Mainely Bar-B-Que claims a large space in a no-frills strip mall on US Route 1, about a mile north of the shopping outlets. Outside, there are amusing cartoon pigs painted on the large glass windows and some rusty cooking aparatus to the right of the building. Inside, the frillage dips into negative numbers with mismatched chairs, booths and dirty antiques and knick-knacks everywhere, highlighted by a foosball table that help pass the time while waiting for your order to be assembled. Ironically, there were some old beer taps lying around, but no beer available. Service is over-the-counter.
The Mainely Bar-B-Que menu seems ambitious for an over-the-counter joint. Appetizers include chili with barbecue meats, chicken wings and tenders, soup, two salads and jalapeno poppers. The barbecue options include pork ribs, beef ribs, sweet and hot sausage, shredded pork, beef and chicken. Ribs are available as 1/4, 1/2 and whole slabs; smoked chickens are available as 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and whole birds. Beyond barbecue, the menu features boneless chicken breasts, burgers, dogs and catfish with or without BBQ sauce.
BBQ combinations are available in fixed configurations only, but there's a myriad of permutations for meats and sides quanties. The combos include a few slices of scali bread. Pricing struck me as more than fair.
I stopped in with my young bride on a Sunday afternoon. Usually I avoid visiting new barbecue joints during 4th of July weekend, but I make an exception for a joint in a vacation or tourist area.
This was a quick stop, so we bypassed appetizers.
Ribs: My combo included a quartet of short but plump pork ribs, fully but thinly coated in a bright red sauce. They had a sturdy crust that I hoped would have some heavy rub flavor (it didn't) and would give way to more tender meat beneath (it didn't). I fully expected a reheat going in, but in this case it was in-your-face obvious, with a tough texture in most of the ribs. Flavor was pleasant enough—there was a hint of smoke but more of a grill finish—mostly because of the sauce, which was sweet without being cloying or overly dominant. But even aside from texture, these ribs just seemed old.
Pulled pork: A generous mound had an overly mashed appearance resembling fork-happy tuna salad. The top-most shreds were dry; deeper into the pile lurked a bit of moisture but not nearly enough to go around. Bark, smoke and all-around flavor all came up short, and the pork seemed old too. Tenderness was okay, but it may have been more a byproduct of the mashing than the cooking. Just for fun, I made a mini pork sandwich out of two slices of the scali bread, but one bite was more than enough. The pork seemed old too.
No extra sauces were available for inclusion in the order or out on the counter for sampling. The sauce that covered the ribs was a mostly sweet number that had some good flavor. I'm not sure what sauce was in the pork—either there was too little of it to make an impact or it was a different sauce entirely.
Industrial strength onion rings were a poor man's version the frozen-puffy-chemically rings available at already-poor Burger King. I'm guessing the "fresh cut hand battered rings served with dipping sauce" described on the menu were supplanted by a cheaper product without a corresponding menu update. My requested collard greens mysteriously turned into corn on the cob when I opened the take-out container.
If you're relying on your GPS, you may get lost. Just look for the Domino's pizza on the right side if you're heading north from the outlets.
The Bottom Line
Not good. Maybe I hit Mainely Bar-B-Que on a bad day, but if you're going to be open, you ought to be good. Unfortunately, it wasn't even close to good, at least based on what I tried that day. That they'd be better on another day is certainly possible, but I have no burning desire to find out.
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