Company 7 BBQ smokes the competition
Almost two years ago, one of my clients from my day job said he was leaving the industry to start a barbecue restaurant with his family. He was a genuinely nice guy, so I wished him the best of luck – all the while thinking, “Opening a restaurant with your in-laws? I’m sure that will work out great.” I don’t take barbecue lightly, and have travelled to other states just to have ribs worth having. I think anyone that labels themselves a connoisseur comes across as a jerk, so I’ll just say I know a thing or two about smoking and grilling meat. While the idea of having a great barbecue joint in Dayton is appealing, I never got my hopes up.
I normally keep my food blogging completely separate from my day job and never speak of it, along the lines of George Costanza’s “Worlds Collide” theory. However, seeing as it would be my last meeting with Patrick Murty as a client, it seemed like an opportune time to tell him that I was anxious for his restaurant to open so I could review it. We kept in touch over the coming months that the 11,000 square foot space his family had purchased was renovated in order to become Company 7 BBQ. They opened in the fall of 2010, but with my family’s busy schedule, it took us until spring to get in and try it out. When reading about their opening, I must have quickly glossed over that whole 11,000 square foot part, because when we got off the freeway I was looking for a hole in the wall – not the sprawling space that the restaurant inhabits right off of I-70 in Englewood. A huge patio, a free community room that seats up to 120 people, restaurant seating for 300 and hold onto your britches – a drive-thru! The place is a Disneyland of meat. The inside vibe is that of a 1920s era firehouse, with lots of wood, brass and plenty of firefighter regalia, including part of a 1929 fire truck that they hauled in to house their full bar. I’ve probably been there half a dozen times and still haven’t seen everything.
Our first trip impressed me, and each subsequent visit has just exceeded the last. On our most recent visit, they had expanded their menu with some additional non-barbecue offerings like more salads, appetizers and seasonal offerings, including cocktails. I can’t remember if it’s stated on the menu, but there are signs at each table along with their house-made sauces apologizing for the inconvenience if they run out of certain entrees. Since most of their meat is slow-smoked for up to 18 hours, when it’s gone, it’s gone. I’ve tried all of their barbecue offerings at this point, and I keep coming back to the pulled pork, turkey and chicken wings. Anyone who knows me or has read my reviews or recipes on Food vs Face in the past knows that the pulled pork is no surprise as a favorite. Chicken wings and turkey on the other hand? Not only do I steer clear of those in any other restaurant, but I don’t even like them enough to make them at home. Both birds go through the same marinating process with butter, garlic and their own Rescue Rub and get smoked over hickory wood. The wings aren’t spun in sauce – after smoking, they’re flash-fried for a few seconds as they’re ordered, which gives them a delicious, super crispy skin that would just be ruined by sitting in sauce. That doesn’t mean you can’t sauce it up once they come to the table, though. Company 7 makes all of their own barbecue sauces – each table totes a well-rounded family of six that encompasses all regional BBQ styles. I actually like to marry Lieutenant Tangy, Chief Smoky and Captain Carolina, if for no other reason than to make regional purists cringe. The smoldering HazMat Spill and low-cal Diabetic Paramedic are available for the asking, too.
The sides at Company 7 are stars in their own right, too, and seem to be improving with each visit we make. All of the entrees come with two sides and a cheddar corn muffin. I’m not sure if the muffins were fresher or the recipe had been tweaked recently, but they were definitely better than I’d remembered. The side items weren’t overlooked when they revamped their menu, with new additions like the Corn Casserole (think a firmer corn pudding in the form of a muffin) and Saratoga Chips – both excellent. My husband ordered the baked beans, which were surprisingly delicious. Surprising only because I hate baked beans. These weren’t sickeningly sweet and had a great balance of flavors with big chunks of smoked bacon. See? Bacon really does make everything better.
I can say without hesitation that Company 7 is the best barbecue in Ohio, and better than a lot that I’ve tasted in the Midwest, South and Carolinas. Even my husband, a former Texan who worships at the altar of Black’s BBQ, agreed that it’s some of the best he’s ever had. Between the consistently friendly service, reasonable prices (less 10 percent if you’re a first responder or military) and outstanding food, they’re a solid 5 out of 5 sporks every time.