So awhile back we privately made a judgement about Virginia and barbecue, a rather hasty and somewhat misguided judgement, as it turns out. We had decided that Virginians just plain didn't know barbecue, our sincere apologies. We just had not yet been to Richmond, and now we're here, and we have been shown the light in the form of some damn good ribs over at Buz & Ned's Real BBQ.
Buz has been serving up great barbecue here since 1992. Ned is no longer with us, but the recipes are his, so his spirit lives on in the smoke and heat of Buz's hickory stoked pit. Gee, that was a nice eulogy, especially since we never met the guy.
We got to Buz & Ned's before 11:30 am, and there were already people in the place. By the time we left 45 minutes later they were in full swing, really busy, so it's no secret that this is the place to go. You walk in and order at the counter...I got the small pulled pork dinner with beans and slaw and Doug got the baby back ribs. The girl taking our order asked me if I wanted the slaw on the pork, as it comes as a sandwich on a bun, and next time I think I'll do just that. This first time, I didn't know if I'd like the slaw, so I asked for it on the side, but the slaw was terrific, as was everything else we ate. First the ribs, as these are some of the best we've had. They were meaty, superlatively so, with plenty of fat left on, and smoked perfectly, with the telltale line of pink that comes from a nice low and slow smoke going all the way through. Doug had a couple, and I asked him how they were before reaching over and grabbing one. He said he'd wait until I tried them to see what I had to say, and we were both in a state of complete crystal clarity on this one...divine, unctious, juicy, hickory smoked perfection. They give them a final turn on the grill after you order them, and mop them with their sauce, and that's the last time you see the sauce...they don't put it out on the table, and you wouldn't want it anyway, as they've hit them with just the right amount. The pulled pork was also delicious, smoky and tender, with a turn in the same sauce that creates that slightly sweet, slightly spicy flavor profile. The cole slaw is the creamy variety, but not buried in mayo, and has a wonderful hint of both powdered mustard and celery salt. Those of you who read our posts...thanks for that, by the way... know that I really like baked beans, and these are a revelation. They mix pintos, navy beans and dark kidney beans in a brothy concoction that strikes a nice balance between sweet with a hint of molasses, and spicy, with bits of pork and green bell pepper. Oh, and they give you a slice of garlic toast with the ribs that was excellent.
We enjoyed this place so much that we returned for another round a couple days later. It turned out to be a good idea as we discovered that the ribs can be inconsistent. The first time they were cooked to perfection. They were juicy, tender and just a little fatty with just a little char from the grill. The second time they were black all over, quite a bit drier and tougher all around. Gone was the flavor of the sauce used to mop the ribs, as it had been grilled right off along with all the fat. Mim tried the chicken sandwich, which was very good, but not alot of food. We feel we ought to mention something here, as this place is not cheap, and, while the ribs are a good value when they're cooked just right, the pork and chicken sandwiches are downright dainty. You can order a large chicken or pork dinner, and they'll give you a double order, which is a good idea. We initially thought this place was a sure bet for our top 10 but we can't decide if our first meal or our second meal was the standard here. Guess we'll have to go back a third time!