|Cheap Shot From Mississippi|
Here's the deal about BBQ snobs (and The Daily Bellwether has entered several Kansas City Barbecue Society smoked meat contests and done reasonably well), they think all ribs should be slowly smoked for hours over a hardwood fire. They just can't get it through their skulls that many people enjoy ribs period. They like pulling a bone from a slab. They like chomping down on the meat. You don't have to wear a suit and silk underwear for a fine dining experience. Ribs are about chewing, greasy lips, putting aside the silverware. The Montgomery Inn is great because the ribs let people put aside the silverware. They come in droves, and have for a couple generations. They come for dates, anniversaries, First Communions, retirement parties, birthdays, all sorts of celebrations. When one of my sons took the oath of office to become an Air Force officer, we headed off to the Montgomery Inn to celebrate his decision to serve the nation. It's that kind of place. I don't think an out-of-town food critic -- and I certainly think the Cynical Cook certainly is talented -- can grasp the Montgomery Inn's place in this town's psyche.
Now, one of the best BBQ restaurants in the world -- in The Daily Bellwether's opinion -- is on U.S. 45 near Columbus, Miss. It is called Hank's, and it is absolutely unpretentious. The food comes on paper plates. Beans, coleslaw and potato salad are the side orders. There is no alcohol available. The parking lot is unpaved. The inside is simple -- Elvis kitsch and etc. There is a smoker out back and the meats that come out of it are to die for. All that said, Hank's just ain't the Montgomery Inn. It is a cinder block hole in the wall in a small town. Great food, but you wouldn't head there to celebrate grandma's 90th or cousin Nelda getting a PhD. Here's some of what the Cynical Cook had to say about the Montgomery Inn:
"I know that some people say that the Montgomery Inn never claimed their ribs are barbecued, but that’s how they are labeled on the menu. I had tried to go in with an open mind. I tried to tell myself that these ribs would be different. These ribs weren’t just different, they were bad. I barely ate a third of the rack, there were simply no redeeming qualities.
"Famous for their ribs, Montgomery Inn is a Cincinnati institution, but I have no idea why. Scrolling through chowhound, urban spoon, practically every food site, I kept seeing comments about ribs boiled to oblivion. I have no problem with ribs that are not cooked in a smoker, but there’s just something evil about boiling ribs."