Blue Ox BBQ Lake Orion MI CLOSED – Blue Ox BBQ has closed. This review of Blue Ox BBQ is going to be one part restaurant analysis and one part comedy. My husband and I are addicted to Food Network Shows and especially love the BBQ episodes where they scour the country looking for rustic, authentic BBQ joints. We always wonder if there’s a great place in Michigan like those crazy places on that show. We enjoy going to Famous Dave’s but realize that Famous Dave’s is more like a chain restaurant. We stumbled upon Blue Ox BBQ in Lake Orion and decided to check it out.
From the initial onset, Blue Ox BBQ is kind of like a small (it couldn’t seat more than 30 people) little hole in the wall that has potential for serving up some great food.
The Blue Ox BBQ menu was quite simple. Meat on a bun (brisket, chicken or pork), and sides (french fries, baked beans, potato, etc.). You pick your meat, and your sandwich is made. When you get your sandwich, it is bare bones. Meat on a bun served on a styrofoam plate. You can add some red onions, jalapeno’s and BBQ sauce. There aren’t many choices at Blue Ox BBQ. They have 1 kind of sauce served two ways. There is mild and hot. Don’t assume that the sauce in the ketchup bottle is ketchup. It’s not labeled, but that’s Blue Ox BBQ hot BBQ sauce. Sadly, we discovered this three quarters of the way through our meal after using way too much of the Blue Ox BBQ mild sauce.
Blue Ox BBQ takes excessive pride that they do their BBQ Texas Style. While a popular thing to do when grilling, adding barbecue sauce when cooking Texas style does not mean slathering it on during cooking. Texans view the sauce as a compliment to great barbecue, so more often than not, the finished meat product is served with the sauce on the side. If the barbecue is done right, the sauce just gets in the way! Although a great concept, I’m not sure many patrons of Blue Ox BBQ will understand this. For instance, I had to dump a lot of sauce on mine and add jalapenos to get it to my liking. If I didn’t like their Blue Ox BBQ special sauce, I was out of luck. At least at Famous Dave’s they have several signature sauces to varying degrees of flavor and spice.
If a meat is cooked Texas style, I would think they also do a great dry rub and the meat is full of powerful flavors. I ordered the pulled pork at Blue Ox, and it was close to flavorless. I had to dump a ton of BBQ sauce on it, and also sprinkle it with jalapenos and onions to give it some taste. But on a positive note, Blue Ox BBQ was definitely the juiciest and most tender pork I have ever eaten.
Our lunch date got even more interesting when an older customer accompanied by his 80 year old mother became baffled by the Texas style BBQ’ing at Blue Ox BBQ Lake Orion. He wanted to treat his mother to a nice BBQ lunch and the occasion turned into a full-fledged argument with Blue Ox BBQ restaurant staff. He basically brought his sandwich back to the counter, set it there and walked away. The Blue Ox BBQ worker asked what was wrong with the sandwich and the customer replied that it was not a BBQ sandwich (just meat on a bun). It did not matter how much the Blue Ox BBQ staff tried to explain that this was Texas style BBQ where the sauce is added after and this was indeed a BBQ sandwich, the customer was disappointed with his meat only sandwich. One member of the Blue Ox BBQ staff even said, “If you want BBQ sauce on your sandwich, I can put it on there right now for you.” The sad thing for the customer was that if he didn’t like his meat sandwich, he had no other choices. Again, only 1 sauce and few menu options. He even asked for a hamburger instead and management challenged him with “hamburgers aren’t BBQ”. Instead of refunding his money or apologizing, they became argumentative!
I know this customer must have been frustrating to deal with, and there may have been moments where the Blue Ox BBQ staff felt offended since they take so much pride in how they prepare their food. But, there comes a point where you have to back off and say “I’m sorry this is not what you expected, let me refund your money.” It doesn’t help matters to continuously try to defend yourself against someone who will never believe you.
The sad part of the whole experience for us was that the Blue Ox BBQ meat actually was good. My husband loved his brisket sandwich and said it would be a great place to go for a simple BBQ lunch while working. They offer a great catering option at Blue Ox that would be perfect for parties. I could completely see this concept working well in a college town outside a football stadium. If the Blue Ox operated as a stand inside Comerica or Ford Field, they’d likely make a killing. As it stands now, if you’re seeking variety for your family beyond meat on a bun, you’re better off at Famous Dave’s. You’ll have many more choices and the staff there would value your needs as a consumer without berating you.
Blue Ox BBQ Lake Orion
179 N. Park Blvd.
Lake Orion, Michigan 48362
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