Shane's Rib Shack - It's Good to Get Messy!

Well, we're in the south y'all (I can't believe I just typed that, by the way). And down south, BBQ is just about as important as nail salons and grits. Now, I must admit that I am a creature of habit, so when I find something good, I tend to forfeit all others and keep returning to that sweet spot. And oh, what a sweet spot Shane's Rib Shack is!

It's not fancy by any stretch of the imagination - you order at the counter, seat yourself and then go wash up at the basin that's conveniently located right in the dining room. They do bring your food out to you, but for your drinks and your sauce, you're on your own. But that's alright by me, because what they lack in fancy, they make up for in food.

To me, a good pulled pork sandwich can cure just about any ill. Your job driving you crazy? Pulled pork sandwich. Tired of cooking dinner? Pulled pork sandwich. House is a mess? Pulled pork sandwich. Feeling fat? Yes...that's right...pulled pork sandwich. Why? Because when you bite into this melty, juicy, smoky, saucy piece of heaven, your eyes will roll into the back of your head and you'll forget you were ever upset about anything at all!

The "Big Dad" sandwich at Shane's delivers all that and more. Tender, juicy pork is delivered between 2 pieces of buttered Texas toast (for a nice little crisp) and then you're allowed to slather as much of Shane's BBQ sauce on there as you want. Which for me, is an awful lot. I regularly test the limits of the Texas toast with the amount of sauce I drench my sandwich with. There's just something about Shane's sauce that gets me right between the jaws. It's a little bit smoky, a little bit sweet and all too savory delicious. On their website, they claim the recipe is a old family secret, so I guess we'll never know what gives it it's "je ne sais quoi." But whatever it is, it goes all over my sandwich and when I'm done there, it goes all over my fries as well. And sure, you might get some on your fingers, arms or even your shirt. But that's a small price to pay for awesomeness.

Normally, I like my pulled pork to come to my table already coated in the sauce. I've found that at other places where I have to add the sauce myself, the flavor doesn't seem as potent or omnipresent in the sandwich. However, I think Shane's sauce is a bit more watery or slippery if you will, which sounds bad, but is actually good. When the BBQ sauce is too thick, you put it on your sandwich and it stays put. So you'll sometimes get bites with BBQ and some without. I hate that. I want BBQ sauce in EVERY bite. But there's something about Shane's sauce that just seems to permeate the entire sandwich, even though you're adding it on afterwards. And don't get me wrong, sometimes I get halfway through my sandwich and then go back and add more sauce, but it's because it's soooooo yummy. Not because it's not doing its job.

I've been told I also need to try Jim & Milts and Piggy's BBQ, but every time I get a hankerin' for BBQ I can't make myself go anywhere other than Shane's. It's becoming a real problem.

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - B
Taste - A
Presentation - C (But hey, it's BBQ!)
Service - B
Price - $

Restaurant Info:
Shane's Rib Shack
1424 West Tennessee St
Tallahassee FL 32304

Shane's Rib Shack on Urbanspoon

Chef's Sampler - Sunday Feb. 28th

If you're looking for a way to get a taste of more than 50 of the area's top restaurants and caterers, all you need to do is attend the Chef's Sampler this Sunday! Here are all the deets:

25th Annual Chef's Sampler
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Tallahassee Mall
Tickets $50/person

If you're thinking that's a lot of money, I don't blame you. But, I went last year, and believe me - you get a ton of food! Everything from appetizers, soups, tacos, ribs, oysters, sushi, steak, cookies, cake, mousse, chocolate fountains and so much more. Plus, many of the booths offer alcoholic beverages as well - wine, margaritas, champagne, etc. Last year, the likes of Barnacle Bill, Bella Bella, Masa, Andrew's, 101, Soup Swift and Peterbrook Chocolatier were all in attendance. And the best part is that the money benefits the Children's Home Society of Florida. CHS is a non-profit organization that offers various social services that protect children at risk of abuse, neglect or abandonment, strengthen and stabilize families, and find loving homes for children.

Believe you me, I had to be rolled out of there! But, I felt good knowing that my gluttony was for a good cause. I highly recommend checking it out!

Aruba - Culinary Highlights

A few months ago, I posted the first ever Tally Foodie poll on this website. The question was:

I'm traveling to Aruba next month, would you want to hear food reviews from my trip?

While there were 33 votes total submitted, I must say that the results were very tight. Here's how it panned out:

Yes! Do the in-depth reviews like you always do - 14 votes (42%)
Yes, but just a summary with highlights - 10 votes (30%)
No, just stick to the local joints - 9 votes (27%)

And while the in-depth review category was the clear winner, I wouldn't call it an overwhelming majority. So, I've decided just to post some of the highlights - and since it's been a few months since my trip, that's all I can remember anyway! And then, I promise, it's back to Tallahassee restaurant reviews.

The first night of our trip we ventured out to a quaint little place called Madame Jeanette's. While not on the beach, it's not devoid of atmosphere. All the seating is outside (with the exception of the bar), with a rock quarry-like floor, plenty of twinkle lights and a high privacy fence surrounding the area. Waiters are friendly and a great live musician started playing some soft music at 7pm (and in English, no less!).

Everything we had at Madame Jeanette's was delicious, and if we had more time it was the one restaurant I would have loved to return to. Our meal started with an Ahi Tuna appetizer that was absolutely scrumptious. The tuna was fresh, seared rare and served with a curry pepper mayo. I'm telling you - that mayo was ridiculous! And when I say ridiculous, I mean, super duper tasty. I've never had ahi tuna with a dipping sauce like that, but I was blown away by how well it complimented the tuna. Genius. Pure genius.

For our main courses, I ordered the Almond Crusted Jumbo Shrimp in a Red Thai Curry Sauce and hubby ordered the Almond Crusted Grouper in a Lemon Butter Spinach Sauce. Can you tell they like to crust things in almonds? Well, they do. And it was totally worth it. My shrimp were enormous and the sauce was spicy and sweet all at the same time. The rice was also good and sticky and I loved scooping it in the sauce to get some of that extra flavor. You betcha!

Hubby wasn't as enthralled with his dish, but I still thought it was pretty amazing. The fish was moist and the almond crust was crunchy. And while the lemon butter wasn't really an exotic sauce, it was a nice addition to the dish. Hubby kept giving me the "I want more of your food" eyes, which I promptly ignored by sipping my wine. Oh, I'm just kidding, of course I gave him a few bites of my shrimp. But just a few!

Another one of our great meals actually happened right inside of our hotel - at Ruth's Chris Steak House. We started out by sharing the Ruth's Chop Salad, which was phenomenal! They julienne iceberg lettuce, spinach and radicchio, then toss them with mushrooms, green olives, bacon, eggs, hearts of palm, croutons and blue cheese and then top it off with a lemon basil dressing. This salad is like an explosion of flavors in your mouth. The dressing is so tangy and delicious and the ingredients are a perfect blend of crunchy and salty and the whole thing is just absolutely brilliant.

The only thing better were our steaks. Ruth's Chris steaks are seared to perfection at 1800 degrees, topped with fresh butter and brought out to you on a hot plate that continues to cook the meat as you eat it. That means that every single bite - from the first to the last is warm and juicy. Now, don't get me wrong, if you order your steak medium it won't end up well done by the time you're almost finished. I don't know how they do it - but if you order it medium, it stays medium to the very end. It's pretty much spectacular is what it is. Hubby ordered his Filet Mignon straight up, but I just couldn't help getting mine topped with a Blue Cheese Crust. It was a bit extra, but totally worth it.

And then, we topped off our dinner with the Chocolate Explosion dessert - a chocolate cake topped with hot fudge and served with vanilla ice cream. A classic. But still ooey-gooey good. The good news is that Ruth's Chris has plenty of locations here in the US. Closest to us are Jacksonville, Destin and Orlando locations - so if you get the chance, I'd highly recommend checking it out.

Worth just a quick mention, was the Screaming Eagle restaurant. It was an uber-contemporary, hip, moody joint with bed-like areas in the lounge where you can sit back and have a drink. We opted to head straight to our table, and while our entrees were just okay, the highlight of this meal was the Lobster Bisque.

While it looks very unassuming, it was rich, creamy and filled with large chunks of lobster. I can safely say this is the best lobster bisque I've ever had in my life. When I told the waiter, he simply nodded his head and said that the chef decided not to get fancy with it or add anything extraneous - when you stick to the classic recipe and make it well, lobster bisque needs nothing else. I couldn't have said it better myself.

And the last restaurant I'll rave about is Yemanja. It's the only woodfired grill in Aruba, and that preparation style gives the food it's unique flavor. Hubby's dish was really the star here. He ordered the Grouper Boursin - two pieces of grouper stuffed with cheese and then topped with more cheese. I mean, who does that? Incredible.

I couldn't stop stealing bites off his plate - it was savory and melty and moist and oh so stupendously good. I mean, seriously flavorful and richly delectable. Ugh - I wish I could take another bite right now!

Well, that's about it for our quick little jaunt to Aruba. We had a great time soaking up the sun and savoring some of the culinary delights of the island. If you ever get a chance to go, I'd highly recommend doing a Jeep Tour with ABC Tours - they'll take you over rough terrain to the northern parts of the island, which are some of the most beautiful natural vistas you'll ever see.

But for now, it's back to Tallahassee and trying to uncover some of our local restaurant gems. I've got reviews coming up for Shane's Rib Shack, Mr. Roboto and Carl's on the Parkway among others. Stay tuned....and stay hungry!

New York - Joe Allen

While in NY, we also decided to catch a Broadway show - since we've never done that before. West Side Story, in fact, one of my all-time favorite musicals right up there with Grease and Chicago (yeah, I've got a little nerd in me). So we made reservations at Joe Allen, an infamous place among the cast and crew of the Broadway theater gang.

It's a cozy little joint - with posters from past and present shows gracing the walls, random B and C actors and actresses milling about (yes, we saw one or two, but I couldn't put a name with the faces) and a loud, boisterous din permeating the room. The ambiance is informal, and not at all trendy and seemed to harbor a mostly older demographic. But we weren't there for hip, we were there for some good food.

And that's exactly what we got. We started with an appetizer of shrimp cocktail, and while I was a bit worried that the shrimp wouldn't seem fresh - they were pleasantly plump and the sauce had a nice kick to it. I guess being a Florida native now, I'm always a little hesitant to order seafood that far north, lest I be disappointed. But since I didn't have anything to worry about after the app, I went ahead and selected fish for my entree.

I chose a Grouper in a Red Curry and Coconut sauce and Black Rice and hubby selected their signature dish - a Grilled New York Strip Steak with Red Wine Reduction and French Fries. The waiter warned me that the fish would be a bit spicy, but I laughed it off in a "Oh sure, whatever, I can handle the heat" kinda way. But let me tell you - he wasn't a-kiddin'! That fish was like an atom bomb in my mouth. Thank goodness it came with a side of rice because I would have needed to dunk my head in a bucket of milk otherwise. That fish was totally drenched in that sauce so there was really no escaping it. But honestly, it was delightful. So what if I had to blow my nose 3 times while I was eating it? I think the chef would have taken that as a compliment.

I also kept stealing bites of hubby's strip help with the heat...yeah, that's it! It was uber-delicious as well. Moist, perfectly seasoned and complemented by the tangy zip of the red wine reduction sauce, I'm not sure it gets much better than that. I also loved the crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, seasoned with sea salt french fries that they served up next to the steak. No wonder it's their signature dish.

The tragedy this night was reserved for the stage, as our meals were absolute masterpieces. (If you didn't get that reference, crawl out from under your rock and Netflix West Side Story immediately. But be sure to keep a box of tissues on hand. You'll need them!) So if you ever find yourself a few hours away from a Broadway show in New York, make sure you stop by Joe Allen's for an outstanding meal in an understated environment. But be sure to make a reservation!

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - B
Taste - A
Presentation - B
Service - A
Price - $$$

Restaurant Info:
Joe Allen Restaurant
326 West 46th St
New York, NY 10036

Joe Allen on Urbanspoon

About this blog

This blog is dedicated to giving you honest reviews of local restaurants in Tallahassee and the surrounding area. I won't hold any punches, you'll hear about it all - the good, the bad and the (hopefully infrequent) inedible!

This blog was written from July 2009 - August 2010 and is now retired. I currently live in Sarasota, FL...stay tuned for more on my adventures there!