Tuesday, April 30, 2013

First Thoughts: RG's BBQ Cafe in Laurel

Spare ribs, collards and corn bread
You have a high-end chef trying to lay low in Laurel -- dishing up barbecue that is very worth the drive to U.S. 1.

You'll know them because it'll be the only hole-in-the-wall dining room that shows the Food Network.

You'll also know them for the food.  Smokey, seared spare ribs, light corn bread, and the best collard greens that I remember eating.

That was my first platter, and it only suggests more good things to find on that menu.  RG's BBQ Cafe is a new restaurant in the U.S. 1 building that used to be the Bar-B-Que House.  It's the same casual spot with counter service and a small dining room.  But it's a new operation.

It's an operation run by Robert Gadsby -- former executive chef at the Biltmore Hotel in LA and a 2007 contestant on Iron Chef America.  I had noticed the new signs, but Gadsby seems to be running a low-key operation with a Groupon, but no new Web site.

He's not going low on the food.  My $14 platter centered on spare ribs -- meaty ribs with a firm bite and smokey flavor.  It was a huge half rack, but the side dishes were the real shock.  Generous portions of special food.  Corn bread with full flavor and the lightest texture.  Collard greens cooked to perfect tenderness and an earthy tone.

If you're honest, you'll admit that the best part of many collard greens is the meat.  I'll dig around good greens to find a burnt end or some other pork.  But RG's greens may be vegetarian.  At least, I didn't see any meat.  I just forked up greens.  It takes real talent to make something that simple taste so delicious.  I ate dinner watching Chopped on the television, and I'm sure that my meal beat everything in the show.

I'm excited to eat more at RG's BBQ Cafe.  This is on my way home, so I'll work through the pulled pork, the baby back ribs, maybe the burger.  There are hot dogs, which I would normally skip but might be special if they're done like the collard greens.

Gadsby is the chef who folks have said may be taking over the Venegas Prime Filet in Fulton.  I need a lookout to watch for a new menu at Venegas.  MoCo wrote a comment last week, saying that folks at Venegas said the new menu could be coming in the next week.  Has anyone seen it?  Tasted it?

RG's BBQ Cafe
9990 N. Washington Street (U.S. 1)
Laurel, MD 20723

(301) 604-2333

NEAR:  RG's BBQ Cafe is the old Bar-B-Que House on U.S. 1 in Laurel.  It's north of Main Street where U.S. 1 has split into separate north-bound and south-bound lanes.  RG's BBQ Cafe is on the south-bound side.

RG's BBQ Cafe on Urbanspoon


Rob said...

Just elbowed my way in for the last of his specials: bacon-wrapped barbecue quail!! That was a first for me, but I will be looking for it again. It was that amazing. He let me have a menu on the condition that I not 'blog' it. This place won't stay below the radar for long.

daddymac said...

This guy is the "real deal" I got the BBQ Lamb Shank it was fall apart tender and deeply flavored. I returned and got ribs with beans and greens. All were fantastic. His sauce options were also varied and delicious.

Rob said...

He's up on Groupon today. RG's Groupon

George B said...

Not just hot dogs, but a BLT hot dog. Wonder what else might turn up here?

Kristi C. said...

I would love to post a comment about the food, but they are closed on Sundays; thought I would save someone else from wasting their time on a Sunday.

Anonymous said...

We went twice this week -- the first time we had lunch and got a Southern Dog (a hot dog with BBQ sauce, pulled pork, and coleslaw) and a Fish Po'boy, both were great. We grabbed carryout two nights later and got the 2 meat platter (1/2 rack of ribs & 1/2 chicken) and both sides were great -- bbq beans & collard greens.

John said...

I don't understand the love for this place. What he is serving is not true bbq. Do they have a smoker? I doubt it. Not a bit of smoke in the pulled pork or ribs. The ribs were definitely cooked in an oven as they were "fall apart tender", which true bbq'd ribs should not be. I will give the place credit for the side dishes I tried. The mac n' cheese had a bit of spice, which was nice. The corn bread was not your typical corn bread. Sweet, but not overly sweet. That said, I'll take Kloby's any day of the week over this place.

Alex said...

@John - They have an indoor smoker...the same as Kloby's. Commercial outdoor fire pits, or outdoor smoke shacks, are tough-to-impossible to set up in many places due to zoning restrictions. Also, I grew up in the south (eastern NC), and have had many half-racks of fall apart tender ribs from many places including nationally known BBQ joints and well-kept local secrets - don't confuse your preference for an objective definition of the ONLY way that all ribs should come out.