We haven’t done a barbecue revue review around here in a while, have we? I’ve actually covered Walt’s before– well, actually, Kasmira did– but I figured at some point, I’d have to go myself. Our friend Ed suggested Walt’s for the Happy Mouth Supper Club, so we gladly went along.
For background, Terry considers himself something of a barbecue connoisseur, having grown up in rural northeast Alabama, home to places like Dreamland and The Golden Rule. He finds Cincinnati close enough to the South to have some decent barbecue, but nothing like he gets back home. Goodie’s, Pit to Plate, the dearly departed Mr. Pig, and City Barbecue’s pulled pork all are “decent” in his mind. Me? I’m just along for the ride.
Walt’s is located in what appears to be a large barn– high ceilings, tons of kitsch, and tables big enough for an entire logging camp to dine at one time without touching elbows. The staff all wear t-shirts with clever, barbecue related sayings. It’s super kid friendly– lots of crayons and trivia cards are on every table, to keep kids of all ages occupied.
Happy Mouth is usually a trial for any restaurant– and if the restaurant does well, it’s a big compliment. First, there are a lot of us– usually around 12 adults, and depending on the restaurant, some kids. We had three kids with us of varying ages as well. Our server was efficient, prompt, and kept us in refills and barbecue the whole evening, which was quite a feat.
So, Terry and I are huge suckers for pickle chips, so we started out with their version. It was a bit disappointing to discover that the bottom was composed of tortilla chips as filler, but these were probably the best fried pickles we’ve gotten in town– most are spears, generally too moist in the middle, with too much breading– these were lightly battered, thin, a little spicy, and addictive. They were served with a spicy ranch dipping sauce, but the star was definitely the chip itself.
Next up were our entrees– which were large enough to feed a small family. I picked the ribs, remembering that everyone said that the ribs were outstanding at Walt’s, and they were correct. They were falling-apart tender, well seasoned, with a good crust– everything I want in a smoked rib. The sauces, which as Kasmira noted, could not be distinguished from one another, were all good but standard– not too sweet, and also not too tart with vinegar, and just a little spicy– I couldn’t really distinguish the “hot” from the “mild”, but they were all fairly good. My sides were the sweet potato casserole– which is actually really good. It’s mostly the topping of pecans and sugar, and does indeed taste more like dessert than anything else (and there‘s nothing wrong with that in my book). The cornbread was too sweet– I, like Terry, have learned to prefer a less-sweet cornbread, and the cole slaw was unremarkable. I wouldn’t order the coleslaw again. I’d order the ribs and sweet potatoes again in a heartbeat.
Terry got the pulled pork platter, with coleslaw, baked beans, and cornbread. He had similar opinions to mine on both the slaw and the cornbread, and the beans were also unremarkable– I don’t think Terry even finished them. The pulled pork was unremarkable– again, I’ve heard before that this is not their strength, and while certainly edible, it’s not in my top ten pulled pork by any means.
We both skipped dessert– I feel like it was covered with the sweet potato casserole, but others in the group got dessert and enjoyed theirs. If I were to go back (and let’s be honest– we probably will), I’d stick with the ribs and sweet potatoes and skip the rest. All in all, a very good value, particularly with kids in attendance and darn good ribs.