Something ‘new’ in barbecue in South Johnson City

Mystery Diner • Sep 19, 2012 at 3:55 PM

There are times when your Mystery Diner must put more than his digestion and his liver on the line for his readers.

This is one of those times.

Of late, I’ve had my lunch and supper several times at a restaurant located at 2401 S. Roan St. You old-timers among my readers may recall this as the old WETB radio building. Since then, the site has seen a succession of businesses, mostly restaurants, some good and some bad.

It is now the location of LG’s BBQ, Johnson City’s newest barbecue joint, and therein lies my dilemma. This place is really, really new, less-than-two-months new. I normally avoid the really, really new eateries because such places often close just as fast as they open, thus rendering any review of mine worthless.

No, my policy is to let the new place get some age on, get all the “new restaurant” teething problems over, and let ’em get comfortable not just with what they are cooking, but how they are cooking it.

The proprietors of LG’s, Ms. Colleen and Ms. Lynette, are new friends to welcome, both lately come south to seek warmth both in climate and community. Between them, they bring a considerable portion of culinary expertise, and a whole passel of courage. They will need both.

As I’ve said before, ’round here barbecue is like high school football. Folks support and patronize their football team and their barbecue joint with equal fervor. New players in either arena are regarded with a healthy dose of skepticism until they prove themselves .

I am here to tell you that, though LG’s has been open less than two months, the proof is there. My dining partner, myself and our friends have enjoyed LG’s food and quiet family-friendly ambiance. Their menu offers an excellent selection of pulled pork, pork ribs and beef brisket.

The pork comes as a sandwich, either by itself ($3.99) or as a sandwich platter with one side order and a drink ($4.99). If you’re hungry, get the pulled pork as a platter with two sides ($8.99) and have it either made as a large sandwich or with toast on the side.

There is the Pulled Pork Dog, ($6.99 drink included) a hot dog covered in pulled pork with slaw and beans on top or on the side. Caution: unless you want a footwide sauce, slaw and bean-laden smile, I’d use a knife and fork.

LG’s ribs are meaty, lightly smoked and done to a turn. You can get them in the Two Ribs Meal ($8.99) with two sides, toast and drink, or as a Half Rack ($15.99) with the same accompaniments. For those of you with some Fred Flintstone in your family tree, there’s the Whole Rack ($25.99) that comes with three sides and a drink. I’d ask for a stack of napkins and maybe a drop-cloth as well.

Lastly, there’s the Beef Brisket Platter ($10.99) and something new. LG’s does not smoke regular beef brisket, they use corned beef brisket sliced very thin and gently smoked. The result is an unusual taste conjunction, a sort of barbecue-joint-meets-kosher-deli flavor that was both unique and also pleasant.

I had the mustard potato salad and the LG’s beans as sides and approved both, especially the flavor of the potato salad with the smoked corned beef brisket. My partner was very pleased with her sides of slaw and LG’s special Cowboy Beans, a savory mixture of baked beans, lean ground beef and chopped onions in a thick molasses-based sauce.

Once your meal is in front of you, there are several barbecue sauces available for that finishing touch. LG’s Sweet is a thick tomato/molasses-based dark sauce with hints of onion and garlic. It is sweet, but not “lockyour-jaw” sweet. My favorite is LG’s Spicy BBQ Sauce, a mustard and cider vinegar-based sauce with finely ground black pepper added for a nice heat after effect. It is best to let the Spicy Sauce reach room temperature for maximum effect; cold seems to mute its vinegary tang and the pepper after-effect.

I’d heard that LG’s also has Alabama White sauce, a mayonnaise-based sauce that goes well with chicken and lean pork. Being enthralled with the Spicy Sauce this go-around, I’ll try the Alabama Sauce on my next visit.

For those wanting a sweet finish, LG’s has desserts. Its Cinnamon Ice Cream is excellent, especially when you’ve got a big scoop of it melting on top of LG’s homemade apple fritter ($2.99). There are also various cakes and pies, whole or in slices depending upon how much dessert you’ve saved yourself for. LG’s has barbecue to go, by the pound for pork and by the rack for ribs, with sides and fixin’s included.

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