This week’s adventure led us back to Olive Branch, MS — this time to the Wolf River Brisket Company, and we decided to bring the princes, and their taste buds, along for the ride. I don’t know about anyone else’s teenagers, but ours are homebodies, and it’s hard to get them out of the house. To me it’s quite weird, but hey, I’m not complaining. For now, I know where they are. Anyway, we really enjoyed getting their perspectives on the dishes.
I figured out something while we were out this week: my palate is pickier than everyone else in my family. This really surprised me because I’m the one who is always mixing stuff together and who will try just about anything. This being said, the palace opinions were all over the place this week.
Again, we had quite a few dishes, so I’ll try to be brief, but I’m sure you know by now, brevity isn’t my strong suit.
- Appetizers: Smoked Queso w/ Blue Tortilla Chips, Pimento Cheese & Bacon Jam
- The King’s Meal: Wedge Salad, Smoked Wings
- My meal: WRB Grits & Brisket, Burt Ends & Mac
- Crown Prince: Pulled Chicken Sandwich, Mac n’ Cheese
- Little Prince: Smoked Wings
- Desserts: Pecan Cobbler, Bread Pudding
Let’s get into it…
Smoked Queso: King(3/5) Me (3/5)
There really isn’t much for me to write here. It tasted just like its name implies. The flavor was rich and deep, which I appreciate in a good cheese dip, but for me, it was a little thicker than I like my queso. Look, I want self-leveling queso. When I stuck a chip in it, the indention remained until someone came behind me and scooped it out. That’s a dealbreaker for me, but the King and Princes did not seem to have a problem with the consistency, in fact, it seemed to be the Crown Prince’s favorite.
Pimento Cheese & Bacon Jam: King(3/5) Me (4.5/5)
Yes, yes, and YASS! I could really leave it at that, but that doesn’t really help anyone understand what the dish tastes like. The more we all come together on this blog, the more I realize I might be a little bit of a food snob. I don’t know about you, but my first trek into the land of pimento cheese was about 30 years ago along the orange-brick road created by good ol’ Mrs. Stratton. I haven’t had hers in a while, and I hope the quality hasn’t declined like that of many of the other now profit-driven famous food brands, but “back in the day”, Mrs. Stratton’s pimento spread was the bomb.com.
I was open-minded going into my first taste. I knew it wouldn’t be Mrs. S’, but I hoped it would be close. It was. The pimento cheese itself was smoky, sharp, and zesty just like good pimento cheese should be.
The bacon “jam” was not actually jam (Praise God). It was more like a relish because of it’s made up of bacon bits; it was near perfect. It was savory, smoky, and sweet, and it PERFECTLY complemented the sharp tang of the pimento cheese.
If it weren’t good enough by itself, the Crown Prince suggested that I try it with the smoked queso, and the mild and creamy component of the queso somehow made the more complex flavors of the PC&BJ pop even more. Good catch, Son. There may be a place for your taste buds in this business. Keep eating!
Smoked Wings: Me (4.5/5)
These wings almost tasted like the King’s. We all thought so. This is a compliment to the King and WRBC because these wings were really good. I seemed to glean savory flavors of salt, pepper, onion, garlic, Worcestershire, red pepper, and perhaps paprika. The flavor was robust and the wings were juicy, without being too salty– indicating a well-executed marinating process. Needless to say, we all enjoyed them.
WRBC Grits & Brisket: King(2/5) Me (2.5/5)
If you put anything with grits, it had better be amazing, because if it isn’t, like my grandma used to say when somebody was gonna be in trouble if they messed up, “There’ll be hell to tell the Captain.” Hey, Captain, “Hell!”
Now, I might be wrong because I didn’t into this with as much as an open mind as I usually do on meals I’ve grown to love, but when it comes to restaurant-quality meat and grits, I’m pretty closed minded.
For me, good meat and grits starts with the grits. My frustration here started with the grits.
So, I knew
Now, I understand the importance of balance in a multi-faceted dish. In order for the entire dish to work well, each part has to stay in its own lane; no divas allowed. This grit cake wasn’t even that. It just wasn’t seasoned well in addition to being dry. It’s like the altos not half-singing their parts and the performance has no depth.
The brisket part was okay though. The fried onion strips were real — more chewy than crispy — and good. The pickled green tomatoes tasted like sweet pickles with a tomato texture and added an interesting dynamic to the whole thing, but overall, I couldn’t get with it. I felt that there needed to be more sauce to compensate for the dryness of the grit cake and the texture of the brisket. There were complex flavors, which I normally love, but this just didn’t do it for me.
Burnt Ends and Mac: King(4/5) Me (3/5)
Here’s the dish caused dissension amongst the royals. They guys seemed to love it, and for me, it was just “okay”. Here’s the thing, mac and cheese is a serious matter, after all, it’s comfort food. I got no comfort here. Let me tell you, I‘ve enjoyed some great macaroni and cheese in my lifetime. Two of my favorites are Rosie’s and Ruby’s (my mother and mother-in-law), and trust me they are vastly different but equally good. Ruby made the best creamy mac and cheese I ever sat upon my taste buds, and my mama makes the most amazing moist, cut-able version that I’ve ever had.
In my opinion, WRBC’s mac-and-cheese was, like the baked grits, on the drier side– well, drier than I prefer. I think it may come down to the quality of cheese being used. High-quality cheese tends to melt creamier. Low-quality cheese has a higher oil content. I can usually tell the difference when eating. I tasted it here. Quality ingredients yield quality flavor.
Luckily the Burnt Ends weren’t really what they sounded like. They are actually those really yummy outside edges of the meat covered in their signature sauce. To
Overall, the bland and mac and cheese worked here because it allowed the sweetness of the sauce and the smoke and savor from the meat to shine through, dry nature of it let the wetness from the sauce have a moment in the spotlight.
We had a very animated discussion about our likes and dislikes concerning this dish, and while I’ll probably never eat it again, in fact, I didn’t even finish it, the royal fellas thought it was really good.
Pulled Chicken Sandwich: King(3.5/5) Me (3.5/5)
Featuring pulled smoked chicken, crispy onions, pickled green tomatoes, bacon, signature sauce and melted provolone and a toasted torta bun, I actually found this sandwich to be pretty tasty. The chicken was moist and tender, and all the components came together nicely. I thought the bread choice was fitting. It was crusty, chewy, delicious, and substantial enough not fall apart when moistened with the juices from the wet ingredients.
Those darn pickled green tomatoes made an appearance again. They tasted okay, but their signature sauce was already sweet, and the sweetness from the tomatoes pushed my sweetness threshold a little too far. Once I removed the tomatoes, the sandwich was actually pretty good.
Now on to dessert!!!
Pecan Cobbler: King(2.5/5) Me (3/5)
I’d never heard of pecan cobbler before, and I’d say that I was pleasantly surprised by my first taste. It kinda tasted like a loose caramel pecan pie with a thin layer of cake-like crust on top of way too many pecans. I am aware that pecans are supposed to be
The sauce, which had a caramel vibe to it, was actually tasted very, very good. It was rich, with the perfect amount of sugar and a nice, smooth consistency. The crust was good all by itself, but it was a little too sweet for my taste buds. For the most part, everything seemed to be mostly in harmony, and I liked it. I just limited the amount I ate.
BREAD PUDDING: King(5/5) Me (4/5)
Bread pudding will probably always get an all caps heading from me because as you may know, it is one of my most favorite things to eat. This one was very good, but it was for a specific palate. This bread pudding was cinnamon heavy. We all agreed that it tasted like a cinnamon roll with bread pudding texture. So, if you’re not into cinnamon, you won’t be into this bread pudding. The sauce was very similar to that of the cobbler (above) and very fitting for this dessert. There was no debate on this one, we all enjoyed this bread pudding.
Overall: King(3.5/5) Me (3/5)
From its modern twist on farmhouse-chic decor to its adventurous menu offerings, Wolf River Brisket Company is a pretty good spot to gather, grab a meal, and enjoy the company of the important people in your world. I found the restaurant to be clean, open, airy and welcoming, and the staff was courteous. The price for each menu item is not very expensive (click here for menu), but as far as quantity of food goes, this is a case where you get what you pay for. The dishes we had were kind of small to be considered a whole meal (unless you order the plates or the sandwiches that come with sides). As for taste, the food was a bag of hits and misses for me. I would definitely go back if someone asked me to, but I can’t see myself being the one suggesting it.
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