Urban BBQ in Rockville understands Meat Week. They've been doing it for six years now -- a feat that is kind of astounding given that DC Meat Week is only five years old. But they understand that when you go to a Meat Week event, you're not there to eat a plate of just pork, or a plate of just chicken. You're there to eat meat -- all the meat.
As co-owner Lee Howard explained it, the goal for their inaugural Meat Week 2014 event was to get everyone to eat some of everything. So they put together a special: three meats, two sides, and a drink, all for $15. It maintains the illusion of choice while forcing you to bend to Urban BBQ's will. Diabolical...
So it was a lot of meat. But of all the offerings, the stars of the evening were the sausages, which was actually a welcome change to the barbecue tunnel vision that so often makes everything about ribs and pulled pork. Urban BBQ took advantage of the Meat Week kick-off to introduce two new sausages that will appear on their menu: a Sriracha-garlic chicken sausage and an Old Bay kielbasa, both made by Logan Sausage in Alexandria.
Of the two, the Sriracha sausage was the near-unanimous favorite. We're in the middle of a Sriracha fad, or boom, or whatever you want to call it. People on the internet are really *really* into Sriracha these days, for whatever reason. I'm not entirely sure why. It's a fine hot sauce, but not life-changing. Used properly it is capable of great things, and that's what Urban BBQ has accomplished with these chicken sausages. They're wonderfully spiced and the Sriracha kick is right in the sweet spot -- you know it's there, but you're not spending all night putting out mouth fires. The Old Bay kielbasa achieved a similarly effective balance. Old Bay can be overwhelming in small quantities, but the kielbasa had just the right amount of Maryland shore flavor.
With the new specialty sausages out the way, that left Urban BBQ's old stand-by pork sausage, which is tremendous. Smoky and well-spiced, it didn't have the flash or the strong flavors of the specialty sausages, but it was just solidly good.
So that's three sausages down and OH GOD SO MUCH MEAT LEFT. The brisket. It was good brisket. A good piece of brisket, augmented fantastically by Urban BBQ's Carolina Sop barbecue sauce and its throat-chop tanginess. You'd also be perfectly well served by the mustardy "yella" sauce or the ketchup-based red. And then there were the ribs, which were good but definitely the least impressive of the assembled meats. The big old beef rib looked appropriately Flintstonian, but suffered a bit from oversalting. There were sides as well, but going to Meat Week and writing about the sides is sort of like reviewing the gift shop at the Louvre.
But you know what? None of that really matters because hot damn those sausages were something else all together.
Another thing Urban BBQ has going for it is that it's not in DC. It's not even inside the Beltway. This might be a bit of pro-Maryland bias bleeding into my worldview after a year and a half of suburban existence, but for the love of god do yourself a favor and get out of DC proper every once and a while. The Bethesda-Rockville area has a wealth of great restaurants and some of the best Asian and Latin food that you'll find anywhere -- if you're willing to look and you're willing to cross Western Ave.
If you're not, then you're still in luck because lots of the rest of Meat Week DC will be in, uh... DC. You have six more days and no excuse not to eat some of the area's best barbecue, so get on it.