A Bee-View of the Drive – Memphis Blues Barbeque House

by admin - August 22nd, 2012.
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If you are staying with us at our Vancouver B&B, the Bee & Thistle Guest House, or just hanging out on the Drive (Commercial Drive, for those of you not familiar with Vancouver), and have a craving for good old barbeque, Memphis Blues at 1342 Commercial Drive is the place for you!   Vegetarians and those interested in fresh veggies, luscious fruits and crispy salads – you can stop reading right now because this restaurant is not for you.  Of course, they do have several salads on their menu, as well as a few side dishes such as collard greens, slaw, potato salad, beans & fries, but these are not the dishes that call out to the world saying “come to Memphis Blues”!  I love how the Vancouver Magazine put it in their review “If you want to prank vegetarian friends, take them to Memphis Blues and remove the blindfolds just as the Priscilla platter ($135.95) hits the table: a glorious, heaping mess of the usual smoked meats (pulled pork, beef brisket, chicken, sausage), along with oysters, catfish, and shrimp. ”

But this restaurant does call out to anyone who loves to lick the bbq sauce off of their elbows as they dig into platters of smoky, falling off the bone, sweet and spicy meat!  Memphis Blues is all about barbeque, and I’m talking HUGE platters of barbeque. They have a fun story of the origins of this barbeque restaurant idea which apparently was one of those random events where a dessert restauranteur and a wine consultant fell in love with a pulled pork sandwich in New Orleans and decided that Vancouver, Canada needed a restaurant that served this wonderful southern food.  Who could argue with that?!  According to their website, they now have six locations in Canada and  they continue to get good reviews, suggesting that this was not a random event but  rather a darned good idea!

When it came time for us to review Memphis Blues, we invited our son to join us because he is a big fan of the whole process of barbeque. His Carolina style bbq sauce converted me from one of those people who says “I can’t stand sweet sauce on my savory sandwich” to begging for a spoon so I could eat the sauce right out of the pot!  Who better to ask for an opinion on the local barbeque joint than someone who has a smoker in his back yard?  We wandered down to Memphis Blues early one evening, bypassing their little patio for a place inside in order to check out the decor – which is casual but fun. The service is also casual, with all orders being taken at the bar, then the food delivered to your table. Not a great hardship as you can check out their drink offerings at the same time as placing your order, and possibly get a peak at what other people are ordering.

It’s totally possible to choose individual meals at Memphis Blues, eg. a slab o’ribs for $26.75, pulled pork dinner for $16.95, 1/2 barbeque chicken for $12.95, etc., all served with corn bread, bbq pit beans, slaw and potato salad or fries. However, the big draw appears to be the “platters”, or should I say “PLATTERS!!”.   So, nothing for it but we had to order a platter, but we modestly ordered the smallest one they serve. It’s called the “Memphis Feast” which includes all of their meats (ribs, brisket, pulled pork, barbeque chicken, rib ends, smoked sausage), as well as the sides listed above, for $45.95.   None of us are delicate eaters but I have to say that this platter was more than any three people should eat in one meal, or even in a whole day! I’m sure we ate our cholesterol quota for a week or two! But it was very tasty and we made a valiant effort – falling just a teeny weenie bit short of eating it all. Of course, it was all washed down with a very nice local brew. Am I noticing a trend here that every meal we have had in our journey up the Drive seems to have included a local brew of some sort!  Well, why not – Vancouver has some great designer beer crafters and what goes better with barbeque than a great beer?!

So, in the end, the purpose  of (or should I say “excuse for”?) our visit to Memphis Blues was to give our guests an idea of the quality of the food and experience of dining in this local neighborhood barbeque restaurant, so I should get around to a comment about those things.  I would love this to be my favorite barbeque restaurant in Vancouver since it’s right around the corner and because it’s in my “neighborhood”. Sadly, I can’t truthfully say that it’s my favorite – but that’s primarily because we have some great barbeque restaurants so there is a lot of competition in the “best barbeque” category, and also because of my discovery that I personally prefer Carolina style barbeque flavors.  However, we really liked eating there – there is something very down to earth and comforting about the heaps of hearty barbequed meat and the starchy sides of fries, potato salad and beans (there must have been a vitamin in there somewhere, but it wasn’t making itself too evident with any vibrant green & yellow veggies we keep hearing about! Oh, yes – the beer has lots of vitamin B, right?).  The atmosphere is relaxed and fun, the staff are friendly and smiling, and the food is hearty and full of flavor.

The reviewers seem to agree with this opinion, with Yelpers giving Memphis Blues 4 stars (though only 3 1/2 for the Commercial Drive location), UrbanSpoon gives the Commercial Drive location 4 stars with 82% of their reviewers “liking” it, and even TripAdvisor gives 4 stars. Our final word –  if you are needing a protein boost with a side of carbs, and are able to shut out your mom’s voice in your head telling you to “eat your vegetables”, do head for Memphis Blues – you will definitely not come away hungry!