Big House BBQ delivers big portions, flavor
April 2, 2013
By Caleb Heeringa
Restaurant reviews are a regular feature of The Issaquah Press. Reviewers visit restaurants unannounced and pay in full for their meals.
Nutritionists often extoll the virtues of making lunch the largest meal of the day, leaving a person the rest of the afternoon to digest and burn calories.
Big House BBQ isn’t the place for calorie counters, but for those looking to spend their afternoon with a belly full of Memphis-style slow-cooked beef, pork and chicken, a stop by the big red trailer across the street from Home Depot is in order.
As essentially Issaquah’s only recurring mobile food truck, Big House is not much for aesthetics — nor should it be. Three picnic tables, a canvas tent and a modest trailer with the smell of smoked meat wafting out are all that greet the diner.
Owner Neil Goehri, a Sammamish resident, boasts of high-quality, dry-rubbed meats smoked over seasoned Pacific Northwest apple wood and alder. The resulting meat, cooked “low and slow,” is a close approximation of the sort of barbecue you’d find across the South — both in portion size and quality.
The smoking technique is most noticeable in the half-rack of ribs ($14 with two sides). The meat may be drier than some barbecue connoisseurs prefer, but the smoked flavor is well-balanced with the flavorful rub.
As with all barbecue, the key is in the homemade sauces — either mild or hot. Though barbecue sauce makers have a tendency to go off the deep end on the spice factor, Big House’s hot sauce perfectly straddles the line between pain and pleasure.
The baked beans could use a bit of a kick (add in a few dollops of that hot sauce), but come with floating chunks of meat, just as they should. Likewise, the coleslaw, made with poppy seed dressing, was a little bland.
Big House isn’t joking when it calls its baked potatoes “loaded” ($9) — your choice of pulled pork or beef brisket is piled on top of a potato the size of a Nerf football, along with sour cream and chives. Beware — your eyes may be bigger than your stomach.
The bun used on the beef brisket sandwich ($8) was a bit dry and flavorless, undercutting otherwise great meat and barbecue sauce.
Perhaps Big House’s finest achievement is its Rueben sandwich ($9) — the pile of pastrami is eye-popping, the thousand island dressing tastefully applied and the sauerkraut delightfully crunchy. Put together on two pieces of iPad-sized fresh Rye bread and grilled, it’s a must-try for sandwich lovers tired of the same old standards.
The affable, welcoming Goehri has a zest for barbecue and has a dish for just about every meat lover. A few returning customers have caught on and routinely swing by to pick up whole racks of ribs from Big House to bring home to the family for dinner. Big House is only open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday’s, but it’s worth the trip for those who have barbecue on the brain. Goehri also does catering for large parties and other events.
If you go
Big House BBQ
- 22411 S.E. 62nd St., across East Lake Sammamish Parkway from Home Depot
- 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays
- Entrees: $12 to $14
- Sandwiches: $8 to $9