Barbecue for breakfast? It was the only choice afforded me with a slew of afternoon meetings on the day’s agenda, so I stopped at Trenton’s Round House BBQ at 9:00 on a February morning and prepared my palette for a wake-up call.
When owner Chris Hancock learned of my interest, he called on the chef to prepare a diverse array of some of the house favorites. What arrived on the table included half a rack of ribs, beef brisket, brisket hash, macaroni and cheese, a beef egg roll, smoked turkey, smoked sausage, and the restaurant’s recently introduced macaroni and cheese egg rolls.
It was an array more generous than I expected and certainly more than I could finish, but I managed several critical bites of each portion, testing for tenderness and flavor in each mouthful.
The menu did not disappoint. I found every piece of meat well-seasoned and tender, Round House’s point of pride and for which they credit their slow smoke process. The brisket in particularly pulled apart easily, smoky but not spicy. Its sauce can’t be found on the table but is provided specifically for the brisket. Likewise, the brisket hash retained its flavor without overpowering the taste buds, a surprisingly welcome dish for an early meal.
Both the ribs and the smoked sausage boasted of the same qualities as the brisket, but I found the smoked turkey most mesmerizing. A healthier alternative to traditional BBQ fare, the smoked turkey rests beneath the restaurant’s house seasoning and salt. Its tenderness rivaled my chef-husband’s Thanksgiving prize, particularly impressive as a piece of white meat.
It’s a wise menu option for those who don’t want to sacrifice a cheat day, and Round House BBQ offers a selection of equally healthy sides to accompany the turkey, including green beans or salad. Lunchtime diners can also try the turkey lunch special, a set of turkey sliders with caramelized onions. Regardless of what form it takes, the smoked turkey offers a welcome alternative for more selective eaters. After all, what Chris describes as “comfort food at its core” doesn’t necessarily need to include a guilt trip.
Yet higher-calorie items, perhaps the real reason to do barbecue right, can make the meal out worth it. Easily the heaviest item on my plate, the beef egg roll is simply shepherd’s pie all rolled up and usually served with beef gravy. It’s filling and heavy, so don’t order it if you’re looking for a lighter meal. Mashed potatoes tended to dominate, but increasing hints of beef and vegetables complemented well as I continued the roll.
Round House’s newest addition, the mac and cheese egg roll, claimed first place. Both the regular macaroni and cheese and the egg roll stem from the same recipe save an extra layer of cheese covering the former, but I found the egg roll softer and creamier, an utterly cheesy delight emerging from a crunchy shell. The roll also comes with a unique bacon-infused ranch dressing for an inviting combination of tastes. Unrestrained by any dough, the regular macaroni and cheese had something of a kick in its aftertaste, likely the final word from a strain of sharp cheddar.
With seats for ninety and another fifteen tables on the patio to encourage summer diners, Round House BBQ has done well for itself since its start in 2008, probably due to its mastery of basic barbecue. According to Chris, more customers eat their meat naked than with a sauce, but the restaurant is prepared anyway, offering everything from Kansas City sauce for ribs, Carolina sauce for pulled pork, and the house original for chicken.
Success, in his words, has come from an ability to “judge what the masses like” and accommodate everyone on the spectrum from the Midwest to the South.
This Midwest taster for one loved it. Come at nine for a hearty breakfast or at lunch for a break on the river, but any barbecue aficionado, amateur or otherwise, will find a treat.
For more information please contact Round House BBQ at 734-671-6100 or visit roundhousebbq.com