Friday, July 4, 2014

Enoch's BBQ makes the grade

Gluten-free and delicious at Enoch's BBQ!

I loved my career as a high school teacher. I loved my subject matter, I loved my colleagues, and, I’ll admit it, I loved the summers off. Most of all, though, I loved my students—their youthfulness, their creativity, their constant ability to make me laugh, and even (on occasion) their orneriness made me look forward to Mondays.

But the one thing I didn’t love about teaching English, the thing I dreaded most of all, the thing that ultimately drove me to an early retirement was grading papers. Even now, I break into a cold sweat when I remember those stacks of research papers, sometimes numbering as many as 180 at once (and usually gathered just before a holiday).

One of the “shortcuts” to grading that made life more bearable was using a rubric (or scoring guide) that listed the expectations and/or weaknesses for each student’s paper. With a rubric, a teacher can assign points and make comments with a mere checkmark and the student can better understand his grade and, hopefully, make improvements in his future work.

Ok, I'm not the NYC health department,
but I do give Enoch's BBQ a great big A!
In my retirement, the only type of scoring guide I use is the mental checklist I have for trying out new experiences. Because I am a foodie, restaurants are the most frequent recipients of my grading, with my main criteria being the following:

  1. Does the restaurant have a gluten-free menu or offer easily identifiable gluten-free foods?
  2. Is the food tasty?
  3. Is the wait staff friendly, helpful, and efficient?
  4. Is the price reasonable?
  5. Is the restaurant within walking distance of my home?
  6. Does the restaurant have outdoor seating?

Now, a restaurant may fail in one or two of these areas and still make a “passing grade” (but not offering gluten-free food is obviously a deal-breaker, an automatic F, as far as this celiac is concerned). Unfortunately, I don’t have the opportunity to give out many straight A’s—but last week I did just that--to Enoch’s BBQ at 307 S. National in Springfield, MO.

Before walking to the location from our loft (Check!), I had contacted the restaurant to find out if they had a gluten-free menu, which they did (Check!). When Doug, his cousin John, and I arrived at the restaurant, we sat down at our outdoor table (Check!) and were greeted by our friendly, efficient and helpful waitress (Check!) Within moments we were eating fantastic barbecue and excellent side dishes (Check!), and we left feeling satisfied, having paid our very reasonable (Check!).

In addition to passing each of the criteria with flying colors, Enoch’s received extra credit for its chef coming to our table to greet us personally, for offering a nice selection of drinks, and for hosting Mark Bilyeu and Cindy Woolf on Tuesday evenings from 6-8.

Final assessment: Add Enoch’s (Straight A) Barbecue to your list of restaurants to “check” out!