For Chuck Baker, BBQ isn’t just a passion it’s his life. Almost literally. Chuck is there in there in the evening putting pork butts in the pit. I can only assume he goes to bed sometime after that. First thing the next day, the butts come off and the ribs go on. Thus begins another day for Chuck. If you’ve ever smoked at home, you know that BBQ is a painstakingly long endeavour. If you’ve ever owned a restaurant (or any business for that matter), you know that it’s life consuming job. Marry the two vocations and it pretty much is your life. Good thing Chuck loves what he does. It shows too. Chuck is cranking out some high quality Q from his little smoke shack just off the square in Lynchburg proper.
Barrel House BBQ is really two separate buildings. The big one is the restaurant. Complete with a kitchen and dining room it even has a small section for souveniers. The smaller building is the smoke house and where pigs go to become delicious.
Chuck makes everything himself. Including the restaurant. He remodeled it and even built some of the furniture. Repurposing spent barrels and such for some thematic tables and chairs. The whole restaurant, as you can imagine, is decked out as much as possible in Jack Daniels.
One of the neatest things at Chucks place is the "Post Cards." Chuck has flipped over some acoustic ceiling tiles and uses them as pseudo post cards. Different tiles for different countries. That’s me in the very top left obviously. As you can tell, this is the Canadian tile.
So let’s have a look at some of what Chuck has to offer.
I should start off by saying that the general feeling among locals is that the meat is top notch while the sauce leave a bit to be desired. My mileage differed as you are about to find out.
There are two house made sauces, both of which are fantastic. The vinegar sauce is really that. Vinegar. It's pumped up with BBQ flavours and hot peppers for a little bite if you like. The other, a thick, slightly chunky sweet sauce that's the complete antithesis of the vinegar sauce. Equally good IMHO. For me though, a 1:1 mix of the two proved awesome. The sweet and tart from the two performed a beautiful balancing act that when used as a dipping sauce for the ribs was perfect.
The Pulled Pork was very tasty although had a bit of a stewed flavour to me. Perhaps it was over steamed in a warming tray. That's one problem with pulled pork is it can lose a lot of it's goodness if it isn't fresh. Not that it loses so much it's not good. Far from it. All in all it's just good solid pigness.
The ribs, dry (aka Memphis Style) were good. Nothing special other than a flavour to them that I couldn't quite place. Mrs. Sippi didn't care for that flavour, I didn't have any opinion one way or another about it. It was just there. Where they did really well is with the sauce. The golden rule is "If the "Q" good, it doesn't need sauce." I'm somewhat in this camp. I can however attest, sometimes the sauce can make it better. This is one of those times. Especially since I'm a sauce guy. As I said above, the two sauces combined were magical with these ribs.
The Tater Salad and Beans were run of the mill if not very solid sides. These didn't jump off my plate as seminal additions however that doesn't mean the weren't very enjoyable. The beans were nicely balance in that they weren't sweet, savoury, spicy, BBQ'y (is that even a word??) or any thing. They were smooth and tasty and there isn't anything wrong with that. Add creamy to the description and that's what you get with the other side here. Just good old BBQ style potato salad. Well done.
So there you have it. Good food in the Mecca for Tennessee Whiskey aficionados.
You can find Barrel House BBQ at