The Q Shack
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10822 Providence Road, in the Promenade on Providence. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 am.-7 p.m. Sunday. Prices: $2.29 (cobbler of the day) - $14.99 (full slab of St. Louis cut ribs). All credit cards accepted except Discover. www.theqshack.com; 704-542-5959.
The Q Shack isn't mind-blowing good barbecue, but it'll do in a pinch. And best yet, you won't have to pinch pennies because everything, from the hickory-smoked pulled pork to the St. Louis cut ribs to the beef brisket, is $14.99 or less.
When you're on a budget, there's a certain amount of agonizing when it comes to choosing something from the menu. Can you get what you really want without busting the bank? Having perused Q Shack's Web site before going, I could confidently turn to my dining buddy and say, “Order whatever you want.”
The dreary weather paired with the restaurant's tomato-red walls had me craving the beef brisket chili. If asked to describe the taste of red meat, I'd cite The Q Shack's brisket chili. Chunks of rich, earthy, robust brisket filled a semi-spicy, not too thick soup. If you're worried about spice, say yes to the addition of sour cream, which cools things off a bit.
By choosing the three-meat combo plate I got to sample the pulled pork, brisket and St. Louis-style ribs. The thick strands of pulled pork were elevated with the addition of The Q Shack's house-made sauces. The kicked-up tomato-based sauce laced with chipotle was my favorite. There was also a vinegar-based sauce with a strong hint of garlic.
While the brisket worked for me in the chili, it was rather plain on its own, and the St. Louis ribs weren't particularly meaty. The sides of mac and cheese and coleslaw weren't anything special.
Perhaps The Q Shack should give its hamburgers some billing. The oversized burger with tomatoes, onion and pickles was one of the better burgers I've had in a while. And the blackberry cobbler, chock full of crust and fruit, also fared better.
Had money been no object, I would have tried the smoked chicken sandwich ($5.69), beef sausage ($6.69) or the Cobb salad ($6.99). Owner Dave Weil said general manager Richard Sayles makes the banana pudding ($2.49) from scratch, so I'd put that on my list, too.
Since so much of the menu was within my $25 budget, I got overexcited when ordering and ended up overshooting my target by just a bit, coming in at $28.07 with tax and tip.