How do you end a day that started at 13 Coins (at 11 a.m., really!) and then continued on at Safeco Field? By going and getting BBQ of course! After watching the M’s unfortunately waste a good pitching performance, Josh, who is somewhat of a BBQ afficiando (actually it was his idea knowing that I don’t say no to BBQ) and I decided that we would cap a nice guy’s day by making our way to Rainin’ Ribs for, well, ribs!
Rainin’ Ribs is up on Bothell Way, technically in Lake Forest Park, right along Lake Washington. I had driven by it a few times, one time in the summer with the windows down as the smell of smoke and BBQ wafted through the window, and decided that I was going to make it a point to stop in at sometime. The main kitchen is in a small building with a sort of covered picnic area through the door to the left. Josh had been up there a few times and after saying hello to owner (and local basketball star) Skylar Riley, proceeded to place our order. Being that he had been there before, I just went with the “I’ll have what he’s having” approach; especially since it served me well on our trip to Diggity Dog (and Frank’s Oyster and Champagne Parlor). That meant the Half Rack special; a half rack of babyback ribs, Brunswick Stew and Collard Greens (basically you choose the meat and two sides).
We headed out to the patio and found a table where we had a view of the big screen TV so we could catch a little bit of the Stanley Cup Finals. By the time we got the remote figured out, our dinner had made it to the table. I was told that the sauce to have was the voodoo sauce, so we asked for some of that. While waiting, I started in on the Brunswick stew. If you have never had it, I guess the simplest explanation (I’m stealing this) is a BBQ gumbo. It’s this delicious combination of tomatoes, corn, beans, chicken and pork that has been cooked down and served over the top of some white rice. It had this sweet flavor with just a very, very slight hint of smoke. It was excellent. I also had a couple bites of the collards. They were good, but a little too mushy.
While still waiting for our Voodoo sauce to make its way out, I decided to start on the ribs any way. I wanted to try one without anything, and then one with each of the sauces they had. In addition to the Voodoo sauce, there was a house sauce and a R.R. Sweet sauce. They aren’t a dry-rubbed rib like I had in Kansas City, but more of the almost “glazed” type ribs like I had in Austin. With no sauce, the rib was excellent. Perfectly cooked where it comes off the bone when you bite into it. The sauce had a little sweetness to it, definitely more on the mild side, and not a super messy or “gooey” (that’s a technical term) coating. I would have liked maybe just a hint more smokiness to them, but they were definitely good. With the sauces, it seemed that the house sauce was the one that was used in the cooking as it just added a little more to the natural flavor of the ribs. The Sweet sauce was definitely sweet; kind of a brown sugar and honey sweetness. I usually like sweet barbecue sauces (the one I’m working on is a little sweeter), but since there wasn’t as much smoke in the ribs or acidity in the sauce to cut it, it was a bit overwhelming to me. And then, there’s the Voodoo sauce. Hands down, the best of your options. It really utilized the underlying sweetness from the ribs, and added a nice kick to it with chilis. It was a great spicy/sweet balance. Of the 7 ribs I had, four of them I ate with the Voodoo sauce.
After polishing off the pile of food in front of us, we did what anyone would do…ordered dessert and another beer. The choice was banana pudding, though Josh did convince them to let us try on beignet as well. The banana pudding was great. Bananas, Nila wafers, pudding. I mean, it was sweet and creamy. I would have liked my Nila wafters to have a little more crunch than soft as we know I’m a texture snob, but other than that, quite well done. And the beignet was great, and a little different. Rather than the fried round dough and powdered sugar that you would expect, this was more layers of puff pastry put in the fryer, coated with cinnamon and powdered sugar, and served just under the temperature of the sun. It was flaky and messy and delicious. I would have taken a picture but dove in before I remembered…
As expected, it was the perfect capstone to the day. I haven’t been to a lot of the BBQ joints in Seattle (4 by last count), but I will say that Rainin’ Ribs does has the best ribs that I’ve had at any of them. I would even say they were comparable to the ribs I had in Texas (though still a distance from the ribs in Kansas City). I fully intend on taking a long lunch this summer and heading back there for sure to enjoy the views, the weather, and the food. Not bad for a guy that only 5 years ago was knocking down a game winning three in the state playoffs for his high school team.