Some barbecue chefs believe their meats must be slathered in sauce when they are cooked, and once again before they are served.
That's not Roy Slicker's style.
As a director of the National Barbecue Association, Slicker dry-rubs his meats and cooks them “low and slow” — that is, very slowly and at a low temperature — in an authentic Texas-style pit barbecue. The sauce, if desired at all, can come later at a diner's discretion.
The formula has lured scores of barbecue aficionados to Slick's Que Co. since it opened on Sisters' main street 15 months ago. And many meat lovers have discovered the pleasures of dry-rub barbecue since Slick's established a second location in Bend on May 26.
“I cook between 200 and 210 degrees,” said the exuberant Slicker, ever a perfectionist. “I'll leave it in the pit for 16 to 18 hours.” For fuel, and to add flavor to the meat while producing heat, he uses hand-chosen Yakima Valley apple wood and pecan wood shipped from Louisiana. “I look for moisture in the wood and sweetness in the bark,” he explained.
The new Slick's has taken over the space previously held by the Bend Fish Co. on Revere Avenue.
Slicker has done a great job renovating a room not formerly known for its style.
Cowboy hats act as shades for light bulbs that hang low over pinewood picnic tables. A flat-screen television plays nonstop Western movies, such as the 1993 classic “Tombstone,” on a wall hung with country-western music posters and Slick family photographs.
The onetime sushi bar has been tastefully converted to a beer bar, with several taps that provide draught beer for thirsty patrons. It's especially busy on Friday evenings, when country and bluegrass artists perform music between 6 and 8 p.m.
A young and friendly staff — headed by general manager Rob Cammelletti, formerly of the Summit Stage & Saloon in downtown Bend — is helpful and efficient.
Place a counter order, and you barely have time to get yourself a soft drink or a beer before your meal is presented at the register.
I don't like everything on Slick's menu. But I do love the pork ribs. A full rack comprised 14 peppery ribs. They were tender, but not so much that the meat fell off the bone.
“In the barbecue connoisseur world, meat is not supposed to fall off the bone,” Slicker once told me. “In competitions, you are disqualified if it does so. That means it's been reheated or overcooked.”
I was confused, however, by the six slices of warm white bread that were served along with the ribs, accompanied by wrapped pats of butter. I would have expected rolls of some sort, possibly lightly toasted or grilled.
Cammelletti explained that bread is a Texas tradition with ribs, and Slicker does his best to follow the barbecue traditions of that state.
I found a two-entree combination plate to be sparse in meat for its price of $14. The Angus beef brisket was tender and tasty, but there were only three slender pieces. Five thin slices of turkey didn't retain a lot of moisture, but it had a rich smoky flavor nicely accented with zesty barbecue sauce, which I added from a condiment bar.
Sausages and brisket
Among other meats dispensed at Slick's, the German-style Meyer's sausage (made only in Elgin, Texas) is superb. The hickory-smoked beef sausages, each about an inch and a quarter across, have a light bite that makes them a favorite of sausage lovers across the country.
Slick's pulled pork is delicious, especially when served as a sandwich and slathered with sauce. The burnt brisket ends are chewy by nature, but again very tasty with sauce.
Of the four principal side dishes offered at the barbecue restaurant, the only one that I find myself craving is the baked beans. Cooked with molasses and bacon, the pinto beans are absolutely mouth-watering.
I've twice had the potato salad, which features coarsely chopped red potatoes, seasoned with rosemary and blended with a light mustard aioli. On both occasions, the potatoes were undercooked, more so the second time than the first. I preferred the garlic mashed potatoes, even though the level of garlic was heavier than I expected.
Slick's coleslaw — simple cabbage and a dash of dill seed — was soupy and more sweet than sour.
Dessert lovers won't go wrong with the Southern-style bread pudding at Slick's. Heated and served with pecan praline ice cream, it is a fine finish to a barbecue dinner.
When the former Marz bistro opens for dinner tonight, it will wear a new face: Gatsby's Brasserie Bar has become Gatsby's Fondue Lounge . Owner and executive chef Gavin McMichael said the restaurant will be the only one in Central Oregon with an international fondue menu, including beef bourguignon entrees and chocolate desserts, with prices of $12 to $18 per person. Open 5 p.m. to close every day; happy hour 5 to 7 p.m. weekdays and all night Saturday and Sunday. Bottles of wine will be half-price on Mondays with entrees. 163 N.W. Minnesota Ave., Bend; 541-389-2025, www.gatsbysbend.com.
Chef Juri Sbandati of Bend's Trattoria Sbandati will visit 5 Fusion and Sushi Bar on Sept. 26 to prepare a five-course dinner. It's a part of the Collaborative Charity Dinner Series offered once or twice monthly at the Asian-fusion restaurant; this one will benefit BendFilm, whose eighth annual season is coming up Oct. 6-9. The cost of $100 includes wine pairings with each course. 821 N.W. Wall St., Bend; 541-323-2328, www.5fusion.com.
Pump House Bar & Grill (B): A country-style establishment with food and service a step above a typical roadhouse, the Pump House is a convenient meal stop between Redmond and Madras. Maragas asparagus chicken is a fine option from the homey menu. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday, 8 a.m. to midnight Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. 8320 N. U.S. Highway 97, Terrebonne; 541-548-4990.
Toomie's Thai Cuisine (B): A pioneer among Thai restaurant in Central Oregon, Toomie's offers bargain lunches, although dinner entrees are overpriced. Service is steady, decor clean and simple, but entree preparation is inconsistent. Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day; dinner 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 119 N.W. Minnesota Ave., Bend; 541-388-5590.
Planker Sandwiches (A-): A career restaurateur opened this top-value, gourmet sandwich shop in May in the former location of a downtown Bend creperie. Patrons order tasty, hearty sandwiches, paninis, crepes, soups and breakfast items from a trio of blackboard menus. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. 824 N.W. Wall St., Bend; www.plankersandwiches.com or 541-317-5717.
El Jimador (A-): A partnership between Baltazar Chavez of Baltazar's and Roberto Anaya of El Caporal has resulted in a fine renovation of a corner restaurant in downtown Bend. Seafood and other dishes are outstanding, even if service slips when the owners are away. Open 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 801 N.W. Wall St., Bend; 541-318-1333.