Anyone who knows me, knows I love good BBQ. Yes, there are of course the standard ones known locally, Slow’s, Lockharts, or even Bert’s. Slow’s in Corktown has a special place in my heart, it is in the area of my people. But it has become almost better known for it’s mac and cheese or summer soups, like the cucumber cold soup (AMAZING – I would buy a 5 gallon bucket if I could!). The change in Slow’s may be due to the change in the kitchen staff since it’s opening. When they first opened the food was great, every time. Now, it’s hit or miss. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a staple in Detroit and I go whenever I am there or often times will make special trips. Thank God, they opened a take out location!
Lockhart’s in RO is pretty darn good. In my opinion the actual BBQ is almost better than Slows. The brisket is super tasty and much like Slow’s it has almost become better known for some of the other dishes offered….Anyone who has worked in a kitchen will tell you that when a kitchen is slammed sometimes the quality sacrifices due to being in the weeds. It’s a catch 22. A place gets known, gets busy and then the quality of the food struggles to keep up with demand. Lockhart’s is a staple in RO and a place I do enjoy going to often. They have many great dishes and the meats are mouth-watering!
There is apparently some debate as to whether or not Bert’s is an actual BBQ place or a food truck place….apparently it’s the latter. However, when in Detroit at the market and the sweet smell of BBQ wafts over me, I head to Bert’s. It is quite the experience. Seeing the countless grills open, working away perfectly cooking food, the grillman diligently monitoring meats, occasionally wiping his brow of perspiration… all the while being serenaded by local karaoke. Trust me it is a sight to see and the locals take it pretty seriously… like bringing their own mics! But the BBQ? True and authentic. Served in ‘to go’ style plating with a condiment station to adorn your meats with various sauces.
But when it comes to true BBQ Woodpile has it. I would post some photos of my actual meal, but I ate it all before even thinking of grabbing my camera. I don’t normally rave in great detail after going to a place but I can’t help myself after eating here. You know when you get a meal from a place, specifically BBQ, usually most of it is good, but there is always something that leaves you wanting. The cornbread is a little dry or maybe the coleslaw is a little lack luster, the pulled pork is amazing but the ribs are a little dry…you know what I am talking about.
Woodpile’s meal was completely flawless. I mean FLAWLESS. Two inch thick moist cornbread, that didn’t need butter, sweet and fresh coleslaw, side garnishes of pickles and pickled onions…I know what you are thinking, what about the meat???! Perfection. Perfect mouth watering pulled pork, fall off the bone dry rub ribs cooked to absolute perfection, and the brisket, oh the brisket! Perfectly seasoned, perfectly marbled cuts of meat that literally is Kurt Cobain for the mouth – that’s right, NIRVANA!
So I had a little time one day after a meeting and stopped into Woodpile at about opening time. Already customers in line. So where is this magical meat wonderland you ask? Clawson, Main just south of 14 Mile Rd. Remember the old style drive up A&W…you got it. They bought it and renovated the building.
The craftsmanship that went into this place is pretty spot on. The woodworking on the outside of the structure is simply beautiful. Great attention to detail while being simple, classic and timeless. Of course there is a little bit of humor too, superhero bathroom symbols, GENIUS!
The staff was of course really accomodating and let me in for a behind the scenes view of the kitchen. Shop just opened and they were all hard away at work. Prepping the lunch specials for the day, setting up for the days business and of course, already waiting on customers. Drooling customers I might add.
Honestly, the best part for me, was meeting the pit masters. These guys know the love of meat and running a kitchen. Bubba (formerly of Lockhart’s…which might explain the now wanting there) and Ryan. Two guys who graciously showed me around their haven and let me sample the days meat.
If these photos don’t have you salivating…let me tell you about the 15 hours that goes into prepping this perfection for carnivores. You could tell that both of these guys have a true passion for food. An understanding of the craft and art that goes into food and needs to stay present in the food overtime. Bubba and Ryan worked around each other in a speechless rhythm only known to kitchen people. Knowing eachother’s movements and complementing eachother seamlessly and often times without the need to speak, perfect harmony. All the while talking with me briefly about the love of meats, kitchen work and more specifically BBQ.
I thanked the guys for their time, the smells and wonderful samples….they thanked me for popping in and they went right back to their harmonious methodology.
If you have not yet been. If you have not yet heard. I suggest you get yourself some Woodpile, really soon. Today or tomorrow at the very latest!