I’m not a fan of BBQ, but when my husband dragged me to Walt’s BBQ on Colerain a few weeks ago, I liked the sides enough to suggest we go back.
We showed up for dinner at a little past 7 p.m. on a Thursday night. The parking lot was packed. We actually had to wait for a space. Happily, there were plenty of open seats inside and the hostess was able to grant my request for an “out of the way” spot. (I didn’t want to be totally obvious with the picture taking.)
The best non-food thing about Walt’s is the trivia cards on each table. Several editions of Trivial Pursuit gave their lives to provide the tables with a thick stack of cards. While the wait for food isn’t long, it seems even shorter while sucking down a beer and quizzing your dining companion on trivia.
(I always find it amusing when food writers refer to the person eating with them as their “companion.” It sounds kind of naughty and clandestine. Like maybe the NY Times food critic takes a call girl out for dinner on the paper’s dime.)
We both ordered entrees with our choice of two sides.
My companion (okay, it was just my husband) ordered his meal with a side of mashed potatoes and green beans. When I asked why, he told me “potatoes are my favorite vegetable.” (He refused to listen when I explained that they were more in the “bread” than “vegetable” group.) I think he ordered the green beans just because they required little chewing, and thus little tasting, to get down. I sampled the potatoes and they were adequate, although bland. I was surprised to find they had actual chunks of potato. It was nice to see evidence that they didn’t just come from a box. I have no comment on the green beans. I didn’t try them and I don’t think Mike did more than swallow them like big vitamin pills.
I put more thought into my sides. I ordered the sweet potato casserole. It is amazing. I’d say the primary ingredients are mashed sweet potatoes, butter, brown sugar, and chopped pecans. If potatoes count as vegetables, than sweet potatoes are my favorite. Honestly, though, the casserole is so decadent that I’m tempted to classify sweet potatoes as a dessert instead. I’m a cole slaw fiend, so I ordered that as my second side. It was disappointing: too much mayonnaise and too much vineger. The cabbage had marinated for so long that it had lost its firmness. I took only a few bites. (For the record, the best slaw in town is the veggie slaw at Gabby’s in Wyoming.)
Mike’s meal also came with a corn muffin. I love corn muffins and Walt’s are no exception. The muffins are heavy, moist, and sweet. They don’t even need the butter that comes alongside. These muffins are so good that I’ve had Mike drive to Walt’s and bring them home for me.
Last time we visited Walt’s, I also tried the macaroni and cheese and fried okra. Both were good.
Mike had the pulled pork and beef brisket. I couldn’t get more than an “Mmmmmmmm” out of him, so I tasted his meal myself. I hate pork, so, predictably, I hated the pulled pork. The beef, though, was great. It was juicy and flavorful and I would have been tempted to eat more if I didn’t have a huge plate of fish in front of me. Walt’s offers two bottles of BBQ sauce at the table (your guess is as good as mine as to which of the three sauces, original, sweet, or spicy, is in them). Mike slathered his meat with the bottle we assumed to be hot sauce (red lid), but I didn’t find it spicy at all. It tasted like you’d expect BBQ sauce to taste: sweet, smokey, and tart.
I ordered the tilapia based on the recommendation of a fellow Walt’s lover. I was served two very large pieces of deep fried fish. One of the ends was a bit over-crispy and the fillets wouldn’t have satisfied Chef Ramsey, but it was still satisfying and tasty. I appreciated that the fillets came with both a slice of lemon and tartar sauce. The portions of fish were so generous that, even with Mike’s help, I ate only one fillet. (Maybe I had too much sweet potato casserole?)
Last time we ate at Walt’s, I ordered the sausage and sauerkraut. It was dreadful. The kraut was overly tart and the sausage had been boiled so long that, once the casing was broken, it had the consistency of oatmeal. I’m no carnivore, but even a sometimes vegetarian like myself wants a little firmness when she eats flesh.
I’m mentioning appetizers last because I only dimly remember eating the fried pickles on my first visit. I shoved them down my throat so quickly that I hardly remember eating them at all. They were that good. Can you screw up fried pickles? I haven’t had any bad ones yet.
Walt’s is a budget and family friendly place for a casual dinner. You get loads of meat for a low price and there is a play area in one corner for the kiddies. (It's right next to the servers’ drink station, to their delight, I’m sure.) Adults will appreciate the beer and trivia. Walt’s BBQ is located on Colerain road, a little north of West North Bend Road. Try it this weekend. After all, Mikey likes it.