I try to be a leader.
But when it comes to food, I am just a sheep following something shiny.
My latest $10 Challenge at FireFresh BBQ is a prime example of this follower-not-leader phenomenon that only strikes when I’m hungry.
FireFresh’s menu offers a lot of ‘cue. Specifically, a lot of meat. There’s pulled pork, pulled chicken, marinated pork, brisket, rib tips and ribs. Not into ‘cue? Then there’s fish and chicken tenders. You can get your meat on a salad (pulled pork or pulled chicken salad, $6.49; chicken tender salad, $6.99). You can get it on a sandwich, which comes in three sizes – rookie, regular and Big Bruce (starting at $3.49). And there’s enough sampler platters, combos and dinners to satisfy your hunger no matter what time of the day and level of hunger you might have. On top of all this meat, there’s 11 different side dishes that range from green beans to mac and cheese to cinnamon apples. The selection makes it easy for everyone to find something to love.
Conventional wisdom told me to order something, well, barbecued. If there’s a specific food or drink mentioned in the name of a restaurant, it’s wise to order just that (see Hillbilly Tea).
Instead, I did exactly as the customer in front of me — I ordered the chicken tender plate, the special of the day that included tenders, two sides, Texas toast and a drink for $6.99. This dish is one of the few things on FireFresh’s menu that isn’t barbecued, which seems like a bad decision to make at a barbecue joint.
Fortunately, my choice to follow a leader led to a delicious, filling lunch.
When I got back to the office to eat lunch, I opened my container and was greeted with a bounty of skinny fries that hid most of the chicken tenders. I’m usually opposed to such thin fries that demand to be eaten in bunches, but these were spicy and hot, so I quickly forgave their waif-like figures. When I first bit into one of the fries, my eyes widened and I said to no one in particular, “Hel-looo.” They were that good, y’all.
The country coleslaw that was my second side was very creamy as the cashier said it would be. The slaw had a tasty, sweet flavor to it, but the sauce that covered the cabbage was too thick for my taste. Next time, I might try the sweet vinegar coleslaw, which the cashier said is a lot lighter.
The Texas toast had a thick layer of butter in its center that overpowered the bread. This much butter would probably earn the Paula Deen seal of approval, but I could do without it.
Eventually, I got to the chicken tenders buried beneath the fries. The dinner only came with three tenders, but each were thick-cut breast meat that were battered and fried. The tenders were juicy and covered with just a thin coat of batter, a huge improvement from the tenders I’ve had from fast-food restaurants that taste more like flour than chicken. They were just spicy enough to be interesting, but basic enough to please a lot of folks.
My meal came with two to-go containers of the barbecue sauce of my choice, the Sweet and Tangy, in which I dipped the chicken and fries. I can imagine buying a bottle of that stuff and putting it on everything I own.
I was glad that I followed the woman in front of me in ordering the special. I got a lot of food for little money, and for the most part, it was pretty darn good. Others seemed to prefer following, as well – the guy behind me in line ordered the special, too.
Notes about FireFresh BBQ
- The restaurant offers specials throughout the week. Follow them on Twitter to see the daily specials.
- FireFresh sells bottles of their various barbecue sauces in the restaurant.
- If you go to the downtown location, avoid the crowds by visiting closer to 1 p.m. when the lunch crowd begins to thin.
FireFresh BBQ, 211 S. 5th Street, Louisville, Ky. (two other locations at 8610 Dixie Highway, Louisville, Ky. and 81 Jeanie Drive, Shelbyville, Ky.)
- Chicken tender plate with soft drink, seasoned fries, coleslaw and Texas toast: $6.99
- Total (with tax): $7.41