The first thing that hit me after I opened the door to Meat was a roar. The words from dozens of conversations melded together into white noise. That was the product of rows of communal seating; you had to raise your voice so the person sitting across from you could hear what you were saying. (Though, since our visit, they’ve added sound panels, so this might make a difference for visitors now.)
Hopefully, they were talking about the food. Let’s face it: While the barbecue craze has taken Edmonton by storm, with a slew of new places promising brisket and ribs and smoked chicken, the truth is you’d still be a bit unsure to show them off if you were hosting a guest from Texas or the Carolinas.
But Meat is of a different standard – something we haven’t seen since Bubba’s BBQ food truck burned down. You order your proteins by the pound or half pound, and sides come in big serving platters or small bowls. They’re served on a tray, and you divvy up the goods.
We went with the Holy Kaaba of barbecue, the brisket, plus some fried chicken and pulled pork.
First, the brisket. It was blackened and crisp on the outside, and wonderfully moist inside. It’s best enjoyed with the deep and rich house-made cherry barbecue sauce that you’ll find on the table. Meanwhile, the pulled pork retained much of the smoke, and my wife and I found it is best enhanced by the tang of the bourbon sauce.
The fried chicken? Moist on the inside. And the sides? I usually hate brussels sprouts. I really do. But the shredded serving was fantastic, like a warm coleslaw. And the creamed corn, with a huge infusion of dill, was comfort food that eastern Europeans may find similar to the creamed vegetable dishes that are part of our heritage.
The Old Fashioned was nicely balanced, with Buffalo Trace bourbon. It had a bit of a mint kick. The bourbon list took up almost a full menu page. The beer list was long. And there was only a faint mention of a house wine. Wine is like, so 2013.