Bubba's Backyard BBQ- Cocoa Beach- 2 Stars
Now, I may just like unsweetened iced tea, and I know that may have some of y'all worked up into a hissy fit and reckon you might like to tan my hide.
Memphis, Kansas City or Texas, any way you cut it, BBQ is as Southern as the day is long. Taking all of this into consideration, I found myself in the parking lot of Bubba's Backyard BBQ in Melbourne the other day. They have quite a history here in Melbourne, even though Bubba is a transplant from New York (relax, no need to get a rope, he came here when a toddler). They started out over two decades ago in a trailer in the Melbourne Flea Market. Knowing all of this, to say I was excited Bubba's popped up on my random restaurant generator would be an understatement.
Entering Bubba's, I was immediately reminded of a game lodge as there were stuffed Bambi heads and antlers adorning the wall. We do like our huntin' in the South, no doubt about it. Noticing the "please seat yourself" sign, my mini-me and I headed towards one of the many empty tables. After seating ourselves we were soon approached and handed menus by our waitress, Michelle. If the deep, dark, black Abyss had a serving staff, I am sure Michelle would be on it as she was one of the most abysmal servers I have ever encountered. She was bland, unpleasant, and projected an overall air of melancholy. We placed an order for a Riblet, brisket, and burnt ends plate along with an order off their "light" menu selections of the pulled chicken, along with sides of moist cornbread, collard greens and mac and cheese ending it all with some banana pudding and peanut butter pie, because you can't get any more Southern than that (I am keeping my FL man card despite my preference for unsweetened tea).
As Miserable Michelle returned with our food I noticed a lack of smells usually associated with down-home Southern BBQ as this place proclaimed. Chalking up my non functioning olfactory system to pollen, I wholeheartedly procured my cutlery and dug into the feast before me. I really should have listened to my nose, "the nose always knows." The Riblet was about as low quality as you can get while still being in the meat category and was devoid of all flavor. It was long overcooked and as such was drier than a funeral drum. The Brisket, while tender as all get out, was also quite devoid of flavor. But, this couldn't be as the menu states it is slow cooked by Bubba himself! Maybe the same reason I couldn't smell anything was affecting my taste buds...hay fever, allergi...wait a minute! I don't have any such condition! Moving on to the Burnt Ends I was hoping for at least some modicum of BBQ flavor as they truly looked scrumptious. Thankfully, looks were not deceiving and the Burnt Ends burst with BBQ flavor in my mouth as they tenderly melted away like so much meat butter on my palate. The pulled chicken, sadly, brought me back to the reality of this little kleptocracy on Lake Washington as they were of the same quality as the riblet and brisket--low. The chicken, like the rest, was devoid of most flavor and was a wee bit on the dry side (think the Mojave).
Now, onto the sides. The moist cornbread was really more like a cornbread casserole. If this only had some flavor, it could have been a real meal saver and a real winner, but alas, it did not and it was not and is not. The collard greens are a Southern specialty and as such come with high expectations. These were average at best. They were not the freshest I have ever had, but they were seasoned fine and added a bit of much-needed flavor to the meal. The mac and cheese, while tasty, was too runny for my liking and was more akin to mac and cheese stew than the childhood favorite we all know and love.
I have to say that for a place that touts itself as homemade, down-home, traditional and all that they were a huge disappointment. Not only is the food bland and tasteless, but my wonderfully helpful server, Melancholy Michelle, refused to box our food. That's right, she refused to place what we didn't eat in boxes for us to take home! While there is no doubt in my mind that my dog is thankful for her failure to perform her job, it ticked me off to no end.
I don't know if Bubba went to Sysco when he expanded from the trailer, or just got lazy, but whatever happened, this place went downhill faster than green grass through a goose. There is a sign hanging in Bubba's with words to the effect that they are "waiting for the season." Well, if this place was any good there would be a line around the block no matter the season. My advice to Bubba? If you can't run with the big dogs, stay under the porch.
The Big Boy says, "For a real taste of Southern BBQ, I know a place in Springfield, IL more authentic than this clown show." #iamthebigboy #bigboydiningout