Memphis Blues Barbeque House

5317 23 Ave. NW


(also locations in Sherwood Park and Castledowns)

Seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Sundays, noon to 9 p.m.)

Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns

Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns

Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns

Dinner for two excluding drinks and tip: Basic, $25; loaded, $50

The Memphis Blues Barbeque House all-meat platter is a delight for the eyes … and for the wallet.

Five hungry adults looked in awe at the Memphis Feast platter as it made its triumphant arrival to our table in the small chain’s Mill Woods outlet.

Clock-wise around the platter, all nice ‘n’ hot ‘n’ looking so tasty, were BIG portions of various meats – a fine slab of ribs, beef brisket, smoked sausage, rib ends, pulled pork, BBQ chicken, French fries, three pieces of corn bread and, in the centre in four bowls, BBQ pit beans, coleslaw, potato salad and the in-house BBQ dipping sauce.

How much food? We were a party of five hungry adults. We had ordered some starters – a side of collards, a chowder and fine-dusted calamari. But, really, we didn’t need them. The Memphis Feast platter could have fed six. We took home a doggy bag.

And here’s the best news – At $55.95 for the platter, five could be fed for $11.20 each!

But here’s the rub. The meat is good, but about average for a specialty barbecue house – on the same level as a Tony Roma’s or the Smokehouse BBQ on 124 Street. The quality is not close to the two best BBQ places that the Weekly Dish has visited, being Meat in Old Strathcona and Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus on 118 Avenue.

But the price of that platter is tough to beat.

The meat appears to have been smoked on site – there’s a big smoker behind the counter – but it doesn’t quite have that deep, rich, smoky flavour of the best BBQ places. I had to spoon on the BBQ sauce to get a faint version of what I was looking for.

The ribs had all the texture you could ask for – meat almost falling off the bone, nice blend of fat and meat – but not a whole pile of taste. Same thing with the chicken. It looked good, it was moist and steaming with a glistening BBQ surface. But there wasn’t much smoky BBQ flavour. Same thing with the pulled pork, same thing with the rib ends.

Passing the flavour test were the beef brisket slices and the very tasty smoked sausage. The seasoned fries were delicious, but the corn bread, which ought to be a highlight of a Tennessee-style barbecue house, was cold and dry.

Battered calamari fans, the “fire-dusted” Memphis Blues calamari is worth a visit unto its own. The calamari itself is sweet and plump, the batter nice ‘n’ fluffy. The generous dose of jalapeno heat truly hit the spot.

But the collard greens, ordered as a side, were atrocious – soggy, tired, like the tired greens you pull out of the fridge and debate whether it belongs in the soup pot or the compost pail.

The pecan pie was okay, but if it was made on-site it wasn’t showing a whole pile of freshness.

Memphis Blues has three franchises in Metro Edmonton, in Mill Woods, Sherwood Park and Castledowns. The Mill Woods Memphis Blues Barbeque House, just down 23 Avenue from the Mill Woods Town Centre, is decorated in a Tennessee, hillbilly style – there’s a black and white pix of a young Elvis Presley at a piano. It’s got the faint, pleasing, smoky aroma you’d expect as you walk through the door.

I love the price on the Memphis platter and there’s more than enough to feed a family of six. Memphis Blues has two more super-sized platters ?? the Elvis at $90 and the Priscilla at $180, which must have enough meat to feed an army.

All three Memphis Blues Barbecue Houses are open seven days a week, a big plus when you’re looking for a filling dinner on a Sunday or Monday evening.

It’s not the best BBQ house, but it’s pretty good. Enjoy!