Dining Review: Well-seasoned, tender ribs stand out at One and Only

A full rack of ribs, along with twice-baked potato salad and baked beans served with Texas toast sells for $22.99 at One and Only BBQ.

Photo by Justin Shaw // Buy this photo

A full rack of ribs, along with twice-baked potato salad and baked beans served with Texas toast sells for $22.99 at One and Only BBQ.

One and Only BBQ & More isn't new, but it has come under new ownership in the past few months, which gives it the bona fides it needs to round out a month of reviewing new or revamped barbecue restaurants around town.

By Memphis standards, One and Only is just a babe, anyway. It opened in 2007 at Poplar and Kirby, skirting the Memphis and Germantown border.

As befits its location, the meat served at One and Only is a bit different from the gritty, pit-smoked urban and the heavily smoked rural barbecue of the area. There's smoke, but it's generally light -- and there's plenty of flavor here without that heaviness. This suburban helping of our city's most popular dish is well seasoned, consistent, and, hey, it's a nice little place, to boot.

All-beef kosher Hebrew National hot dogs are available at One and Only, the smoked turkey breast is moist, and the banana pudding is homemade.

Photo by Justin Shaw

All-beef kosher Hebrew National hot dogs are available at One and Only, the smoked turkey breast is moist, and the banana pudding is homemade.

One and Only's new owners took over the restaurant in September and made only minor changes.

Photo by Justin Shaw

One and Only's new owners took over the restaurant in September and made only minor changes.

The ribs are superb at One and Only -- very meaty, very tender, very hearty. They meet the general description of being "very beefy," except, of course, these are quite porky instead.

Oh, of course, there's a lengthy list of the so-called right way to cook ribs and a longer list of ways not to do it. At One and Only, Cookshack box smokers are where it all takes place. This style is familiar to most people who have been around competition barbecue, where not everyone cooks in a rig that looks like a race car or a split 55-gallon drum. Boxes maintain temperature, which is key to producing a consistent product.

New co-owner Alan Katzen credits the former owners with the methods used in the restaurant. One of them, Charles Quarles, has stayed on as a manager and runs the "pit."

"I've been in the restaurant business my whole life," Katzen said. "But I never did anything with Memphis barbecue."

It all started at a poker game. Katzen and longtime friend Joel Banes were in a game one night, and barbecue came up in the table talk. Katzen put forth the notion that if 10 people were asked their favorite barbecue restaurant, there would be seven different answers. It turned out that Katzen's favorite place was also Banes' favorite. They briefly discussed buying One and Only, and the next day, Katzen made calls.

It worked out; the partners assumed control in September and made only minor changes. One that's been popular with customers is the homemade banana pudding that Katzen's wife provides.

"She's making at least 10, sometimes 20 pans of it a week," he said.

It's excellent. She cooks the custard, adds the bananas, whips the meringue -- it's all a labor of love. Vanilla wafers are added right before serving.

Let me also throw a bone to the fried pickles, which are among the crispest I've tried. Treat yourself to a basket.

The pulled pork possesses both good texture and plenty of flavor. The smoked chicken leg quarters are smokier than both the ribs and the shoulder, presumably because the lighter meat takes in the smoke more readily. Sliced smoked turkey breast is very moist, with a light lick of smoke and a nice dash of Cavender's Greek seasoning.

Ah, the Cavender's. Those of us who keep it on hand at home for an all-purpose seasoning are devoted to it. Spotting a bucket of it on the shelves at One and Only was a promising sign, and seeing gallons of Trollinger's barbecue sauce was just too much.

Trollinger's is a very peppery sauce made by the restaurant of the same name in Paris, Tenn. At One and Only, the regular barbecue sauce starts with a Kraft base and builds from there ("Our sauce is not exactly intelligent from an expense perspective," Katzen said). The spicy sauce is about 80 percent regular sauce with 20 percent Trollinger's.

It's a cozy little spot, a nice place for a pretty quick dinner, and the hours are great. Food is available by the pound. One and Only is not, of course, the only place is town for barbecue -- it's one of many.

But it's a solid choice.

-- Jennifer Biggs: (901) 529-5223

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One and Only BBQ & More

Food:

Service:

Atmosphere:

Address: 1779 Kirby Pkwy., No. 1-A

Telephone: (901) 751-3615.

Hours: Open daily 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Reviewer's choices: Ribs, ($10.99 to $22.99 and available as part of a mixed plate for $19.99); smoked turkey ($8.99 for the dinner with two sides); banana pudding ($3.49); fried pickles ($3.99).

Alcohol: None.

Star Ratings

Poor: Zero stars

Good: One star

Very Good: Two stars

Excellent: Three stars

Extraordinary: Four stars

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Comments » 5

susanusps#230026 writes:

I work close to One and Only and ate there about once a week. I loved their food, but was always a little put off by one of the co-owners. He never seemed appreciative of a customer placing an order. I will go back now.

CordovaMaxin writes:

My favorite BBQ place in Memphis...

dcsinheber writes:

I have purchased "take out" from this place twice - ribs, brisket & pork sandwich. The first time food and service were both equally horrible; the second time was worse. New owners with the same "pitmaster" can't help the BBQ. I will not waste my time on this pitiful excuse for a Memphis BBQ joint.

al042453 writes:

I have become a great fan of this establishment in the last 6 months. Consistently as good as any Barbecue in Memphis! The staff is terrific.
There are a lot of Barbecue restaurants in Memphis but only a few have great ribs, chicken, turkey and pulled pork! I cannot wait to return.

girlfrydee#437282 writes:

Everytime I try to eat here, I end up having to pull pieces of fat off my pulled bbq pork and chicken, or miss it and end up with a disgusting piece in my mouth, which totally ruins the food. Germantown Commissary or Corky's are much better.

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