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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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Sauce on the Side

Friday, June 17, 2011 @ 02:06 PM

036After over a year of writing, I am sure it is no secret to most that I am a HUGE fan of barbecued meats, especially ribs; and I think this might be a trait I inherited from my father, because his favorite meal in the world just happens to be a certain place’s ribs…the place I’m featuring today. I don’t know what it is, but there is just something so enjoyable about the whole rib-eating experience for me. The mess, the sauce, the smoke….not quite sure, but I love it!

That being said, I have tried my fair share of ribs and some of my favorites vary wildly from one another. But one thing is for sure, I am definitely more of a vinegar based sauce fan… “Carolina” style if you will.  This isn’t to say I don’t still enjoy a plate of thickly sauced ribs, but they have to be from the right places…which leads us to our next stop…a place that boasts the phrase “The Ribs King” in its title. 

Montgomery Inn in Montgomery, OH started serving up its now famous ribs in 1951. Little did the owners Matula and Ted Gregory know then that their small family owned restaurant would later grow into three major locations around the Cincinnati area and that their sauce and ribs would find their way into grocery store shelves in 23 states.  Yet, that sauce placed on some ribs for a special one night that caused such a stir they decided they would need to become a menu staple.  Either way, Montgomery Inn has become so popularized in Cincinnati and beyond that many celebrities (sports stars especially) and even President Bush have made many a trip into the restaurant which is evident from the amount of memorabilia they have on the walls.

I grew up hearing about “Ribs King” thanks to my Dad…a native Cincinnatian who LOVES them! We even made a few stops throughout my childhood at a location when visiting where my Dad had grown up, however this was long before blogs existed or I even considered myself a foodie, so I admit I don’t really remember a heck of a lot about the experience.  I just know they are my father’s favorite to this day and since Adam and I were planning a trip to Cincinnati for his birthday, I knew we had to experience them again for Adam for the first time.

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My grandparents still live in the area and we figured since they live in a retirement community without a car, they might enjoy a visit to the Inn, especially since they don’t get to travel out much; and with both of them having lived in Cincinnati for many years, I knew they would enjoy the whole experience (they are BIG fans as well), and did they ever!

I had forewarned Adam that I knew the Montgomery Inn’s sauce is pretty heavy, not like the typical Carolina style sauces or strictly dry rubs he enjoys. I just wanted to prepare him so he could prepare his taste buds before heading in. However, then, I was pleasantly surprised to find that you can ask for your ribs to be left un-sauced (or sauce on the side), so you can determine how much or how little you want on your own (but if you do this, be prepared….you may get a dirty look from you waiter…., just sayin’). 

It didn’t take us long to settle in and place our order. All of us ordered the ribs with our own unique sides; Adam with Mac and Cheese (of course), while I went with their also famous Saratoga-style chips and a salad to start. Hey… this preggo chick was hungry!

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It wasn’t too long before our food arrived, and just before, we were asked if we wanted bibs…we obliged (I mean for picture purposes, you gotta….right!). Bibs in place….we dug in and my grandparents were like two kids in a candy store for sure.

Both Adam and I were glad we had asked for our sauce on the side. It gave us the chance to make sure we liked it before slathering if all over, which it turns out Adam did. He really liked it! I, on the other hand, wasn’t as huge of a fan as I remembered. Still, I kept lightly brushing it on for flavor, but was still glad to not have so much of it clouding the flavor of the ribs themselves….which were pretty tasty.

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Overall, we had a really wonderful evening and I know that my grandparents absolutely loved it.  My grandma, who can’t express herself very well anymore, told us on the way back that she had such a good time. You could tell she had worked out in her mind the whole dinner what she wanted to say; and to share that experience with them alone made the whole thing worth it…right up there with all the PCC culinary adventures combined!

SIGNATURE DISH: Although they have many other dishes on their menu, you can tell with a name like “The Ribs King” what Montgomery Inn is known for, and many people rave about them. So if you are in the Cincinnati area, you would be missing out if you passed up an opportunity to try these famous ribs.

TASTE: Here is where it is hard for me. I may be shunned by my family for my views, or the whole of Cincinnati for that matter…, but I have had better ribs.  However, I will say that if this was one of my only ribs experiences and I lived in the area, I might sing a different tune.  However, due to the wonderful hobby I have taken on with this blog (along with a husband who loves food more than I ever could), I have had the chance to try a plethora of ribs…, and I mean A LOT. So while I still enjoy Montgomery Inn for the nostalgia, I have to admit there are ribs around the country I love much better.  Although Adam might disagree, this is due largely to their sauce, which although has a slight twinge of vinegar, it is not enough for my taste.

AMBIANCE: The feeling of the restaurant is very cool, and when I say that I mean real swanky and upscale-sports-bar like.  If you are into sports you will love looking around and seeing all of the cool memorabilia they have lining the walls.  Adam was able to walk around the main restaurant and look at the back rooms. Also, the interior designer in me really liked the rich woods and low lighting, giving the Inn a very polished feel.

PRICE: At $19.99 for an order or $24.99 for a full slab, I felt their prices while a bit hefty for barbecued meat. However, their name in the area is so popular, I understand they can charge a little more and people will pay it. I just don’t think these particular cuts of pork were worth what we paid.

SERVICE: Our waiter was very attentive, however I found him to be a little on the snotty side.  As I mentioned above, I did get a lovely eye roll when I ordered my sauce on the side and you could tell he just wasn’t overly patient with my grandmother who took a little time to place her order.  I do not fault the Montgomery Inn for this, rather I just chalked it up to that dude’s personality or his attitude that evening.

So while these ribs are not my all-time favorite, they still fulfilled my need for a little ‘Que.  Also, I was so glad we were able to share that time with my grandparents, which elevated the whole experience and will be one I will live with the rest of my life.

Still, I need to look at just the culinary aspects…and with that, I give Montgomery Inn “The Ribs King” 2 1/2 ‘Little Piggies’….and thank them for the lovely evening.

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