Review: W.B. Cody's

Buffalo Bill BBQ
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  December 22, 2010

There aren't any theme parks close by, but a drive down to Westerly will get you to a close approximation with bells on. Well, with chaps and spurs on. W.B. Cody's is a barbecue specialist — local, not a chain — with a Western theme clearly inspired by the showmanship of its namesake.

He would be fascinated. There's a canvas-enclosed chuck wagon outside, Pinkerton wanted posters inside with black-and-whites of the usual outlaw suspects such as Belle Starr and Billy the Kid, as well as promising historical draft picks like Bronco Bill Anderson. There's a card game mural, with a wizened prospector at the bar and a gussied-up brassy belle leaning on the piano, in conversation with the player.

W.B. Cody's | 401.322.4070 | 265 Post Rd, Westerly | Mon-Thurs, 11:30 am-9 pm; Fri, 11:30 am-10 pm; Sat, 12-10 pm; Sun, 12-9 pm | Major Credit Cards | Full Bar | Sidewalk-Level Accessible
Obviously, it's a place that children would get a kick out of. With that in mind, on Sundays two kids can eat free for every adult entrée purchased. The menu doesn't say what age limit or ordering restriction there is, but it still sounds like a good deal.

The menu has more than 20 starters and salads, plenty of burgers and sandwiches, seven pastas, and 18 entrées. Those 10 sandwiches are all meat choices, except for the haddock fillet. Surprisingly for a place emphasizing barbecue, there's no pulled pork, with a "fork-tender" house specialty "Killer Pork Sandwich" ($7.99) topping the list instead. And despite "Buffalo Bill" Cody being so named because he supplied Kansas railroad workers with bison he killed, no endangered species are offered.

The appetizers contain plenty of tempting options. The 1-1/4-pound bucket of ribs ($10.99) are sliced individually, a mess-avoiding convenience that makes you wonder why they're not always served that way. They are also available as the second half of an appetizer sampler ($8.99), along with smoked chicken wings, with your choice of Kansas City sweet or Texas hot (don't believe it) barbecue sauce.

The friend I was with, also a fussy food writer, enjoyed the signature sweet onion soup ($4.89), only cup-size but with well-browned cheese on top, provolone instead of the traditional Gruyere, and with a hearty broth. The Texas black bean chili ($4.99) was packed with ground beef, but my Texan relatives would shoot the chef for the presence of carrots and lack of pintos.

Rob was also curious about their version of onion rings, which they call tumbleweeds ($4.89), because they are a tangle of as-thin-as-possible slices. He missed the substantialness of the usual version, but I enjoyed them and was amused. Their eggplant fries ($6.89) are another inventive item you think would be common. These were juicy, encased with thick, herbed panko breadcrumbs. Their marinara sauce was chunky rather than clingy, as would have been more convenient, but it was tasty and easily spooned on.

We couldn't come here and not have the "Wild West BBQ Sampler" ($14.99). It consisted of a quarter-rack of pork ribs, a quarter-chicken, and two "burnt endz," along with Cajun fries and coleslaw. That last meat item is also available among the appetizers and is accurately described as "smokin' chunks of BBQ beef brisket." Made famous at Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City, where I discovered and very much enjoyed it, Cody's version is juicy and delicious, but I missed a side or two of the cubes being blackened crisply, for which they are so named. The ribs were excellent, pink inside, but the chicken was dried out enough to have been sent back to the kitchen if we weren't in a hurry.

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