Thursday, May 14, 2009

Blackwater Bar-B-Q Review: The Quest for Best 'Que Continues

After my recent lunch visit to Blackwater Bar-B-Q in College Park, I’m pretty close to being able to say that I’ve eaten at every barbecue restaurant in Central Florida. An accomplishment, I must say, that’s been a pleasure to achieve. I love barbecue. Barbecue is like pizza to me; even when it’s bad, it’s pretty dang good.

The Pulled Pork Samie ($6.75) I enjoyed at Blackwater, was pretty dang good. I was immediately impressed by the presentation. The sandwich looked awesome. The meat seemed just pulled from the bone and was perfectly smoked with nice pink and dark sections. I loved the dark, crispy edges that gave each bite a crunch. There wasn’t too much of a smoky flavor - that’s a good thing – it can often over-power the meat. One disappointment: the sandwich was served between two large slices of plain, white bread. Why not garlic bread? That would have been so much better.

Two squeeze bottles of barbecue sauce were on each table. One labeled sweet; the other nameless, but in a different-looking bottle. I’m assuming the nameless bottle was regular, but it tasted nearly identical to the sweet. Both sauces were sweet to fruity, and not spicy at all. Luckily a bottle of Tabasco sauce allowed me to turn up the heat on each sauce.

I selected two sides: slaw and pork and beans. The slaw was chopped coarsely, and was what I call dry. There wasn’t much liquid in the slaw, but what liquid there was, seemed too vinegary for my tastes. In fact, the slaw was on the cusp of being sour. The pork and beans were ordinary, but full of pulled pork and chopped onions. I’d have preferred the beans be tarted up to barbecue beans status, or even baked beans status, but the plain old pork and beans weren’t bad.

For dessert, I had to try the Pecan Pie ($3.50). Boy, am I glad I did. It was simply delicious. Full of pecans, the filling was super sweet, but tasted of caramel, not just sugar. The graham cracker crust was flaky and browned nicely. The only way to improve this pie would be to serve it between cold and room temperature. Pulled directly from the cooler, the pie slice was too cold, but warmed quickly outside in the sunshine.

Service was friendly, and the food served quickly. I ordered at the counter, and a server brought my meal to the table.

There are a couple of metal picnic tables inside and a nice covered patio area outside. The restaurant seems newer than most other barbecue stands, and was very clean. Employees continually wiped down tables and counter tops as I dined, and they seemed well trained. I liked the professionalism shown by everyone.

After eating at nearly every barbecue restaurant, shack, shanty, joint, stand, hut, trailer, place, and hole-in-the-wall in town, I’ve gotten to know quite a bit about the barbecue served in the Orlando area. The barbecue at Blackwater isn’t the best in town, but nowhere near the worst. I’d say it’s somewhere in the middle to front of the pack.

If you’re looking for a newer, nicer, cleaner barbecue stand, Blackwater Bar-B-Q is for you. If you want the best barbecue in town, look elsewhere.

3 Happy Hogs out of 5

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Justin said...

The pulled pork is good, but you must go back and eat the baby backs. Simply the best in town.

Anonymous said...

For my money, I still like Cecil's Texas BBQ on Orange. Their Texas toast is perfect (and encloses their sandwiches), their brisket and smoked turkey are fantastic, and the jalapeno beans and jalapeno mashed potatoes are tasty. Plus, they serve their sauces warm, the only way I've ever had sauce at a true outdoor barbecue. And free soft serve ice cream!

I do have to admit that Blackwater is better at the pig...their ribs and pulled pork are superior to what Cecil's can do. If you took the pig from Blackwater and the sides & sandwiches & sauces from Cecil's, you'd have a near perfect bbq joint.

A while back I came up with a BBQ taxonomy for Orlando:

J.G. said...

Have you tried Bubbalou's? They have my vote.

Eating Orlando said...

Justin, I'll have to come back for those baby backs.

sbroadway, Haven't been to Cecil's in a while. I ate there for lunch one day and smelled like smoke the rest of the day. Co-workers even complained it was so bad! Have to plan a visit when I can shower afterward. Love your BBQ taxonomy. Mind if I link to it in a post? What are your thoughts on Porkies in Apopka?

j.g., Sure, Bubbalou's is one of my favorite spots. For some reason, though, I prefer the Winter Park location even those it's not the nicest.


House of Thuan said...

Those slices of bread look mighty thick, like Texas toast-size cuts.. that makes it a step above plain bread. But I agree, it could have been toasted and garlic butter applied.

J.G. said...

I prefer the Winter Park location, too. The "atmosphere" is part of the charm, and I've seen some fancy Park Ave. types there a time or two. Good is good.

Lake Mary Food Critic said...

So, what is the best BBQ in Orlando?