I guess if you have mesquite grilled steaks on the menu in addition to the mesquite smoked barbecue, you feel the need to serve an amuse bouche. A steaming mug of their “world famous” pinto bean soup came to the table along with our drinks. The beans were spicy and very good, as was everything that wasn’t meat.

A side of homemade potato salad with plenty of egg and pickles was great. A medium-bodied sauce was good enough to drink, and their slaw was crunchy with a pleasingly sweet dressing. I expected more out of the meats after seeing the all-wood-fired J&R smoker out back. Sliced deli turkey couldn’t have been helped by any smoker, and the polish sausage wasn’t memorable. Ribs were well cooked and didn’t fall off the bone, but the smoke just didn’t come through in the slightest. Brisket had picked up some of that smoke, but the meat was chewy and under-seasoned (if at all). The overly lean slices are a testament to why I don’t like a barbecue joint with a wait staff. When you can order your meat directly from the meat cutter you can make specific requests that can be granted in real time, and then I could have steered clear of these dry lean slices and asked for something from the fatty end. Providing a wait staff eliminates this option.

(This review originally appeared on Full Custom Gospel BBQ.)