The Fare: Texas barbecue and comfort food, like fried chicken, okra and biscuits.>"/>
The Fare: Texas barbecue and comfort food, like fried chicken, okra and biscuits.
The Stop: As I readied myself to leave grey Seattle for tuk tuks and a reporting gig in Cambodia -- and what will most likely be endless amounts of food poisoning as I adjust to Phnom Penh's food -- I realized: What better way to end my stint writing Truck Stop than to hunt down a truck that touts its "Down Home Southern Cooking"?
I brought Jen Chiu, who'll be taking over this column starting next Tuesday, with me on my last truck adventure.
It's not news that good fried chicken is hard to come by in Seattle. When you want to punish your arteries by eating deep-fried, crispy-on-the-outside, moist-in-the-inside wings that make you forget healthy things like kale smoothies or wheat grass shots even exist, there are few places to turn.
That's why Rollin' Q, with its graffiti-like paint job and promise of serving Southern food seemed hopeful.
Texas natives Darrell and Michelle Lowe puttered around with different career paths before opening Rollin' Q earlier this year. Darrell worked as a firefighter and cooked at a few hotels in Texas, and Michelle worked in finance. They realized that cooking was their thing. Now they're set on bringing barbecue to the Emerald City. And they seem serious: They even have a custom wood smoker.
Sure, Rollin' Q's menu, shown on a TV screen, flashes a little too quickly before flipping to a string of campy powerpoint slides -- bound to piss off the impatient. But that's a minor thing. And sure, there's competition in Ezell's of the Central District, which has long been revered for its "Famous Chicken." But for the most part, southern comfort food in the drizzly Emerald city is scarce.
Since Jen was tagging along, I wanted to make it clear to her: there's some awesome food that comes out of these trucks. Producing quality, fancy food is actually possible within closet-sized kitchens. But unfortunately, of all the trucks I've reviewed since my time writing Truck Stop, I'm not so sure that Rollin' Q makes that mark.
Jen and I ordered the gumbo, a side of fried okra, and the fried chicken special, which came with mustard greens, mashed potatoes, and corn bread.
The gumbo, which was generously peppered with sausages, had a subtle kick that seemed one dimensional -- that is, the spiciness wasn't complex. But still, the general consensus was that it was hearty and decent.
Fried chicken, at its best, should sizzle and crackle when torn into. But Rollin' Q's chicken did not. At least it wasn't completely dry, though, which was its saving grace. The mashed potatoes were sparsely seasoned, barely creamy. The cornbread was of the Paula Deen style -- buttery times a thousand.
The fried okra was... fried. And a little bland. It could've benefited from a nice aioli or dipping sauce to add flavor. But the purist side to me thinks that all great food should be able to stand on its own, sans sauces that obfuscate the true flavors.
I hoped that Rollin' Q would be the truck to send me off with a bang, but it wound up being average -- not horrible, but passable at best. This won't be my last encounter with Seattle's food trucks, though. There are just too many new, and exciting ones to ignore.
In the meantime, I'll be building a stomach of steel to prep for the street food of South East Asia.