After a brief break for brunch I'm back on the meat wagon again as the explosion of roast/smoke/barbecue houses continues in San Francisco. This time I'm turning my attention to 4505 Burgers & BBQ, the new brick and mortar location on Divisadero of the popular burger/meat vendor from the Ferry Plaza's Farmers Market.
They've taken over a space that has been at least 3 differently named yet sketchy barbecue joints over the last 15 or so years. It was one of the few places in town with a full fledged smoker which seems to have been a determining factor in taking it over. The inside space is cleaned up and redone but still small. There are about 6 counter seats inside and the rest of the seating is an outside area, something that could be interesting in this windy foggy town so we will see if it eventually becomes covered somehow and heat lamps magically appear, especially if they are going to be open late nights.
The menu is based around a few plate combos, sandwiches or salads with their meats plus 8 sides. In order to try the most this time around I go with the three meat combo plate which includes two sides I can choose and a Parker House roll.
This is beef brisket, pulled chicken, shredded pork shoulder with side of cole slaw, frankaroni (will cover it in a bit), Parker House roll, pickles and onions. Let's start with the meat--it was served roomish temperature to slightly cold, I noticed it immediately after one bite of each. Hmmm...I kind of stared at my plate debating whether to mention this to the food expeditor as I was sitting at one of the inside counter seats and literally facing him as he pulled the plates together. Maybe he saw my look but he asked how everything was and I flat out said the meat was not warm. He said, well they like to let the meat stand after it cooks so it can hold the juices in. And I said I get that but isn't there some way to serve it at least warm? He asked if I wanted them to heat it up and after thinking a minute I just said no, mainly because they'd either have to slap it on a grill, in a pan or god forbid in the microwave and whatever they did at this point would probably just dry it out. I figured I'd just sauce it up with one of the three sauces they have sitting out to choose from. But I'd like to believe there is a happy medium for keeping the juices in and still being able to serve it with some temperature to it as other places don't necessarily have this problem. And I know it wasn't just me, the guy sitting a stool away said to me on his way out that he agreed as his meat was not warm either.
The sweet and thick which is what it says, like a Kansas City type sauce with hints of smoke, what folks think of when they think barbecue sauce. The mustard and vinegar which is sort of a paean to South Carolina barbecue, though it was bit too runny and bitter for me. Then there is something called house white which at best I can equate it to is a runny ranch dressing with pepper and some other not particularly pleasant herbs. I guess thick and sweet it is. As for the meat I guess I liked the brisket the best, some of the tips were a little dry but the main pieces were juicy, tasty and smoky and it didn't necessarily need sauce. The pulled chicken was just dull, I couldn't taste any smoke, seasoning or flavor at all. Plus, well, it was cold. Maybe on a sandwich it's fine but as a meat choice I'd say skip it. The pork shoulder was shredded and already came seasoned and sauce with was not really a mustard sauce more like vinegary red sauce which was just okay, might have been better warm and sadly I ended up with large chunks of burnt edges which were chewy and unappetizing. I'll give the brisket a pass and and just plain pass on their other two meats.
As for the sides, the cole slaw is a mixture of cabbage, carrots, onions, mayo, vinegar and lots and lots and lots of celery salt. The first bite was kind of interesting but successive tastes just became bitter, particularly with the onion celery salt together. For me I just found it inedible and didn't finish it. The Parker House roll I had hopes for but sadly it was hardened and crisp on the outside which I will equate to the pan of them sitting directly underneath the heat lamp until one is needed. I know this because you could clearly see them up there from my seat. I'm not sure butter would have helped--even had it been offered or served with it--which it wasn't. The frankaroni is classic mac and cheese with a cut up 4505 hot dog inside that is then panko crusted and deep fried. This was served hot and crispy and I freakin loved it--by far it was the best thing I had here and to be honest it would be the one thing I would suggest you actually try and that I'd most definitely go back for. Everything else, not so much.
I know 4505 has their fans, I mean folks seem to love their burger to death for some reason, though while I liked it, I didn't get what all the fuss was about--you can read that review here. I'm also sure that no matter what I say here people will seek this place out to try which I think is great as people should support the places they like. For me I've found other places around town that do this same thing a little better and I'll continue to support them. The joys of free markets and opinions. Though if I just happen to be in the hood I'm probably gonna get a frankaroni--everyone needs one of those in their life for sure.