Natural Born Grillers – Southaven, MS – Crash

Natural Born Grillers

Southaven, MS

Walking in to Natural Born Grillers was a little exciting.  As you open the double doors from a Northern Miss strip mall you enter a dining room adorned with giant award checks, dozens and dozens of 6 feet tall championship trophies, a neon juke box filled with great classic rock and shiny booths that look like they belong in a 1950’s diner.

 As you walk to the counter to order, your eyes are drawn to a large sign that reads, “Our goal is to serve you the best BBQ you ever had!  Let us know if we did!”  If your décor is nothing but awards, your location is 15 miles from BBQ Mecca, and you have this quote under your counter…you better bring it.

 

I will admit that I have tasted NBG championship BBQ as I have competed against them a few times on the circuit and I admit that they have a great team and the BBQ that they DON’T turn in because they don’t feel it is championship worthy is still better than 90% of any stuff that you have ever tasted in your life.  However, cooking a great shoulder or butt and trying to mass produce it consistently is two totally different things.

 Knowing what NBG was capable of, I was a little harder on them then some other places, as I had very high expectations.

I must explain some things before I get to the Q review.  I never can decide what to get at a BBQ joint so I have devised a pretty good philosophy that always seems to work.

1. I order for lunch and dinner.  I love ribs but feel like I have to taste shoulder meat as well so I usually get a ½ slab rib plate (it usually comes with 2 sides) and a Jumbo BBQ Sandwich w/ slaw.  If there is anything else that they are known for, I will usually try it as well. (Brunswick Stew, Burgoo, Brisket, Cornish Hen, etc.)

2. I always get Baked Beans and Potato Salad.  To me these are staples of any smoke shack and I just love them.  I like going to eat with others so I can talk them into getting Mac & Cheese, Onion Rings, etc. and letting me try some of theirs.

3. I eat ½ the sandwich, ¼ slab of ribs, ½ of the sides and box the rest up for dinner.  This way I don’t feel so bad about spending $20-$30 just for one meal, although, sometimes I have eaten the entire order in one sitting.  I don’t feel guilty so don’t judge me.

4. If I am with others, I always talk them into a sausage and cheese plate or some BBQ Nachos.  I have an affinity for smoked meats and some sort of cheese…it’s just freaking good.  Again, don’t judge me.

 

So with my game plan in place I was disappointed that they were out of ribs. This was discouraging, not only because it messes up my plan, but also because we were the second table of the day, so I order a Sausage and Cheese plate for the table and go with a BBQ Pork Plate with my old faithful, beans and potato salad, and a Bud Light for myself.

 

The young girl behind the counter hands me my number and I meet my party by the juke box at a booth that had a glass grand champion trophy and 3 squirt bottles, ketchup, regulars sauce, and spicy sauce. While George Thorogood sang a hard rocking drinking song, another girl delivered my beer to me and informed my other two friends that they were out of ice and that their drinks would be a few minutes.

 

I really don’t want to turn this into a restaurant review and focus on nothing but BBQ, but I feel that there were some service issues that directly related to the quality of the food.  I couldn’t tell who was in charge.  Everyone looked like they were in high school (no offence to all of the mybbqblog.com high schoolers out there.  I know you can be productive members of society, but if I own a business you will definitely not be in charge) and no one really seemed to care that there was no ice or ribs.  Again, I know ice has nothing to do with BBQ, but it just seemed like the mentality that they just didn’t care was the precursor for what was to come.

My friends and I discussed Christmas travels and New Year’s Eve stories as Zepplin faded into Tom Petty.   Just as the Rolling Stones’ Street Fighting Man was starting, I could see our food coming from the kitchen.

 

All of our food was brought out at once.  Not a huge deal, but I like my appetizer to be just that, again, not trying to critique the business, but just another sign of no organization.  The table got a pulled chicken sandwich, a pulled pork sandwich and I got the BBQ pork plate, the only thing we were missing were drinks.

 

The sausage and cheese plate was the first thing that drew my attention.  There was a generous portion of sausage and cubed cheddar and jack cheeses, 2 whole Pepperoncini peppers, and a handful of saltine crackers, but it looked as if someone had thrown the sausage into a deep fryer and forgot about it while they went about making the rest of our meal.  I look forward to sausage nectar dripping down my chin at first bite, but the sausage was crispy, dry, and overcooked.  However, being the charitable person I am and trying to turn over a new leaf for the new year, I thought to myself that there was no way that I was going to let this pig die in vain, so out of my love for swine, I dipped his charred remains into the spicy sauce, placed them on a saltine, closed my eyes, said a quick prayer of thanks, and finished my bite with a cheddar cheese chaser.

 

Next, I dove into my pork plate which consisted of pulled pork with just a tad of sauce, (I like this because so often restaurants drown their meat in sauce, but for a purist, I like to taste the tenderness and smokiness of the meat and decide for myself how much sauce it deserves.  Sauce should complement the BBQ, not mask it.) an adequate amount of beans and potato salad and a tasty slice of buttered/grilled Texas toast.

 

The meat was pulled and had a beautiful pinkish hue to it, yet was not very warm.  It tasted very good, but I noticed 2 things.  One, there wasn’t any dry rub anywhere to be found and two, it was a tad mushy.  My friend commented on how moist the pork was, but it leads me to believe that NBG serves whole hog BBQ and that they keep it warm in a steam table.

 

I love whole hog Q, but there is just nothing like that crispy outside meat with a bark of flavor that you can only get from a smaller cut such as a shoulder or butt.  If you have never been to a “pickin” before, the hog is usually injected and smoked in a cooker for a day or so.  The skin hardens and melts the fat which becomes almost like a self basting crock pot.  When the skin is peeled back the pork really just shreds just like a slow cooked pork roast only there is a huge amount of smoke flavor that you can get from cooking over natural wood.

 

The beans and potato salad was a bit disappointing.  My only real pet peeve for any BBQ restaurant is the sides.  If you spend over 12 hours cooking your meat, you could at least spend an hour why the meat is smoking and make homemade sides.  The potato salad came straight out of a tub and the beans were canned baked beans with shredded bits of pork in them that added a hint of smoke flavor.  The beans were alright, but the potato salad was not.

 

The one side that did grab my attention was the rice dressing.  This was a wonderful (almost cajunesque) blend of ground beef, garlic, celery, onion, peppers, mushrooms and rice.  It had a ton of potential but it served luke-warm and had no seasoning.  I ate it, but something as simple as salt and pepper would have gone a long way.

 

I finished my plate by piling up the pork on the Texas toast and squirting a little of the spicy sauce on the pork.  The sauce was good by itself and the pork was good by itself, but the two complimented each other perfectly.  This is a sign of someone that has done BBQ professionally for a long, long time.  This was not two different recipes made because they needed meat and sauce, no, this was a well thought out plan that combined everything that is right with BBQ.  I could taste the years of trial and error and dedication to a craft in each and every bite.

 

All in all, my visit to Natural Born Grillers was average at best.  I hate to even type that sentence as this was not my first time to dine there.  The smoked chicken thighs and the wings are unbelievable.  The two previous visits the table shared the BBQ nachos and the BBQ lovers feast which included 1 slab of ribs, ½ lb of pork, 3 whole chicken wings, 3 chicken thighs, and 4 sides, but I wasn’t blessed with an opportunity to write about it back then.  Do me a favor, though, and try it out for yourself.  I know what they are capable of and I just hit them on a (hopefully) bad day. I, however, will be back with a NBG II review at a later date and time.

 

 

Until then,

 

Love, Peace, and Pork Grease

 

 

 

Natural Born Grillers

662-890-4472

Closed Sundays

 

5960 Getwell Rd

Suite 126

Southaven, MS 38672

 

www.naturalbornbbq.com

6 Responses to “Natural Born Grillers – Southaven, MS – Crash”

  1. on 16 May 2010 at 6:50 pm Norm LaChapelle

    You are a below average writer…I belong on a team called Wasted and Basted.
    NBG are very good friends of ours. Cooking in competition and cooking for the masses
    is totally different.If you are on a team that competes on MIM circuit you know coming
    in the restuarant that it may be a little different than competition BBQ. But for the
    family that wants great BBQ with a great atmosphere this is a great place.I highly
    recommend eating at NBG resturaunt.

    Norm Lachapelle
    Wasted & Basted

  2. on 28 May 2010 at 11:53 am Crash

    Yes, Norm, I do agree that Championship BBQ and Restaurant BBQ are two totally different beasts, as I pointed out in the review. I have tasted their Campionship BBQ and its some of the best I have ever had. However, that doesn’t mean that my restaurant experience was great.

    Yes, I do compete in MIM and actually have hung out with your team an a few occasions, with Ron.

    I am from Partners in Swine and have taken trophys against y’all and have been around to see your team get kicked out a few times.

    I don’t know if you are they guy with a neck size larger than his IQ, but I sure am glad you can read.

  3. on 13 Jun 2010 at 6:13 pm LaMar Chamblee

    I was in your place in Southaven last evening. Four of us each ordered ribs. We were serve our drinks and took our seats. After 45 minutes and no dinner we asked the young lady waht was wrong. After a few minutes she can back and said the were having a problem with the ribs and it would be another 45 minutes or so. They a young man came to our table trying to explain.
    After some time we received our money and left. The young man was very nice and offered a discount the next time we came in. This evening still wanting some of those good ribs my wife returned to Natural Born Grillers for a take out. She placed her order and waited and waited and waited. After about an hour the girl came out and said they were out of beans. So she is still sitting there waiting on beans. This is no way to run a business. I am not a happy customer. Thanks LaMar B. Chamblee

  4. on 06 Sep 2010 at 10:59 am norm LaChapelle

    Crash,

    Why the insults I spoke my opinion and left it like that.

  5. on 10 Sep 2010 at 7:38 pm Crash

    Well Norm,

    I stated my opinion and you insulted me. Pot meet Kettle.

  6. on 15 Nov 2010 at 8:21 am norm LaChapelle

    Ok Bro,come see me this year at MIM and we will have an adult beverage.

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