Having heard positive things about Red Rock Downtown BBQ (located in downtown Ypsilanti), I had hoped to try what they had to offer during Meat Week. The timing didn’t work out then, so when the opportunity came along this week, I felt obligated to give it a try. I invited my friend Deb to join me, since she is a fellow unapologetic carnivore who I knew would appreciate the chance to try a restaurant for the first time.
We had both looked at the menu online before we arrived, so we each had ideas of what our choices should include. The Burnt Ends seemed the most promising among the appetizers and the Perfect Trifecta (a combination plate including a 1/2 slab of ribs, pulled pork and brisket) with sides of mac & cheese, sweet potato fries and a pair of cornbread muffins would allow us to sample a good variety as our entree.
The Burnt Ends came heaped on a small platter with a good sample of pickled jalapeno pepper slices. According to the menu, the Burnt Ends are trimmed from the brisket, rubbed with spices and smoked a second time. They were moist, tender and extremely flavorful. Their flavor was so pronounced, they did not need any of the sauces available at the table. Without a doubt, they were the best thing we had.
The Perfect Trifecta came spread out across a large platter and initially appeared to be more than we would be able to eat between the two of us. The pulled pork was shredded and also very tender, but it could have had more flavor. The brisket was thinly sliced and had an ample fat cap that provided a pleasant and slightly smoky taste. The ribs had a dry rub that was dominated by cumin and chili powder. The rub helped to preserve the juiciness I expect from ribs, even as they were done well enough to have the meat pull easily off the bones.
The sides each provided good taste and texture. The cornbread muffins were sweet and crumbly, spiked with kernels of corn. The sweet potato fries were a bit crispy, lightly coated with a tempura-like batter. The best of the sides was definitely the mac & cheese. It consisted of cavatappi noodles bathed in a cheesy bechamel sauce with a sprinkling of finely shredded mild cheddar (or perhaps colby) cheese on top. It was perfectly creamy and cheesy, just like homemade.
There was a selection of BBQ sauces available at the table. Our waitress described the varieties to us, two tomato-based: one sweet & smoky, one spicy & tangy; two of Carolina origin: one mustard-based, one vinegar-based and seasoned with red pepper flakes. Each of the sauces tasted a bit one dimensional, but a 50-50 mix of the two tomato-based ones resulted in a decently complex flavor that complemented each of the meats. It also served as a good dipping sauce for the sweet potato fries.
For drinks, there was a good list of beers on tap, a mixture of Michigan brews, as well as regular pub standards like Guinness. I had a glass of Wolverine State Brewing Company’s Dark Lager to go along with my meal.
Overall, I would have to say that I enjoyed the meal. While I am not likely to order all the variety on my next visit, I would certainly have the Burnt Ends and Mac & Cheese again. That might allow me the opportunity to try one of the desserts that our waitress offered.