I’m a huge fan of pork BBQ type of restaurants, as a pig has to have the most delicious meat of any animal walking or swimming around the globe. While I do have a certain affection for them, and certainly couldn’t slaughter one even though I am a hunter, I just love how they taste. The sweet, succulent taste of pork, especially the pulled variety, is enough to get even my full belly rumbling. In the past few years there’s been a resurgence in BBQ types of places in Northern Virginia, even though the home of this cuisine is either in North Carolina or Tennessee. I won’t pick a winner among those states, other to say that I’ve been to some fine restaurants down there, that have pigs cooking on an actual pit.
Unfortunately Red, Hot,and Blue doesn’t have a pit. This is a chamber where a full pig is roasted over hot coals, for long periods of time. Instead they use a typical oven, which can still lead to some fine choices, but its not an “authentic place.” Those tend to be cheaper, have staff that are a bit gruff, and a guy with a bloody apron. You won’t find that at the Red, Hot, and Blue, as this restaurant is more upscale than those types of establishments. While its not dressy, you aren’t going to walk in with a pair of blue jeans and an a-shirt. Khaki slacks and a polo will be just fine, and I do like their quality of service.
This is exceptional, and I also appreciate their outdoor dining area. You can sit, enjoy a cold one, while watching frustrated commuters stuck on Chain Bridge Road. It certainly beats sitting in traffic, or if you don’t like the outdoors, the inside dining room is comfortable enough. There are a lot of cool pieces of “pig memorabilia”, and even some paintings of these intelligent creatures. It has a southern feel to it, even though your server is most likely an out of state college student from upstate New York. That’s okay as the waitstaff is friendly, funny, and more than willing to go the extra mile to provide excellent service.
My major issue with Red, Hot, and Blue is the lack of a pit. The pulled pork platter, at $14, is a bit expensive. You will get an average sized portion of the pulled pork, which is dry, and lacking in the spicy flavor that’s associated with the “genuine article.” It really is quite bland, and the sandwich bread that they give you, is as cheap as what you could get at a convenience store. Looking for fried okra as a side? Forget about it, even though to their credit they do have sweet potatoes, that are loaded with cinnamon and piles of butter. Their mashed potatoes are tasty enough, and I do like their mac and cheese. Its bright orange, and it will give you more than enough carbs for any exercise routine.
I thought the “Catfish Platter” was average as well. At $15 its a bit more in price, and the fillet size is fairly generous to their credit. While it does have some Old Bay Seasoning and spices, I found it full of bones. There were a few sections where it was overcooked, and I didn’t like the chewy consistency of the front part of the fish. I’m not saying their catfish come from the nearby polluted Potomac River, but I have had better. It just seems to lack any type of distinction, which seems to be a recurring theme among all of their entrees. I’ve had the chance to sample their pork ribs, and I could deliver similar results with my grill at home.
The Red, Hot, and Blue in Fairfax, VA really does try its best to make you happy. Unfortunately, even though their service is exemplary and the place comfortable, the quality of the food isn’t worth the cost. That alone is the main reason for going to a restaurant. It has been at 4150 Chain Bridge Road Fairfax, VA 22030 for years, and I think a lot of this, is due to folks not knowing what real southern barbecue is. If they did, I don’t think this place would be doing the massive amounts of business it handles on the weekend. You could do worse than here, but as for my recommendation, I’d say go to another restaurant for a real pork BBQ experience. If it means driving to North Carolina or Tennessee, its worth the time in the car.