310 E. 1st Street Newberg, Oregon
Rating: 2.5 / 5.0
Forty minutes, on a good day. That’s how long it takes to wind your way down U.S. Route 99 from Portland to Newberg. Enduring endless traffic signals and wandering motorists requires fortitude, or insanity, or both — but what better impetus than the promise of top-rate barbecue at Storrs Smokehouse? Rankings of #1 in Oregon (Only In Your State) and #6 in the USA (Jetsetter Magazine) are accolades not to be taken lightly. Granted, neither of these publications likely top your list for sourcing good barbecue, but exploring bold claims like these is of paramount importance.
Riding the success of The Painted Lady Restaurant, Jessica Bagley and Allen Routt launched Storrs in 2014 with the intent to serve up barbecue as an ode to Allen’s Southern heritage. Of course, one success does not automatically beget another, as there is plenty to improve at Storrs.
Consider the brisket; lacking flavor, dry, and tough — imagine gnawing on smoked shoe leather and you’ll get the idea. A drenching of the pinot noir barbecue sauce isn’t enough to salvage these woody planks. Other than a respectable smoke ring and peppery bark, this brisket offers little to love. The wings are another cause for concern. Hints of maple and a fiery finish are a good start, but the smoke-starved, rubbery skin, is an altogether disagreeable experience.
Better options are the dry-rubbed ribs and pulled pork. Rusty brown beauties, the St. Louis ribs have a subtle sweetness highlighting the natural pork essence. A bump in flavor amplitude and a bit more cook time would be welcome, but otherwise, these ribs are good eating. The pulled pork, while dry, is an enticing mix of rosy meat flecked with large barky bits. A good measure of South Carolina vinegar sauce alleviates the dryness problem, leaving a sublime pile of tender, flavorful, pork.
Unfortunately, sides seem an afterthought at Storrs. The coleslaw is saturated with so much overtly sweet dressing it could nearly double as some kind of cabbage dessert soup. And the mac & cheese, creamy but flavorless, is equally disappointing.
Storrs probably did barbecue proud at one time in its history, but it appears to have lost its heart of late. Trusting Jetsetter and Only In Your State for barbecue rankings is a dubious proposition at best, but even so, the barbecue at Storrs is a surprising disappointment. Save yourself the forty minutes and a case of road-rage; there are better options closer to home.