Smacking lips, licking fingers, and using napkin after napkin… or walking out underwhelmed? Urban BBQ just opened its latest location on 575 Richards Valley Road in Ellicott City, joining the already numerous BBQ restaurants in the Columbia and Ellicott City area. Only time will tell how it stacks up against the competition, as it has to go up against established restaurants such as Mission BBQ, Bare Bones Grill and Brewery, and Pig Pickers Bar-B-Que.
When first entering the Linthicum Heights location, the ambiance lacked the southern, country, homey feeling that this patron would expect walking into a BBQ joint. Instead, there was a bar and a line of TVs. Indeed, Ms. Guevara, English intern for Mrs. Schneider agreed, “I originally thought it was a sit down restaurant, but it was actually more ‘fast-foody’.”
Despite that, the cashier and all of the staff were so welcoming and attentive to me that even though the southerness upon entering was missing, their positive attitude and great customer service did remind me of some good southern hospitality. Mrs. Schneider was able to attest to that experience as well: “Even though it was more casual than I expected,” it was “also southern and country.”
After taking a chance to look at the menu, I ended up ordering their “BBQ Plate,” which consisted of beef brisket, collard greens, mashed potatoes with gravy, and cornbread. Overall, the food was okay; not great or special, but definitely not detestable. The collard greens were nice and hot, the mashed potatoes were prepared just right, but the gravy had a funny taste to it.
The meal was going fine until I reached my cold brisket. I returned the meat, and they took it back with no problem. However, it came back only warm, not hot. Hungry, I refrained from sending it back again, even despite the cut being fattier than anticipated.
By then it was time to eat my favorite part of the meal: cornbread. Unfortunately, the cornbread was hard, dry, and lacked flavor; it was also pre-wrapped and did not feel a part of the meal.
Upon walking out of Urban BBQ after my first experience, I felt I could have gotten more bang for my buck. I would consider going back, just not as my first choice, and probably not my second either. Freshman Tiffany Choi noted that “the service wasn’t that fast, I waited like 10-15 minutes.”
However, these other patrons’ food experiences differed significantly from my own. “It was better than I expected,” said Choi. Her chili cheese fries order was “a good combination of ingredients.” Additionally, Mrs. Schneider asserts, “I’ve never had anything bad.”
Ms. Guevara was no exception to positive review, as she commented, “I would recommend this restaurant for people who like BBQ like me. It comes out tasting good, it’s hot…very good for BBQ lovers.”
Overall, Urban BBQ provided a mid-grade experience, resulting in 3.5 stars. Ms. Guevara notes that she prefers Famous Dave’s, but Choi disagrees. She claimed, “The food was good, better than other restaurants.”
As a sidenote, I feel it is important to mention that I became sick after eating here. However, due to others’ positive experiences, I could be swayed to give Urban a second chance to gain back a couple more stars.