I know. It's a terrible pun. But it accomplishes two things: first, it tells you the most important dish to order at Bitterroot Barbecue, and second, it allows me to tell you that my pun is only as bad as their service. The surly attitude of our waitress descended into being comically bad. We, good natured but hungry, truly laughed as she ignored us, delivered incorrect dishes, and left the table while we were in midsentence talking to her. The insolent and incompetent service is a severe disconnect with the restaurant itself, which is warm and welcoming, designed to bring you to barbecue state of mind.
The adorable faux-rustic, barbecue-inspired décor, with checked tablecloths and metal trays instead of plates, made it easy to like our first dish. The best dish, far and away, from the myriad sampled: the buffalo chicken livers. Not only were these spicy specimens a destination-worthy appetizer, they came with a creamily-dressed salad, a cooling refresher from the livers. The livers stayed crunchy despite their bath in the hot sauce, yet had absorbed plenty of flavor. An innovative take on a classic dish, this elevating and making distinctive the buffalo wing, exactly what Bitterroot aspires to do.
Unfortunately, not all of the menu was as successful as the livers in achieving that goal of Bitterroot's. The meats, mainstay of barbecue cuisine, were hit and miss for a group of four: the step-outside-the-bbq-box pork belly was crisp, with melt-away fat and fall-apart meat, while rib meat held fast to the bone. Chicken was smoky and tender in some spots, dry in others. And the sides, two per order, were across-the-board in need of some of the innovation and skill that went into the buffalo chicken livers.
The redeeming factors, helping us through the mediocre parts of the menu, were the three hot sauce options. Improving, or trying to, on a classic is always dangerous territory, but when it comes to sauces, Bitterroot does it with aplomb. And success. A sweet sauce with apples and Coke, a tangy mustard, or a wallop of peppers in the spicy sauce do a lot to improve upon the meat mistakes. Unfortunately, nothing was available to fix the service mistakes.