Earlier this summer I made a trip back to Denver to watch a baseball game with my dad. He thought it would be a great time to add Ina trip to this barbecue joint he had heard about, and normally I would agree. But I had just started P90X and was determined to stick to the diet…ribs didn’t appear on the list of “approved proteins”. We ended up going somewhere else so i could be a pain and order a burrito with no tortilla or cheese or rice which was ok, but not quite the same. So, when I made the trip back for Thanksgiving, all P90X diet free, we decided to go check out Nordy’s. Apparently he had heard about Nordy’s from a guy at work or something who said that it was as good if not better than Texas BBQ. A statement like that obviously needs a Deck on Food review!
The restaurant is located right off the freeway in Loveland, Colorado, a town about halfway between Denver and Fort Collins. It’s in a big building, reminiscent of a Texas Roadhouse type place. Inside, the smells were those of BBQ, but the look was actually a bit more sports bar. We took our seats and were immediately greeted with bad news…they were out of brisket which is one of the two meats I use for my judging of barbecue (they were also out of pulled pork which is m usual number 3). After a little hemming and hawing and whining, I decided that I would just have to settle for the waitress recommended sausage to go with my ribs as well as “pasta slaw”, cinnamon apples and cornbread.
Of all the things that came to the table on my plate, the ribs are the most important…so I’ll get to them in a minute. While sausage is In no way a substitute for brisket, it was good. A little bit of smokiness and a little bit of spice made for some nice bites. The pasta slaw was ok, being unique in that there were small pieces of pasta mixed in with the cole slaw. Not overly sweet or too much dressing, but no real “wow”. Same with the apples. The cornbread was moist, but simple. For me, I think that the sides were kind of there and nothing to write home about (though my dad did say his beans were arguably the best he’s ever had). But that’s ok because amazing sides are just a nice bonuse. Barbecue is really about two things…ribs and brisket.
Nordy’s rib preparation of choice is a wet rib, described by our server as St. Louis style. It is slowly smoked and topped with a molasses based, sweeter barbecue sauce made in house. In addition to the house sauce, there was a Texas sauce which was a little more savory, a Jalepeno sauce that provided a little kick, and a mustard based sauce that was supposed to be Carolina style. I had four ribs which seemed to be the perfect amount to try each of the sauces, though for the first one I didn’t add anything. It pulled apart easily and had a very nice smoke ring that almost made it look like they were cooked to medium. The pork was very tender, coming clean off the bone, and full of flavor. The sauce definitely accentuated the natural sweetness and balanced out a little of the smokiness of the rib. It didn’t take long to get through that one and move on to the next where I started trying some of the sauces.
Of all of the sauces, the house sauce that they used for the ribs was the best. I liked the jalepeno on the sausage as it just brought out some of the flavors. The Carolina sauce was a little disappointing, mostly because I was expecting a more traditional vinegar based sauce. But none of that really mattered because the ribs were definitely good enough to stand alone without any additional sauce.
The dry ribs at Smokin’ Guns in Kansas City are still easily my favorite ribs that I’ve ever had. But after some careful consideration, I think I would have to put Nordy’s definitely in the top 5, and maybe actually top 3. I think they are neck and neck with Rainin’ Ribs in Seattle, maybe a slight bit better (though the sides at RR are top notch). I would definitely go back for the ribs…hopefully next time they have the brisket or pulled pork as well.
Final Verdict – 4 Stars