Friday, May 27, 2011

Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous

MEMPHIS: Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous
52 S 2nd St

Memphis, TN 38103


Open Tues-Thur 4:30-10:30, F 11-11, Sat 11:30-11

After a long day of BBQ'ing in Memphis, we needed a break, so we made our way back to the hotel to let things digest and watch some Grizzlies playoff basketball. As halftime neared I was catching my second wind and knew it was time to place an order at the famous Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous (I never could figure out the placement of that apostrophe since it's different on the menu and the sign. The sign seems incorrect since the name is 'Vergos'). The back alley that it fronts was just down the street from my hotel, so I grabbed a big to-go order to enjoy while watching the second half.

The rub of Greek spices certainly woke up the taste buds. This was the most liberally applied seasoning of the day. They don't call it a dry rub because it's applied during the cooking and not afterwards. They also prefer that you eat the ribs sans sauce. These baby back pork ribs are cooked over a direct heat charcoal fire so the fact that they were a bit tough was no surprise. For lack of a better word, they were very porky in flavor. Even with all that rub the flavor of pork pushed through. In all of those flavor profiles, one thing lacking was a good smokiness. Lamb ribs had a flavor profile all their own, and luckily is was not of mutton. These were definitely the milder tasting young lamb. This cut is normally very fatty, which is fine, but the fat on these ribs came in unfortunately chewy layers.

The pork sandwich in my order was constructed from a dinner roll, a fork full or two of the pulled pork, some coleslaw and a drizzle of the sauce. While not a true Rendezvous pork sandwich, it was satisfying thanks to very moist and tender pork. Sides of that mustard based slaw and salty beans were also good. Rendezvous is certainly a Memphis institution. Much of that reputation is based on the back alley location, the great service from an experienced staff, and a great atmosphere, but the food is not an afterthought. It may be overrun with tourists, but a trap, this is not.

Rating ***
Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous on Urbanspoon

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Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.