Friday, October 14, 2005

Westpoint Barbecue, Dearborn, MI:

My wife Linda and I stopped in for lunch today at Westpoint Barbeque at 25301 Michigan Avenue in Dearborn, MI. It’s the first time Linda has tried a barbecue restaurant since we moved here from Florida and my second visit to a commercial barbecue restaurant in the Motor City area.

Before I say anything else about our experience, I should offer this disclaimer: Linda and I have cooked in barbecue contests with KCBS and FBA for the past three years. We cook our own barbecue at home and enjoy it a lot. Linda grew up in Tennessee and is southern-style barbecue connoisseur. I grew up in Missouri, but fell in love with Tennessee style pulled pork after I moved to Tennessee after college graduation.

I’ve driven by the Westpoint Barbeque restaurant a lot in my trips to and from work and the place always seems to have a lot of cars in the parking lot.
We stopped in at 11 a.m. for lunch on our way to Greenfield Village. We were ahead of the regular lunch crowd and there were only two or three other groups in the restaurant when we arrived.

We figured that any restaurant that has the word “barbeque” in their name should stand a good chance of serving some pretty good barbecue, so we decided to give it a try.

Our intention was to order pulled pork and spare ribs; that way we could both try some of each.

The waitress brought our menus and we noticed that Westpoint Barbeque serves a lot of other things besides barbecue. The first item that caught my eye when I opened the menu was “pitas”. They must have had three or four different pitas to choose from. They also serve fish, steaks, hamburgers, and a variety of other sandwiches and salads. Linda was disappointed that they didn’t have “pulled pork” on the menu.

I ordered the barbecue ribs (1/2 slab) and Linda chose the “sliced” barbecue pork tenderloin sandwich. The waitress served our drinks quickly and brought silverware to the table with the food arriving within 10 minutes of placing the order. The tables were clean, the waitresses were pleasant and we were greeted and seated within a few seconds of arriving.

The ribs are served with Texas Toast and a choice of fries, broiled potatoes or a baked potato. I chose a side order of cole slaw and the broiled potatoes. At first glance the ribs appeared over cooked. They were very black in color and were slathered in a bright red barbecue sauce. The ribs were pre-cut with notches to make them easier to pull apart, but I was able to separate the ribs easily.

Upon first bite my taste buds were greeted with some flavors and textures that I do not usually associate with barbecue ribs; a “charred” texture to the meat from the top of the ribs and a lack of sweetness to the barbecue sauce. I did not notice any rub on the ribs at all. I can only guess that the ribs were cooked with a lot of sauce, and therefore the cooking process “burned” the sauced onto the ribs causing the charring effect. I prefer barbecue sauce that is sweeter and have grown accustomed to honey or molasses flavors. The sauce seemed to be a derivative of the Cattleman’s sauce that you can buy at Sam’s Club warehouse store. I can also only assume that the ribs were cooked a long time before they were served; perhaps the day before. They had the characteristics of barbecue ribs that I sometimes eat as leftovers. The vinegar slaw and broiled potato wedges were very good.

The barbecue pork tenderloin sandwich was served on Texas Toast with lettuce, tomato and A LOT of barbecue sauce slopped on it. Linda commented that she’d never had barbecue with lettuce and tomato. She promptly removed them. Sauce was oozing out onto the bread from all sides. Linda commented that the meat was dried out and that the spice flavoring did not penetrate the meat through and through. I had a bite of the tenderloin and it didn’t take long to figure out why it was served with so much sauce; it was really dried out.

The waitress offered us refills and presented the check: $21 and change. We left a $4 tip and left.

I’ll be the first to admit that we are pretty critical restaurant guests. We notice things like unswept floors, finger prints on the glass, cigarette smells, and unclean restroom facilities. We found NONE of those characteristics at Westpoint Barbeque. The restaurant was very neat, very organized and very clean throughout the dining room area, the waitresses and bus boys were neatly dressed and pleasant. The restroom was one of the cleanest I’ve seen in a family-style restaurant.

On a scale of 1 through 10, I’d rate the overall dining experience a “7″ and the barbecue as “marginal”.

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