Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Fighting Words About Stubby's Bar-B-Que and its Sauce.
Back in 1952, Richard Stubblefield Sr. started slow smoking pork, beef and chicken over fragrant wood over at 1000 Park Avenue. He was a master of the hickory pit, smoking up ham and ribs, pork butts, briskets and whole chickens. The sauce conjured at the restaurant was sweet, thick and mild and the customers just kept on coming.
Mr. Stubblefield sold out to the Dunkels from New York in 1977. Mr. Dunkel worked for a short while for Coy's Steakhouse, and he got to talking with Stubby and they made a deal. The Dunkels opened a second location in 1978 along Central Avenue just south of Oaklawn Park -- which remains the restaurant's key location today.
Though I dallied over the thoughts of a jumbo shredded beef sandwich, I changed my mind after reading the menu board. Turns out, everything -- and I do mean everything -- is affected by smoke in the place. Not only are the meats smoked in the hickory pit - the potatoes are as well, big red-skinned potatoes used for potato salad and for the gigantic potatoes available for stuffing. The beans, legendary in their own right, come from a big bean pot at the bottom of the pit, which is the beneficiary of the dripping juices from each of the animals whose flesh is smoked there... sadly, this means I cannot eat them, but every other person I know who's endeavored to try Stubby's reminds me of the masterpiece I am missing.
There's also the matter of the quality of the meat. I have been informed that the hams are the pride of Arkansas themselves, right from Petit Jean Meats in Morrilton.
There are three degrees of potato: the smoked pit potato, which comes with butter and sour cream; the stuffed potato, which comes with beef or pork and sauce; and the supreme, which is a potato stuffed with meat and sauce, beans and slaw. I went for the middle and asked for a stuffed potato. I was asked if I'd like one lump of butter or two (one would do, I reasoned) and then I watched as the gentleman behind the counter ripped brisket from one of the husks of meat behind the glass and shoved it inside the potato. Sauce was ladled over the top, and the whole mess was handed to me. I also opted to try a couple of deviled eggs while I was at it.
The sheer heft of the potato became evident to me when I took that plate. It was likely two pounds of potato and meat, far more than I had expected. I was handed a packet of sour cream and sent down the line to the register, where a lovely woman rang me up.
I know Stubby's burned a few years back... in 2007. As sometimes happens in barbecue joints, the fire got away from the pit and ate the place. But the rebuild, from the outside, simply looked as if someone hit rewind and then threw a fresh coat of paint upon the place. There's no real change.
The potato, though, once I managed to break out of my reverie and adequately
But the real surprise was
Stubby's Hik'ry Pit Bar-B-Que
Hot Springs, AR 71913