Barbecue is old news, gaining relevance the minute somebody accidentally left prehistoric roadkill too near the community fire pit.
So, what's next for barbecue?
One Oklahoma restaurant is doing its best to stretch the boundaries of its smoker.
At Iron Starr Urban Bar-B-Q, barbecue is made fresh daily, but the chefs never quit examining its potential.
Consider our old friend, the club sandwich: bacon, turkey, roast beef, cheese, lettuce and tomato with mayonnaise on toast — double-decker style.
Layer that template over a barbecue menu and right away you see the possibilities with smoked turkey and brisket. Chop the brisket to avoid a wrestling match in your mouth, keep the bacon, add two kinds of cheese, fuse barbecue sauce with homemade mayonnaise for the resulting barbecue aioli, toss a couple of slices of Texas toast on the grill and you've got May's Sandwich of the Month, The BBQ Club.
The restaurants Keith and Heather Paul maintain through A Good Egg Dining Group are all innovative on some level. Cheever's Cafe, Red PrimeSteak, Market C and POPS all offer a little more than standard fare.
But Iron Starr is redefining barbecue.
Keith Paul grew up in Fort Worth, eating the same barbecue we all love. But as a chef and restaurateur, he's motivated to more than just follow the familiar path.
"It's about trying to do things to stand out from the norm," he said. "We're trying to elevate things here, but it starts with the best possible ingredients."
So, Iron Starr isn't satisfied serving mac and cheese from a box, baked beans from a can or french fries from a freezer. While there's no sin committed by those who do, Iron Starr simply is a little more ambitious. That can be a sink-or-swim risk for an establishment.
But when you serve a fancy mac and cheese that develops a cult following, knee-weakening cornbread, whole batter-fried okra and homemade pickles, the upside is hard to miss.
That said, Iron Starr doesn't forget barbecue is king.
Whether it's smoked, rubbed or sauced by a Kansas City Barbecue Society-certified pit-master, your Uncle Cleetus or chef Jose Barrios at Iron Starr, barbecue is comfort food.
By making a club sandwich out of it, isn't Iron Starr simply doubling your comfort? Try a BBQ Club for yourself to decide.
Oklahoma City: 524-5925