200220LD_BBQ

Helene Ramsdell, a member of The Gazette’s restaurant review team The Four Dishes, ordered this mac and cheese dinner with chicken during a recent visit to LD’s BBQ in East Troy. The generous portion provided her with not only dinner, but also four more meals as leftovers.

EAST TROY

Because we write restaurant reviews, we regularly receive recommendations from friends about places we should check out. LD’s BBQ has come up more than once.

It’s a bit of a jaunt driving to East Troy, but we had to see what all the buzz was about.

This small, local place got its start in a nearby gas station. About a year ago, it moved into its current location. It’s all about the smoke, which you can see (and smell) puffing along behind the building.

The restaurant has a simple, open floor plan with long family-style tables in the center and smaller tables flanking both sides of the dining room. Longhorn cattle skulls adorn the walls, adding to the ambience of a Texas barbecue joint.

The color scheme is bright and inviting with gray walls and red accents, and the tiled floor and pendant lights give the place a modern feel. We were pleasantly surprised that sound didn’t bounce around even with the tiled floors and lack of window coverings, and it was easy to carry on a conversation—even with other diners nearby.

Orders are placed at the counter, so we got in line and contemplated the large menu on the wall. We were actually glad there was a line, as it gave us time to sort out what each of us wanted to order. It also gave Helene and Jennifer a chance to chat with some regular customers who were happy to guide them through the different items.

Unfortunately, we did have a few miscommunications while ordering. Helene’s dish was initially prepared with the wrong meat, and there was a mix-up with my sides. But it all worked itself out in the end.

There isn’t really an “appetizer” section, but when we saw LD’s offered nachos, we thought it would be a good idea to split some. We tried the half-order of McPherson nachos ($6.50) featuring pulled chicken and pulled pork scattered across tortilla chips and topped with shredded and melted cheeses. Very tasty.

I ordered a half-rack of ribs ($13.95), which came with two sides and was plenty for me. The ribs were cut to a manageable size, and they were dry rubbed with a tasty mix of seasonings—not the sloppy, messy ribs that are often hard to handle.

My sides were potato salad and coleslaw, which both were heavy on the mayonnaise—not my favorite choice. By the time I realized I hadn’t gotten the cornbread I ordered, the meal was almost over. I’ll make sure I get some next time I visit.

Helene ordered the mac and cheese dinner ($10.50), which comes with a choice of meat but no sides. This is the only vegetarian item on the menu (if you don’t add the meat), and LD’s does offer a smaller size (just mac and cheese) for $3.85.

Helene’s meat choice was chicken, and she found the meat to be slightly smoky and very tender. The cheese was seasoned with a little heat, and overall it was tasty and filling. It came as such a generous portion that she could have fed a small family with the leftovers she had. She ended up with at least four meals out of it.

Jennifer went with the pulled pork sandwich ($7.95). The pork, piled high on a kaiser roll, was super moist with a great smoky flavor. The sandwich came unadorned, but at each table there were bottles of LD’s three homemade sauces. She actually preferred being able to choose her own sauce and amount.

She opted for the Zippy sauce, which was a bit sweet and had a nice tang without being overly hot. She selected coleslaw as her side but was not a big fan. Like me, she prefers less mayo.

Nikki ordered the Davenport ($21.25), a dinner combination of sliced brisket, two smoked sausages and two sides.

The sausages were her favorite part of the meal. Made with a combination of beef and pork, they had a wonderfully spicy bite. She also ordered the potato salad and coleslaw, welcoming the creaminess in contrast to the bold flavors of her entree.

When I found out LD’s makes its own banana pudding ($2.95), I had to try it. We split one order, and while it was not exactly full of bananas, it was smooth and creamy with a ripe banana taste and a subtle burnt sugar flavor.

Would I drive to East Troy again just for barbecue? Maybe. But for sure the next time I’m heading to or from Milwaukee or the airport, I’d have a hard time not stopping.

The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.

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