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Kale G: After a few week hiatus, we're rested and rarin' to go! Let's get right to it:
The weather has turned warm again, and that means we here at Dining With Plastic Forks could certainly use a trip outside to enjoy the sun. And what’s better for outdoor eating than that culinary delight known as barbecue? And speaking of barbecue, what’s better than Scott Ja-Mamas?
Those in the know are already salivating at the mention of that hallowed name, and those hearing it for the first time are scratching their heads at the pronunciation. A quick history lesson – the ‘Scott’ of Scott Ja-Mamas is referring to the owner and man behind the grill, Scott himself. The ‘Ja-Mamas’ comes from his mother’s barbecue recipes which he faithfully recreates day in and day out in the tiny kitchen in the back. While growing up people kept telling him, “Scott, ja mama’s got the best barbecue!” At least, that’s the legend.
Phil B: This little hole in the wall also has a special place in our hearts at DWPF, as it was where we took our first lunch pictures to send to our coworker that moved to Arkansas (she’s a big fan of Scott Ja-Mamas) She loved the pictures, and we loved the food -- a win-win situation for all. We had so much fun with this that it eventually evolved into DWPF, which is not a bad thing at all.
KG: Now, when we say hole in the wall, we mean it damn near literally this time. The place is tiny, with only two tables, but it’s holding to a rule we seem to be finding true again and again. You see, when we find deities or religious figures, the food tends to be good along with them. And let me tell you, Scott’s may be small, but the place is lousy with religious icons.
PB: The cashier seemed a bit puzzled when we started taking pictures, but quickly got into the spirit of the moment when we explained what we were doing. He even pointed out a few that we had missed.
KG: There were more, but those were the best of the photos. Never have I seen so many of these things in one restaurant before, but judging by the food here, I think more places should follow suit. I’m not a religious man, but if having the Moses action figure watching over my grill would give me results like this I’d plaster my kitchen with ‘em.
PB: I think they even had a pig that was sitting in a buddha-like pose, which is entirely appropriate for a barbecue joint. My vote is for the 1950’s vintage pro wrestling poster next to the Jesus action figure. Those grapplers had a stern, old-testament “I’m gonna smite my enemies’ look about them that pleasantly contrasted with the gaze of Infinite Forgiveness coming from their neighbor. The whole wall is kinda surreal, really.
KG: A quick note, for those making the pilgrimage for the first time. Scott Ja-Mamas is cash only – Scott’s pretty good about it, and there’s a gas station across the street, but have a twenty in your pocket. I’m just saying.
PB: I guess my rubber checks didn’t set well with him. Anyhow, a twenty should more than cover the lunch tab for 2 people, unless you’re having ribs.
KG: We ordered us up a couple of pulled pork sandwiches, medium spicy sauce, and here’s where we hit our first hurdle. We tried to order two sides of their baked beans (a particular delight, which I highly recommend), but they only had one order left at the time. Phil and I realized that given the situation, there was only one reasonable solution in these enlightened and modern times.
We grabbed our plastic forks and engaged in a duel to the death.
PB: En Garde, thou most vile bean-snatcher!
KG: I am sad to say we were evenly matched, and in the end we decided to split the beans instead of letting the food get cold. That’s the problem with duels to the death – they take time.
PB: Yes, it was time to eat. I’ll save my battles for cold beer.
KG: Like I said, they only have two tables in the joint, and it was finally warm out, so Phil had planned ahead and brought the portable picnic table. Yes, Phil has a portable picnic table. Don’t believe me? Here it is:
PB: It’s a beauty, isn’t it? I think the style is post-modern Adirondack. Or, perhaps Iron Range rustic.
KG: Now, I hear some of you out there complaining, “But Kale, that’s the Cuban Station Wagon from the Victor’s 1959 Café Review! That’s not a picnic table!”
PB: Deluxe picnic dining, on a fine spring day. Did I mention that I also have a luxury RV for camping?
KG: That behemoth serves many purposes in its time. Properly settled, Phil and I surveyed our bounty.
PB: Holy Cow – er, Holy Pig, those are huge sandwiches! Incredible value for $4.95, no matter where you’re from.
KG: Good luck eating that with your hands. The meat and sauce are so plentiful that the lower half of that bun is gently dissolving under there. Plus, did you see the beans? They’re chock full of meat and sauce and they’re so thick that my plastic fork stands up straight in them! I’m telling you there is some real good eating on one of them.
PB: I would contend that a plastic fork is the environmentally correct choice in this case, since it would take a truckload of napkins to clean up if you decided to forgo the flatware. This is one messy sandwich.
KG: How do we describe Scott Ja-Mamas?
KG: Fair enough – but that’s scratching the surface. The sauce at Scott’s has plenty of burn, but there’s flavor multiplied by a factor of five in there. Dark, sweet, smoky, and it leaves your mouth tingling after. The pork is perfect – juicy and rich, and, you may have noticed, quite plentiful. And the beans! I have a weak spot for good baked beans, and nobody – I mean NO-body – has beans like Scott’s does. They’re deeper, richer, and more flavorful than anyone else’s I’ve ever had. Most place just make the beans sweet, but Scott layers them under a series of complex flavors – that’s sweet and savory, pulling back and forth across your tongue is equal measures until the only response possible is to have another bite.
PB: Um, what Kale said. His description just made me want to go back there right now.
KG: They toss in a bag of chips when you get a sandwich, nice for cooling down the burn when it gets extreme, and we grabbed a pair of cokes to wash it down with. The whole thing set us back eleven and change, not quite as inexpensive as Lu’s, but damn cheap nonetheless.
PB: Trust us on this: the pork sandwich stands up to anything we have tried in the much-ballyhooed barbecue joints of Kansas City or Memphis. And the beans were definitely worth fighting for, even though we decided to share. This is down-home good eatin’, folks! I give this place a full plastic fork.
Kale G: Scott Ja-Mama’s is a treat, a delight, and an institution. There’s some great Q out there, and Scott’s is amongst the best. Four tines buried under pork, beans, and delicious. Now when are we going back for ribs?