C & G's Smokin' Barbecue: Twin Cities' barbecue tour

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People often say we eat with our eyes, but tonight I ate with my nose. About a block and a half away from C & G's Smokin' Barbecue I got a whiff of that wonderful BBQ smoke aroma. By the time I got to the little four table one-year-old restaurant I was hungry as a Fannie Mae for another bailout check.

Gregory Alford (the G of C & G) has been making barbecue ribs for as long as he can remember. He would wheel down a big grill to the edge of his drive way and sell barbecue right out of his Detroit garage. He was working for Chrysler but needed extra money for the rent. I asked him how often he had his little front yard barbecue soirees, and he simply told me, "Whenever the rent was due." I know how his neighbors felt with that wafting scent filling the neighborhood. It was probably like taking money from a Tom Petter's client.

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Now Alford owns, cooks, cleans and does pretty much everything else for his new venture. After getting laid off by the auto giant in 1984 he moved to the Twin Cities, working as an auto mechanic until taking the plunge into the restaurant business last year. He'd never go back.

Alford uses an electric powered wood smoker to which he adds his special twist to the smoke. (He wouldn't share it.) He makes all his sides and sauce on premises and shops around a lot for the best meat. The menu sports some interesting items for a barbecue joint: the Motor City Corned Beef Sandwich, Sunfish, and Hot Water Bread, a family secret where the cornmeal is cooked in boiling water, then formed in to patties and deep fried. State fair, here he comes.

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In only its first year C & G's has some things it does well. The ribs were good, not great, with a nice rub. They need a little sauce but have plenty of smokey flavor. The deep fried okra was spicy and crunchy and very Okra-ey. His sauce will appeal to many, it was a little sweet for me but my kids and wife liked it. I liked the novelty of the Hot Water Bread but they needed salt. The ambience of the little store front shop was fun and I wouldn't mind taking the family there again.
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There are some things Alford can work on. The fries were soggy and bland and the pulled pork sandwich had a slight sour aftertaste that I didn't care for. It's mainly a take-out place so there weren't any plates for dining in.
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If for nothing else, go to C & G's and breathe in the aroma, or even stop in for a taste of the American dream.
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C & G's Barbecue is at 4743 Nicollet Ave. S. and is open 7 days a week.

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