When I heard that Russ "Smokin' Okie" Garrett had taken over the job of pitmaster at the Coach's in Bricktown I immediately put it on my list of places to try.
When I first started working on the Oklahoma BBQ Eaters Anonymous concept. It was going to be a group that would go around Oklahoma City rating the Q-raunts similar to a group that has done the same thing in Kansas City.
I met Russ at the inaugural gathering of OKBBQEA at Steve's Rib near Hefner and Rockwell in October of 2007.
I use the term gathering lightly because it was just Russ and I, which was a pre-cursor to the group concept being a failure, but I learned a lot that night from a fellow BBQ addict.
Now at the risk of being accused of slander again (Refer to some of the comments in my post about Blu's BBQ & Burgers) parking can be a bit of an issue getting to Coach's which is located on the northwest corner of the Bricktown Ballpark. You can find free parking in Bricktown but be prepared to take a short walk to get to Coach's or you can pay to park a little closer. I was with a group of co-workers, in two vehicles on this day, so we parked and walked. It was a nice day so why not.
Coach's is also the only place I've found in the OKC area that offers burnt ends. Not saying that someplace else in OKC doesn't but Coach's is the first I've found.
Unfortunately those burnt ends aren't offered as an option for the Coach's Pile Up. I asked if they could be substituted for chopped brisket, since after all they are brisket, but as you can see from that picture above. The answer was no. So I had pulled pork, spare ribs, and chopped brisket with cole slaw and beans.
The ribs are advertised as St. Louis style and tear away from the bone where you bite tender. I wouldn't expect any less from a pitmaster that has cooked competition Q because that's what I know the judges are looking for. I didn't take a close-up picture of the ribs but if you look at my picture of the full plate. You will noticed my ribs weren't sliced. So while they had good flavor, and texture, I had to tear the bones out to eat them. I'm pretty sure that would get points deducted at a competition. Then again Coach's is a restaurant and not a competition but I would have preferred them to be sliced myself.
The pork appeared the be hand pulled the way I like it and not that folded, spindled, mutilated stuff to many places advertise as pulled pork. It was moist, like the brisket some might find just a touch salty, but it was completely different than any pulled pork I've ever had in this area and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
The cole slaw is a vinegar based slaw and while you'll probably never hear me rave about a slaw. I thought it was pretty good. I like both vinegar and creamy style slaws and this one worked for me.
The beans may have started from a can but they've been tweaked quite a bit. They were really sweet so I'd feel safe in saying that some additional brown suger had been aded. They also had some meat added to them and from the color, and the flavor, I would say they have been finished in the smoker because they had a nice dark color and a smoke taste that really added some depth to the flavor.
Now if you were paying attention earlier you may have noticed I mentioned that Coach's serves burnt ends. Well I wasn't going to leave without trying them. So while it made for a rather expensive lunch. I ordered the appetizer portion to give them a try.
So if you're in the mood for burnt ends and don't want to make them yourself, can't make them yourself, or don't want to drive to Kansas City to get them. Coach's can help satisfy the cravings. They do advertise that they are limited in quantity. So there is a chance they may not be available all day.
Overall I enjoyed my visit to Coach's. About my only complaint would be with our server. He was apologetically inept at times. They really weren't that busy for the lunch rush but he managed to screw up the drink order bad enough that another table was served a drink that was ordered at our table.
It's definitely not a place I would have ever gone to expecting good BBQ because it was/is a local sports bar chain and I honestly would not have known about it if I didn't spend as much time checking Urbanspoon reviews as I do, but it's some of the better BBQ in the Oklahoma City area which makes me wonder why Russ chose to hang his sign there rather than opening his own place.
While it doesn't pass my 6 Hour test (Would I drive 6 hours to eat it again) I would feel comfortable recommending it mainly because it's not what you find at your typical Q-raunt around here. While I didn't try it myself another of my co-workers tried the chili and commented that it was really good. I've tried chili at another Q-raunt that he recommended I try the chili at and it was really good. So I trust his judgment on good chili.