Cindy and I went to Memphis one time for my birthday weekend and we really had a great time. We stayed at the new Hampton Inn and Suites at Peabody Place and that was a wonderful place to stay. It was just a block from the legendary Beale Street right in the heart of downtown Memphis.
Of course, friends told me that we had to go to Charlie Vergo's Rendezvous barbecue. The Rendezvous is situated down an alley (Escape Alley, to be exact) just down from the famous Peabody Hotel. You go into the place, down some steps and you're there. It's not much to look at on the inside. Tables are old and the chairs are uncomfortable, but, hey! It's barbecue, not friggin' Charlie Trotter's in Chicago!
Now, for the uninitiated, Memphis style barbecue is a dry rub (see recipe). I sort of like the dry rubs on ribs so I was really interested to try the place.
The Rendezvous has been around for years and they have waiters that have worked there for a long time - some for nearly 40 years! They're all smartly dressed, much too nice for a rib joint. So we order a full order of ribs, figuring that if we're really hungry afterwards we could get some more. So they bring us what they called a full order, but it would have been a half order at many barbecue places I've eaten at.
And the ribs were... OK. Actually, unexcitingly OK. Disappointingly OK. I've made a Memphis Rub before that had more pizazz than what the Rendezvous ribs had. The meat wasn't as tender and flavorful that I thought it would be. And for what you got for $17 bucks, I was really hungry for more. We did get another full order and it was... OK. Not a "knock-your-socks off" experience that I was told to expect. And the place wasn't that busy - it was a Thursday night. The business was brisk, but it wasn't packed, nor was it dead.
We went upstairs after we ate and looked around in the empty party room upstairs. It had a lot of neat old pictures on the walls and we must have spent about 15 minutes just looking around.
Will I go back? I don't know. Maybe. It was sort of expensive for what it was and I wasn't overly impressed with it. It was OK, but I've eaten in many other barbecue joints that were much better. I just thought it was overrated for what it was.