The first time I had ribs from Old Timers, was actually not at the restaurant in Millington, TN. A friend and collegue brought me a few bones to work in a Styrofoam box. Smoke flavor was perfect. The meat was redolent with wood smoke, despite their brief vacation in the fridge. No apparent loss of moisture or bark either. And the candy apple red sauce was a medium bodied, sweet and tangy sauce that I found to beautifully compliment the dry ribs, using it as a dip on the side. It reminded me of a sauce I had at a whole hog barbecue as a young man in the rural town of Selmer, Tennessee at a Faith Baptist church gathering. I’d also compare it to Payne’s bbq sauce on Lamar Ave in Memphis. I found something really addictive about that sauce. Just as I was really enjoying the sauce and trying to reverse engineer the recipe in my mouth, I ran out because half of it had melted into the Styrofoam tray in the nuke box. This, of course, meant I’d have to pay a visit.
A few months down the road, I took my family on a country drive out to Millington to check out Old Timers. The old brick building next to the railroad tracks with its wrought iron balcony, awnings and hand-painted signs seemed like something from a bygone era, with the exception of the stacked stone siding on the parking lot side. It was a family style country restaurant that included a window allowing a view of the pit room from the dining area. While I was checking out the smoker, my boys were entertained by toy trains rustling around elevated tracks near the ceiling.
Although we enjoyed the seating, the meat was a bit of a letdown. To be fair, my expectations were high after the delectably smoky bones I had at work. The ribs were just as tender and crusty as the others, but lacked the same smoke flavor. Smoke was definitely there, just not as much as the ones from before, which, interestingly enough, were day-old ribs that had been refrigerated and zapped in the microwave at work to reheat. Also, the sauce wasn’t quite the same. This time I was detecting an off-putting flavor-possibly grenadine, which I generally don’t care for in bbq sauce. Somehow, I didn’t get that before. The sauce my friend brought from Old Timers was outstanding. Despite my disappointment, the ribs were not bad at all and the sauce wasn’t altogether terrible, just not the heavenly stuff in that melted Styrofoam box. So I have to report mixed reviews here, which calls for a third visit. Round three…
Here are a few notes about the ‘que:
- Ribs-were tender, moist and had good bark both times.
- Ribs-mixed reviews-1st time the ribs were perfectly wood-smoked, despite having been refrigerated and reheated the next day. 2nd time the ribs lacked as much smoke flavor as before, but still good.
Sauce-mixed reviews-1st time I really, really liked the sauce. The candy apple red sauce was a medium bodied, sweet and tangy sauce that I found to beautifully compliment the dry ribs, using it as a dip on the side. 2nd time the sauce had an off-putting flavor. I suspected grenadine, which I don’t generally like in bbq sauce.
Thanks for visiting my Memphis bbq blog! Comments are welcome below. Tim Shirley