Monday, February 21, 2011

Parky's Smokehouse

It was Valentine’s weekend, and we knew we were having a fancy meal on Monday, so we wanted something a bit more casual for a weekend night out.  We perused “the list” and settled on Parky’s because it was casual, we hadn’t had BBQ in awhile, and it was Saturday, so we could head to the Northside without fighting horrendous traffic. (Or so we thought, Castleton is horrible anyway; it took us like 20 minutes just to get on 465).
When we pulled in, I was surprised how much this place looked like a chain from the outside (and on the inside too). Turns out, it was a former chain location that was taken over and turned into the independent Parky’s.  Everyone was very friendly to us, and our waiter knew the menu inside and out, which I appreciated—he could answer all our questions, and did so very honestly.  But when you are inside, you feel like you could be sitting in almost any mid-range chain in the country. Weird.  But you could certainly tell this was a locally owned place once you looked around and noticed one of the owners behind the bar, and all the local advertising on the placemats.
Right away we were brought a basket of dinner rolls that honestly didn’t look that appealing to me, but hubby had a bite and assured me they were good.  And they were. They were warm and had a nice yeasty French bread flavor—and they were served with softened butter which is a little touch I always appreciate.  For an appetizer, because recently I was accused of reviewing nachos a lot, and because I never had actually reviewed nachos before, for fun we decided to go with a half order of the pulled pork nachos as a starter ($4.99).  We were also having a hard time negotiating who was going to get what meats on their sampler platters, so this gave us a way to try the pulled pork in one form, while still getting all the other stuff we wanted too.  The nachos were fine.  They had barbequed beans, the pork, their sweet sauce and then the cheese (jack and cheddar), sour cream and a few green onions.  The sweet sauce, which I think is the most popular, was a little sweet for me, and the pulled pork, while having good flavor, was a bit scarce, and a little dry.  The beans added a nice heartiness, although they were also a little on the sweet side which started to get a little overwhelming for me.  We got a half order, and didn’t finish them, but then again, we had a lot of food coming.
I had the two meat combo plate ($10.99)—and I chose dark meat chicken (a quarter chicken) and turkey breast.  The chicken came already cooked in their Bourbon bbq sauce, and I really wanted to try the mustard BBQ sauce as well, but I think it pairs best with a bird, so that is why I also got turkey.   The chicken was really good. The meat was nice and smoky and still very, very tender.  The Bourbon sauce was similar to the regular sauce, but the kick of the liquor took away that sweetness. It had a really nice rich and smoky flavor.  I think the chicken ended up being the best meat we had that night. I would surely get it again.  The turkey came out in slices—not sure why, I was sort of envisioning a hunk of a breast with some skin still on it, but it turned out to be a lot more tender than I thought it would be when I first looked at it.  It didn't have a ton of flavor on its own, but obviously benefited from the sauce.  Unfortunately, although some of my favorite BBQ sauces have been mustard based sauces (I like “Sticky Fingers” in the grocery store), this one was not for me.  It tasted too raw—like just straight up yellow mustard without much else to smooth it out, if you know what I mean.  But I enjoyed dipping the pieces into the extra Bourbon sauce they brought me.  For my sides (you get 2) I had mac and cheese  (a slight up charge) and their “butter browns,” which, apparently, aren’t always available.  The mac and cheese was decent—elbow noodles with a lot of cheese.  I enjoyed it, but it was pretty average.  Now, the “butter browns” were little pieces of heaven.  They were just roasted baker potatoes that were chilled, then cubed and thrown in the fryer and seasoned.  I know, it doesn’t sound like (or look like) much, but they were delicious.  The potato inside was super fluffy and the outside was perfectly crispy. I liked the way each bite had some skin on it, giving it a little extra flavor.  If I went back, and they weren’t available, I’d be bummed. I might even tear up a little.
So hubby had the 2 meat combo plate as well, with the beef brisket and the BBQ ribs (up charge of $4.99).  He enjoyed the ribs—they were served saucy, which he likes and were pretty tender and flavorful from the bite I had.  Not quite fall off the bone tender, but pretty close.  Nice smoky flavor.  While they weren’t his all time favorite ribs in Indy, they were up there near the top.  The brisket was interesting.  It was all shredded up –which is not what I was expecting.  It certainly had the slow cooked flavor that is what you expect from slow cooked beef (think stew meat), but it was a little dry and stringy for my taste.  There was certainly a lot of it though.  He had baked beans and coleslaw for sides, neither of which overly impressed him.  He was happy to help me eat my butter browns though.
They had several desserts, and we chose one of the housemade options—the bread pudding ($5.89).  Pretty sure they were making this with the leftover dinner rolls, which I am totally supportive of, and it was very good.  It also had some raisins worked in giving it some nice chewy bites.  It was nice and rich, and still soft but with the right amount of density, with a lovely praline caramel sauce drizzled across the top and some dollops of whipped cream.  It was certainly enough to share, and still, with all the food we had, we couldn’t manage to finish it.  Although, I would be hard pressed not to order it again.  It was well done.
So this is a place that I can totally see frequenting if you live in the area and you want some decent food and you want to support something local (they also offer a good selection of Indiana beers).  In fact, I have a friend who lives in Lebanon who basically said that to me, they go because it is locally owned, has a good beer selection, moderate prices, and the food is pretty good.  I would totally agree with that.  I am not sure I would drive the 30-40 minutes just to go there, but would certainly go again if I were in the area.  And I’d get the chicken, and those potatoes….
Parky’s Smokehouse
2479 Lebanon Road
Lebanon, IN  46052

Parky's Smokehouse on Urbanspoon


  1. What is his favorite Rib place in Indy? I've been to a handful and haven't found anything that amazing.


  2. Jarhead, he would say there are no "amazing" places that we have discovered yet (although there are still A LOT of BBQ places we have yet to go to in Indy). But believe it or not, his favorite ribs in town are at Charleston's, which is a small chain with a couple locations in town.

  3. Glad to see you finally reviewing nachos. I want BBQ now…damn you Erin.

  4. Jessica in NoblesvilleFebruary 21, 2011 at 7:42 PM

    Jarhead, the best ribs I've had in town (other than those my husband makes!) are at Famous Dave's on Michigan Rd above 86th. They're a chain based in Minnesota, but the ribs are good, and a great selection of sauces.

  5. So far, I've found Squeeler's in Mooresville (also 86th St & Zionsville Rd) to be the best sit down place. Quality is pretty good, the sauce is award-winning, BBQ beans are great, but sometimes they'll serve ribs that are too dry. I've sent 'em back without problem and gotten really moist ones. The owners cut their teeth on the BBQ circuit and the awards to show for it. Translating that to a restaurant isn't easy, but they do a reasonable job.

    I've yet to find a chain joint that can match a good local place. BBQ is very individualistic and that doesn't translate well to corporate restaurants. I've found Famous Daves to be too generic and lacking in real BBQ slow smoke flavor. Sorry.

    Also, if you can't smell wood smoke in the parking lot, get back in your car.