by Alice Levitt
1130 North Avenue, Burlington 658-4148
I am a stickler about barbecue. Usually, if it's not competition-quality, I don't care. But Wild Bill's is something of a different animal. Ever wished you had a dad who was a really good home griller and could present you with ribs and picnic-style sides on demand? The paternal and seemingly not-at-all wild Bill is your guy.
The menu is simple. There are chicken, ribs, steak, pork chops and burgers, all in the $10 or less range. My plate of chicken thigh and leg, with crisp, skin-on fries and syrupy sweet baked beans was $5.95. Presented as one plate-filling piece, the bird was meltingly tender, with grill-crisped skin. The barbecue sauce, which appeared to have been slathered on only at the end of cooking was tomato based with a fruity sweetness and just a hint of spice.
The half rack of ribs was also grilled, not smoked. I'm used to seeing baby back or St. Louis pork slabs at restaurants. These monsters were country-style, meaning there was meat from the chop attached for an extra-thick, Flintstone's-like bones. The pork was tender without falling right off the bone. In places, fat along the edges became as pleasingly crisp as a well-executed pork belly.
The coleslaw was thick-cut and light, though less vinegary than I prefer. I can only rave about the macaroni and cheese — with a slight caveat. The cheesy, cheddar-heavy blend created delightful strings as it stretched from tureen to plate. That said, it was reheated in a microwave, as were the beans. What can I say? That's just how dad has to do it sometimes.
Maybe I'm cutting the five-table, mostly take-out business too much of a break. The food is not what I generally consider "restaurant quality." I don't usually like microwaving my food, even at home. I was disappointed that they had run out of all but one dessert in their little fridge. However, the enjoyment of working class home cookin' prevailed. Next time I wish I were at a good old family picnic, I will rush to see Wild Bill.