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Country Time BBQ in Sheridan provides some exemplary 'cue

Photos: Exemplary 'Cue! Country Time BBQ in Sheridan

Country Time BBQ in Sheridan provides some exemplary 'cue
Mark Manger
The sausage sandwich with potato salad at baked beans from Country Time BBQ. See more photos: Exemplary 'Cue! Country Time BBQ in Sheridan

Maybe it's because I grew up in Denver rather than St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis or Texas, but I've always been vaguely amused by "best barbecue" claims that are staked to a particular regional style. After all, "barbecue" really just refers to the process of cooking meat over fire, which leaves a lot of room for variation. I don't care if that meat is brisket, hot links or burnt ends, whether it's dry-rubbed, heavily sauced or smoked over pecan wood, whether it's served with a Texas twang or a Carolina drawl. As long as the 'cue is done well, I'm going to be a fan.

Thanks to Denver's proximity to Kansas City, our barbecue is heavily flavored by that town, where meat is pit-smoked and then coated with a sweet, almost candy-like tomato-and-molasses-based sauce. But few barbecue joints are loyal; they mix and match Texas-style brisket in hot sauce with hot links from Louisiana and Carolina pork shoulder in mustard- or vinegar-based sauce — and do mediocre versions of all of them. Adrian Miller is an expert on Kansas City 'cue, a Denver resident certified by the Kansas City Barbecue Society to judge that group's contests. He's not just interested in that particular region, though; he plans to write a book about barbecue traditions, including Colorado's. Turns out this state once had its own barbecue tradition, which got its start with wild game, bison and beef cooked over campfires and eventually came to focus on lamb, pit-roasted at feasts featuring other Colorado staples. But that practice faded about sixty years ago, leaving us to fill the void with barbecue styles from other parts of the country.

And not well.

Lawrence Barkers keeps the home fires burning at Country Time BBQ. When I was finally capable of movement, I called Miller to thank him for his recommendation. It doesn't take a certificate in barbecue judging to recognize that the Barkerses make some exemplary 'cue.
Mark Manger
Lawrence Barkers keeps the home fires burning at Country Time BBQ.

When I was finally capable of movement, I called Miller to thank him for his recommendation. It doesn't take a certificate in barbecue judging to recognize that the Barkerses make some exemplary 'cue.

Location Info

Map

Country Time BBQ

2504 W. Hampden Ave.
Englewood, CO 80110

Category: Restaurant > Barbecue

Region: Southwest Denver Suburbs

Details

Country Time BBQ
Pork sandwich $6
1/2 slab of ribs $12
1/2 chicken $7
1/2 pound beef brisket $7
Cornbread $1.50
2504 West Hampden Avenue, Sheridan
720-404-1916
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday

Miller is always searching for joints that feature well-smoked meat that can stand alone without sauce. He put me on to Country Time BBQ, one of his three favorite joints in the area and one that "isn't trying to be everything to everybody," he says. And owners Lawrence and Jennifer Barkers, no longer wed but still in business together, confirm that they're true to just one style: their own.

"Lawrence used to barbecue all the time for his friends," Jennifer explains. "He made up his recipes; he mixed and matched." Barbecue was his hobby when they were both Kirby vacuum-cleaner representatives, and he started investing in cooking equipment so that he could host big parties and feed the players at Pee Wee football games.

Photos: Exemplary 'Cue! Country Time BBQ in Sheridan

Friends told him over and over again that he should run a barbecue restaurant. And five years ago, after Lawrence nailed his smoking technique — he uses two kinds of wood, but he won't even tell Jennifer what they are — the pair opened up shop in a red-roofed shack in Sheridan. Jennifer contributed a barbecue sauce recipe from her grandmother, who comes from Mississippi, and they started building a takeout and catering business. Last December, Lawrence started hauling his mobile smoker to a spot across from the Jefferson County Courthouse in Golden, where every day he offers everything that Country Time does except for items that need to go in the deep fryer — which, as far as I can tell, just means he can't offer fries there.

On Miller's recommendation, a few weeks ago I stopped by the original shack, which sits under a peeling Country Time BBQ billboard in a weathered strip mall anchored by a liquor store. As I parked, I took in the milk truck full of wood and the black smokers in the lot (a sedan the color of a flamingo was the only other car), and the lingering smell of pit smoke in the air. As I pushed through the door, I was greeted by the sound of a blaring TV. The woman behind the counter — Jennifer, it turned out — smiled and said hello but made no move to adjust the volume, so I shouted my order over it.

As she got to work in the partially visible kitchen, I looked around the red-walled room. There wasn't a chair in the place, although a massive fish tank on one side of the space held one tiny yellow fish, and a counter on the other side looked like it might once have been fronted by stools. It now held a posterboard sign listing "Frequently Asked Questions" along with completely unhelpful answers. "What kind of wood do we use?" "Cooking wood." "How big is a slab of ribs?" "Depends on how big the pig is." "Where are you from?" "The United States."

After a few minutes, Jennifer handed me a Styrofoam container and I headed out to my car parked in the middle of an empty parking lot in the United States to eat my dinner. As I opened the box, I fleetingly wondered if I'd ever be able to get the smell of smoke out of the upholstery — but that thought passed the second I put a bite of brisket in my mouth. The slices of beef had rosy ribbons along the crusted edges and were tender, peppery and deeply infused with throat-stinging smoke. The meat did indeed stand alone, but I don't suffer from sauce snobbery, like Miller. I dipped a hunk of brisket in the thick, tangy, fiery, tomato-y paste that Jennifer had spooned into a cup and was totally addicted — even if I knew I'd pay later with heartburn. (Country Time also makes a mild version of the sauce, which replaces the heat with earthiness.)

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13 comments
lipstickstelittoes@live.com
lipstickstelittoes@live.com

the 2 page story from jayr has to makeyou say hmmmm sounds like another bbq place is a little up set all the other comments are straight to the point good or bad while jayrs is a 1 page story tsk tsk jayr shame on you sound like your green with envy

Laurasaffioti
Laurasaffioti

I hope Westword will review Georgia Boys BBQ in Longmont soon. I am so addicted.

JayR
JayR

We were not impressed. In fact, this BBQ place does not warrant a second visit. In brutal candor, they gave the distinct impression that they really don’t give a damn about providing a quality product. ALL the meat we ordered was burnt, not caramelized, not lightly charred; burnt. We tried the pork and the non-burnt parts were decent. Perhaps overly fatty, but the barbeque flavor was good. The ribs were very disappointing; tough, overly fatty, the opposite of meat falling off the bone, and of course every single one of them was….yes you guessed it, burnt. The brisket flavor was good but it was not even in the neighborhood of tender. We had the non-spicy BBQ sauce and while far from memorable, it was fine. The sandwich bread was a nice hoagie stile roll that was fresh and had a great texture. The slaw and the potato salad were not fresh, nor did they have any appearance of being homemade, Noble-Cisco made perhaps. The corn bread muffins were flavorful, but unnecessarily greasy. The bottoms of each muffin had quarter inch of brown saturated almost congealed grease. The fries were fresh, skin on, thick cut and way above average in taste. The “homemade” peach cobbler was very pedestrian, and even though fresh peaches are still very much in season, they used canned. When the order came up I instinctively started taking inventory of the bags and was told “it’s all there” and then when I inquired about the peach cobbler I was told “whoops!” as she went back to retrieve it. The sides were not placed properly with the entrée’s they were supposed to go with and when we got home we had to trade, until everyone received what they ordered. All of the portions of the entrée’s were beyond generous, they were huge. The servings of the fries and the cobbler were generous. The potato salad and slaw came in small containers. We were the only customers when we ordered (6:30 PM on a Thursday) and one called in to-go order came in for pick up while we were there. I would not have served that substandard meat to my customers. I would have double checked the bags before they went out to make sure everything was in its proper place and that the order was complete. I would have had a genuine attitude with wanting to make people happy with my food, because that’s how good home style BBQ restaurants take care of their customers. Unfortunately Country Time BBQ did not get that memo. Striving to be mediocre is no way to opperate a restaurant.

Kylers234
Kylers234

I have been getting our BBQ here for years and it is the best. We have tried all the chains and they suck compared to this great family owned operation.

Aztmacm
Aztmacm

mmmmm.................bbq! Smokin' Yards BBQ in Idaho Springs is the best I've had in the Denver area.

 
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