Big Bob Gibson’s, Randez Vous and Gus’s
Good Faustino holidays in the United States are over. Instead of doing the classic barbecue tour between the various US states he focused on one in particular to try to really know it, eating local specialties every day for lunch and dinner in as many joints as possible to deeply understand what a inhabitant of that area really conceives with the term “barbecue”. His choice fell to Texas, where he fed up with Beef Ribs, Texas Links and of course the legendary Brisket. This experience led him to try the most famous Joint at the side of the lesser known by drawing up a ranking of everything he saw and ate, expressing a vote from 1 to 5.
Unfortunately even fine things end up and after 8 joint visits her experience in Texas can be ended. During the trip that took him to the Lone Star State, however, in order not to miss anything, Fausto has visited 3 authentic meccas, 3 sites that now belong to the legend. Who does not know Big Bob Gibson, the decatur joint in Alabama, which has become world famous for its White Sauce? And who has never heard of the Memphis ribs as a style opposed to the more known Kansas City and the most famous venue to eat them, Randez Vous? It’s not exactly BBQ but Fausto has also gone to try the notorious fried chicken of Gus, now a chain but that has just in Memphis its historic seat, the most famous one. But will the dish that will be found under those signs be up to their myth?
Decatur is not exactly a metropolis and Big Bob Gibson is a not particularly striking structure, located in a recess of the main street. In its simplicity, however, the restaurant is pleasant, it breathes a familiar and welcoming atmosphere. Of course, the setting is more like a restaurant than the rustic but fascinating joints we’ve seen in Texas, with service at table and ceramic dishes but it’s a “lived” place where you can still see the descent of the legendary Big Bob sits next to you during lunch. On the back you can see the wood logs and the trailer that you see to be used by Chris Lilly in all the pictures of the competition he attends and the feeling is to be somewhere between dream and reality.
We are in Alabama and we are by the mythical Big Bob Gibson’s, the place where white sauce has become what it is, how could we not choose the chicken? To this we add a barbecue dish and excluding the Brisket we ate a lot in Texas, between Pork and Ribs we choose the latter. The legend of BBG also tells of famous cakes made fresh every day and among the many we went on the traditional, choosing the lemon pie.
Chicken has certainly been the best thing, juicy and tender with a nice smell of smoke. I was expecting the white sauce to be a bit more thick, instead it is more a seasoning actually. Not a dish for which I rip up my clothes but I liked it. The Ribs, on the other hand, were good but frankly not something that will remain imprinted in me for a long time. The cake was very good but really exaggerated also for American standards: very sweet, intense, something perhaps a European makes it a little hard to get used to. As a whole, BBG’s experience has been positive although I honestly do not know if it is one of those places I would make a deviation to return for.
PORK RIBS: 4
I LIKED: The service was excellent, both for speed and for kindness and availability
I DISLIKED: Perhaps I would have expected to breathe a little more the great history of the venue
Even if we were not far from Memphis downtown, I’ve been afraid: Rendez Vous is in an alleyway of those seen in movies with tubular extensible stairs outside the buildings. The restaurant on the other hand is simple and cute, much larger than you would expect, with plenty of rooms and salons, full of tables with red and white tablecloths. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, with amber glasses and soft lights. Here too it seems to have come out of a movie and we felt right at ease.
There is no table that has not ordered the Ribs and in fact Rendez Vous is famous for being the place to eat the authentic Ribs Memphis Style. The other barbecue classics are also on the menu but are relegated to a generic “Other Good Things” section while the ribs are in the “Main Thing” category. We clearly choose to taste them and given the low weight Brisket and Pork have on the menu, we preferred to match with Ribs the Chicken.
The tool on which the ribs are cooked looks more like a Josper than a smoker and in fact the ribs are conceptually more like our “Rosticciana” than the classic ribs we are used to. However, the taste was very good, even the rub at the end of the cooking style was less invasive than we expected and also had a pleasant Mediterranean feel, perhaps due to the Greek origin of the owner. On the table there was also a sour condiment, probably made from vinegar and lemon in which the ribs were dipped. Rendez Vous’s ribs were something out of the usual patterns but I liked the experience. The chicken was treated in a seemingly similar way both for cooking and spicing, recalling a bit of a roast chicken. This was also good but maybe a little dry.
PORK RIBS: 5
I LIKED: The atmosphere was really cozy and the ribs are something different, which you have to taste at least once
I DISLIKED: Once you enter, the place is cute but the context where it is located is pretty daunting
Gus is in a Memphis area in which we would never have thought of finding a restaurant – an area where there is virtually nothing. The composition of the clientele makes it easy to understand that it is not exactly the most beaten paths of the tourist masses with a large number of lunch break workers still in uniform. Gus is so famous now that it has become a chain and I have already visited several locations but that of memphis is the original one from which everything started and I was anxious to try if it had something different.
Gus’s sign tells “World Famous Fried Chicken” and indeed the Gus chicken is really amazing and every time I come to the United States I never miss a quick visit at the nearest place. The menu is extremely simple: you just have to choose if you want white or dark meat and the number of pieces. The rest are just contours, soft drinks and deserts, and among the first we try fried Okra.
What to say? Simply fantastic. Gus Chicken is unique: a crazy taste, juicy, tender with a crisp and thick crust, both in the White Meat and Dark Meat versions. The fried Okra was also excellent. Coming from Gus is always a great pleasure.
I LIKED: Have I said that the fried chicken was awesome? For the rest it is the most authentic place among all those visited. I guess it to be the one where I really felt less tourist.
I DISLIKED: –
And with these bonus reviews, the Faustino tour really ends. We hope that our experience may have been helpful to you in identifying the highlight of your barbecue tour and we hope to add other tours discovering other historic US barbecue areas in the future.
Thanking you for following the steps of this story, we ask you: Have you ever been by Big Bob Gibson, Rendez Vous and Gus? Do you share Fausto’s review?