4 Points BBQ and Blues House, like the name suggests, is as much about the music as the 'cue. The riverside Main Street location is easy to spot thanks to its outdoor stage and seating, all fenced in to allow adult beverages. Inside, a much-smaller-than-expected dining area (less than half of the main level) has picnic tables sized for two or four, with framed blues musician photos and caricatures on the walls.
The stripped down menu has five barbecue meats: pork ribs, pulled pork, brisket, turkey and sausage. There's also hotdogs and grilled cheese sandwiches for the kids. And there's also a secret sampler platter: for $21 you get ribs, pulled pork, sliced brisket, smoked turkey and sausage, along with baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad, cornbread and a roll. It's an easy way to navigate the entire barbecue menu in one fell swoop.
While on a mini vacation, I visited 4 Points BBQ for a Sunday dinner with my young bride. This represented our first barbecue joint visit together after she declared her vegetarianism, so I was delighted to learn that 4 Points BBQ has a sampler platter not listed on the regular menu.
There are no appetizers offered as such, which is kind of a shame for a stay-a-while place like this.
Ribs: Two large spareribs were served unsauced, as were all of the
meats. This showed off a bumpy crust that looked like it had a lot of
rub. The flavor of said rub didn't live up to anticipation, but the
texture was still very impressive, with a nice contrast from crispy at the surface to melty further down. Although a probable reheat, the meat
was very moist and yielded easily to the bite. Flavor was on the mild
side, with not much smoke, though it did taste like smoke was involved
in the process.
Sometimes a simple approach works, and that's what I felt here. But these pretty good ribs had the potential to be spectacular on a different day when they might be a little fresher and carry a little more rub and smoke.
Pulled pork: A at first I wasn't sure where the pulled pork was, because the mound of meat on the left of the tray looked more like chicken. It had a light gray color that had neither pink nor crust. The shape was interesting; rather than being chopped or pulled it was essentially one big hunk that had several sub hunks and therefore retained a little more moisture than most would with the no-sauce approach. But it was really only turkey thigh moistness, and a little cold. Flavor was much like the ribs: not much at all.
Brisket: This was easily the best item on the plate—the only one with positives for both flavor and texture, and the only one that I thought was smoked that day and possibly very recently. It had a very fresh feel to it and lots of moisture from hints of fat around the rim. Most of the flavor came from that fat and its liquid residue, along with a tasty crust that was still crispy. Further from the edge, flavor was more understated, but the perfectly tender texture mitigated that and made this brisket very enjoyable. Well above average.
Turkey: If the pulled pork tasted like poultry and had a turkey-like texture, then the turkey tasted a little like pork, or at least like ham, only better. It had far and away the best flavor of any meat on the plate, with an obvious brininess or cure, a pleasingly potent turkey essence and some the effects of smoke despite (you guessed it) not being particularly smoky. Texture was fine from a doneness standpoint, but moistness was painfully lacking. As a side note, I saw a few turkey sandwiches passing by on their way to other tables, and the end-to-end length of the slices easily doubled the bun's diameter. As dry as it was, it still wasn't bad (though below average); on another day this turkey could be something special.
Sausage: A whole link sliced both lengthwise and as cross-sections was ghastly pale, as if it contacted neither smoke nor flame. It reminded me a little of the Phoney Baloney puzzle briefly popular in the 1970s. But it went deeper than that: this sausage had the slimy texture of liverwurst sitting too long in the hot sun. The spices intertwined with it brought light heat and a pleasant flavor, but the flavor of the meat itself was off putting even beyond the texture. Imagine the finest chocolate melted into sour milk, only a sausage version, and that's what this was. So what would this be like on another day? I'll never know, because I'm not going anywhere near it.
All are homemade. Texas is a tomatoey semi-sweet sauce with tiny pieces in it that add character. Carolina is a spicy vinegar mustard that's heavier on the latter and has just enough of the former to keep it runny. Kansas City is predictably molassesy but also syrupy sweet. Memphis is a combination of the first three that doesn't quite work. Maine XXX is a hot sauce that "bites like a copperhead," according to one server. Overall, some decent execution and nice variety without anything being noteworthy.
Cole slaw: Semi crisp cabbage in a gluey condiment with a texture similar to cheap vanilla pudding. I love all expressions and varieties of cole slaw but couldn't get past a few forkfuls of this one.
Baked beans: Homemade tasting beans neither firm nor mushy were buoyed by a liquid probably comprised mostly of barbecue sauce. Decent to good.
Potato salad: Yellow from hard boiled egg, this refreshing rendition also had pickles and celery.
Cornbread: A large, flat block was slightly sweet, slightly savory, slightly dry, slightly old.
The Bottom Line
A mixed bag for sure, 4 Points BBQ is a joint that has the potential to be better than it was on the one night I tried them. Whenever you get a sampler platter, there are bound to be some duds, and 4 Points BBQ certainly didn't disappoint in this regard (pork, sausage). But the one bright spot (brisket) and couple of minor flashes (ribs, turkey) offer hope.
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