In my off and on quest to find the best BBQ in the greater Ann Arbor area, I made a trip out to Ron’s Roadside BBQ today. It is located on Pontiac Trail, just east of the intersection with Dixboro Road.
Pulling into the parking lot, it looked as I would expect and the faint column of smoke rising from the smoker smelled promising. The restaurant is in an old building that looks like it has seen better days. Regardless of the aluminum siding on the outside of the building, it appears that it may be of the same vintage as the establishment date posted inside (1957). Speaking of the interior, it is as no frills as the outside-post and plank walls and a bare concrete floor.
The meats on the menu included ribs, chicken (whole, 1/2 or pulled), brisket, pulled beef, pulled pork and pulled lamb. Sides, or Fixin’s as Ron calls them, include several that you would expect like mac n cheese, baked beans, slaw, and American potato salad. Surprises include beet salad, cucumber salad, and German potato salad.
Since I was ordering food to go, I opted for sandwiches, a pulled pork for me and a pulled chicken for my wife. I added a small side of slaw to complete our sample. After waiting what seemed to be an extraordinarily long time (between 10 and 15 minutes), I got my order and left.
We ate our sandwiches and the slaw when we got home and I would have to say it got very mixed reviews in my household. The pulled pork was very juicy, but it didn’t really have any smoke flavor and I couldn’t taste even a hint of a spice rub. It had a decent porky taste, but that was about it. My wife’s pulled chicken was pretty dry and also didn’t have any smoke flavor. The worst part of the chicken sandwich though, was the splintered bone (three pieces) that my wife found in the middle of the chicken. The slaw was ok, but tasted like it might have come from a Gordon Food Service carton.
Overall, I think the best part of the entire meal was the sandwich rolls. They had a decent crust and were soft and buttery inside, kind of like a good brioche. Mine soaked up a lot of the juice from the pulled pork and didn’t just deteriorate like many sandwich rolls do.
My complete assessment of Ron’s Roadside BBQ is very mixed as well. I was slightly disappointed that they had no brisket, but that could happen to any BBQ restaurant. The wait seemed a bit long since there was only one other person in the restaurant. The sandwiches were served with sauce on them (I follow the mantra that good BBQ doesn’t need sauce), but I wasn’t offered the chance to ask for it on the side. The pork had a decent flavor, it just didn’t have the smokey flavor that I look for in BBQ. I would be interested in trying the brisket or pulled beef, but considering that Ron’s Roadside BBQ is off the beaten path and no where near I tend to go often, it isn’t likely to happen any time soon.