Restaurant Review: City Barbeque

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

During the past decade, homegrown City Barbeque has expanded from its original Henderson Road location into a regional chain. To avoid the pitfalls of centralized food preparation imposed by the pursuit of efficiencies of scale, the management has kept an unusually high percentage of cooking on-site.

The bosses have also resisted tinkering with the successful menu, so it's notable to find a major introduction in the City Barbeque lineup.

The new pulled-rib sandwich ($6.99) invites a comparison with the more traditional pulled-pork sandwich, a mainstay of every barbecue joint -- including City Barbeque. (The new sandwich, sampled at the Polaris restaurant, has been rolled out in all locations.)

The rib-derived meat -- it's pulled from City Barbeque's well-known barbecued ribs -- is more forceful: It's smokier, firmer and more varied. In contrast, the meat of the pulled pork is more homogeneous, uniformly lean and much more subtle in its smoking. It's also more moist and tender.

The rib meat, which can contain an occasional piece of gristle, is bound to appeal to anyone who likes prominent barbecue flavors. The flavors of smoke and grilling

are striking.

It's served in a stronger bun that was developed just for the new sandwich -- and it's a big plus.

Inside the bun is a sweet vinegar slaw on top of the meat -- a great complementary choice that doesn't compete. There's also a splash of City Barbeque's traditional barbecue sauce, which is sweet, flavorful and not particularly hot.

But why not match the new product with all of the City Barbeque sauces? Containers are on each table. Just ask that the sauce be served on the side when you order, and run your own tests at the table.

One of the best sides continues to be the fresh-cut fries ($1.99), cooked dark with lots of fried-potato flavor.

According to the management, the chain has made a considerable investment in the fries -- from the choice of potato (Idaho) and the twice-cooked method to the quick-recovery deep fryers. The effort shows.

City Barbeque

8491 Sancus Blvd., Polaris