Since I'd already tried the chopped pork at the South Memphis location of A&R Bar-B-Que, I opted for the rib dinner when I stopped by the Wolfchase-area location on Stage Road for lunch today.
Tucked into the corner of a strip mall, the clean, modern Wolfchase store lacks some of the character of the original location on Elvis Presley Boulevard. The walls are decorated with large, framed pictures of celebrities like Elvis and B.B. King instead of unframed posters of local rappers like Zed Zilla. And the barbecue is cooked in an indoor pit instead of a separate building like the one behind the South Memphis store.
The Wolfchase crew might be using an indoor pit, but they are still getting plenty of smoke. My ribs were pink to the bone and had actually turned red in places from the smoke they'd absorbed. Unfortunately, they were also dry, with a tough outer layer that I had to peel off in places. I'm not talking about the membrane that is commonly found on the back of a rack of ribs, which I frequently pull off and throw away when I eat ribs. I'm talking about the outside of the actual meat itself. I'm not sure if it is a common problem for the store, or if my batch just spent a little too long in the pit. Cooking ribs is a delicate art, since you want the meat to slowly absorb plenty of smoke flavor without overcooking.
The smokey interior meat on the ribs was good, and I'd enjoyed the chopped barbecue I had at the Elvis Presley BLVD location so I'd be willing to try it on a return trip to Wolfchase. Larger cuts like shoulder and butt tend to be a lot more forgiving than narrow racks of ribs. The beans and slaw were both as good, and the portions as generous, as I remembered from the other store. I also ordered the hot barbecue sauce again, and like my experience in South Memphis, it wasn't really hot but it did have a great flavor.
While I was eating I noticed a sign identifying the store's owner as Brian Pollard. Curious, I asked if he was related to the people at Pollard's Bar-B-Que in Whitehaven. The friendly lady working the cash register told me that the owners of the two stores are first cousins, which I found interesting since the two restaurants seem to take very different approaches to preparing their ribs.