The chopped pork plate at Urban Bar-B-Que at 805 Olney Sandy… (John Lindner, Special to…)
Next time you're near Sandy Spring, check out Urban Bar-B-Que, 805 Olney Sandy Spring Road (Highway 108). It's that easy to recommend.
If you look the place up online, you may be turned off by the redneck motif. Don't be. Urban's approach tips its hat and decor to that often-derided cohort, but they treat the style gently, with tongue in cheek.
Everywhere you look in the dining room, you'll see details paying homage to redneckism. The Elvis painting, the camo hunter's cap, the framed tattoo designs and John Deere are all here. The tables are covered in brown butchers wrap. Silverware is presented in tin pails, and there's a bucket of wet wipes and a roll of paper towels at each booth. Crude but handy.
Servers and staff come across as unpolished and competent. They're not pulling any phony redneck attitude.
The dish: Urban leads its menu with ribs, chicken, pork, smoked sausage and brisket. They do a burger, a salmon Chesapeake and a crab cake. Most of the salads and starters follow the redneck theme. But the smoked and grilled goodies command the spotlight, with a variety of serving portions: sandwich, plate with a side and bread choice, or a "pound" — all meat, no sides. Prices run from $5.99 to $12.99. The ribs start at $13.99 for a half-rack up to $22.99 for a half-rack and a crab cake combo.
The chopped pork plate ($8.99) came with choice of one side and one of three bread options: corn bread, brioche roll or tortilla.
Urban embraces the artery-assaulting excesses of redneck legend with treats like deviled eggs and a three-cheese and chili dip they call Redneck Fondue. Their fries are a good example of comparative moderation. Golden, lightly salted — you can't go wrong with this pick.
If the fries are a no-brainer, the corn bread may be the choice for the curious or for the corn bread-shy who've been turned off by the coarse, dry, grainy stuff. Take a chance. Urban's yellow cake version is light, subtly sweet and won't require a liter of root beer to rehydrate your palate.
The pork on this visit was everything you want slow-cooked meat to be: rustic, charred in spots, tender and rich. Urban is sauce-conscious and -cautious. They offer four types in handy squeeze bottles, letting you choose to go sweet barbecue, vinegar- or mustard-based. They also recommend a hot sauce, but unlike the other choices, it's not a part of the table setting. They bring it to the table if you request it. If you like heat, this is a good in-house recipe that won't burn you to the ground. But it has enough kick that they don't leave it lying around where an unsuspecting tenderfoot can accidentally torch his tonsils.
This visit demanded more trips to Urban Bar-B-Que. It's well worth a longish drive if you're a barbecue fan. It's family-friendly, pokes fun at itself and has an astonishingly good selection of music, from old blues greats to hip new bluegrass and soulful rock. There's a full bar if you eat in and a full carryout menu if you don't.
Where: 805 Olney Sandy Spring Road, Sandy Spring
Lunch hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m Friday and Saturday
Lunch entrees: $5.99-$22.99
[Key: ✭✭✭✭: Outstanding; ✭✭✭: Good; ✭✭: Fair or Uneven; ✭: Poor]