Saturday, August 27, 2011

Homegrown Smoker Natural Barbecue

(UPDATE 11/8/12: Homegrown Smoker has closed their original cart at SW 4th and College, but their second cart still remains at the Mississippi Marketplace pod.)

(Also read part 2 -- June 2012)

Homegrown Smoker Natural Barbecue is a vegan BBQ food cart located on SW 4th Ave., between College St. and Hall St. A few of their menu items can also be made gluten-free!

As far as hours are concerned, it depends on the time of year:
Mon-Fri, 11 am to 6 pm (April to September)
Mon-Fri, 11 am to 3 pm (October to March)
Saturdays, 12 pm to 4 pm (May to September)

I ordered their combo meal ($8), basically your choosing of two proteins and two sides. I went with tempeh ribs and smoked soy curls for the proteins, and Mac-NoCheese and chipotle slaw for the sides. The combo plate also comes with one piece of their gluten-free cornbread. In fact, everything on my plate was gluten-free.

Menu (as of August 2011)
Combo plate (all gluten-free items)
Tempeh ribs, smoked soy curls, Mac-NoCheese, chipotle slaw, and cornbread
I liked the two proteins I picked. The smoked soy curls and the BBQ sauce were very good, and I really didn't miss the "real stuff." As far as the tempeh ribs are concerned, it was OK, but not mind-blowing. In all fairness, I believe it's virtually impossible to replicate a meaty, succulent rib in boneless, meatless form. A very respectable job here. Again, the BBQ sauce was delicious and will really give the vegetarian/vegan a wonderful BBQ experience.

I also liked the chipotle slaw. I'm guessing vegenaise was used in this one to make the slaw creamy, and the smokiness of the chipotles made me want more of this side dish.

I'm not a huge fan of cornbread, and this version didn't change my tune on that. But hey, it did taste and crumble like cornbread, so a success in that regard.

People on Yelp raved about the Mac-NoCheese, but personally, I didn't like it. First of all, the presentation looked horrible, like it came out of a box. It lacked the bright, rich, creamy, food-porn-worthy gooey look that mac and cheese was meant to be. This Mac-NoCheese lacked the cheese overload appearance (probably using Daiya vegan cheese) and looked like it had been sitting out for hours. It also tasted very bland. I'd suggest a lot more Daiya cheese for starters. Then add some salt, pepper, and some garlic for flavoring. Finally, add some cayenne pepper and paprika for color and heat.

Homegrown Smoker also offers a couple of sauces, such as mango habanero sauce and maple bourbon BBQ sauce. I loved both of them. The sweetness of the mango and the fruity heat from the habanero work well together. Also, the sweet maple syrup and the tangy bourbon pair nicely.

A few successes here (such as the soy curls and the slaw), but I'm not a fan of the Mac-NoCheese or the cornbread. Regardless, I'd consider coming back. After all, this is a much healthier way to enjoy BBQ food. If I can eat BBQ and not feel guilty about it, sign me up!

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