favorite side. However, Woodshop has Green Bean Casserole and Brad's does NOT have that so I this it's a toss up.

All in all this was a very nice meal. Brad's also serves wood fire pizzas. We ordered one to go - I really couldn't eat anything else - I had a little taste later on this evening. We ordered the Burnt Ends which had brisket, pig candy, blue cheese, grilled onions and garlic. While I'm still full, even now, it was damn good pizza. I just can't look at any more meat for a while.

I should mention the decor because the atmosphere there was fun. Reclaimed mismatched bricks and lots of wood made this really a very cool place. I can't help but think this was Woodshop reminiscent too but it worked and it was an enjoyable meal.

We will be going back. I now will be more strategic in what I order. I think Pig Candy and then a couple of sides would be plenty for me. I definitely think with the shorter wait we will be visiting again. 

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