Zach's Fire & Ice
 Akron, Ohio     Date of Visit  06/08/13    
 http://www.zacksfireice.com/ 

Leaving Larry’s yesterday we passed a little place in a small strip plaza we had not seen before, apparently they have been there for years as an ice cream joint and added some barbecue a couple of years ago. The sign has got to be new or there has to be something across the street I stare at every time I’ve been down the road. We thought the place must be brand new and we were not sure it was open when we pulled up, if you are going to hang neon signs in the windows, turning them on might make the place appear to be doing business.
 



 


 
 


The Future Of After Barbeque Is On Display
 

Inside were two sweet young ladies behind the counter that reinforced the new feeling of the place, they could really use some training. Confusion over the menu, the register and whatever else, it seems like someone had some friends or family and asked them to watch the place while they ran to the library. To me the interior is modeled after a more colorful Chipotle with freezer cases. We started with a smattering of the fire option, 2-two meat platters. Steph ordered the pulled pork and sliced chicken and I the ribs and smoked sausage.

The platters come with two sides and a choice of bread all of which were pretty forgettable. Steph went with an bland and undercheesed mac concoction and a better sweet potato mash with a maple syrup glaze and a couple of candied pecans. I am not a sweet tater guy but this might have been the best side we tried, probably not a good sign. I tried the potato salad which was every bit as interesting as the mac and cheese and BBQ beans which like the taters were more interesting with little bits of Q’ed meat and Q sauce but nothing I would go out of my way for.
 

 
 
Platter # 1
 

Platter # 2
 
 

Cheesey But Oh SO Dry
 

Corn Muffin Was Very Interesting And Maybe Scary Or Haunted
 
 

I ordered the cheddar biscuit and Steph got the corn muffin. The biscuit had a good bit of cheese chopped into it but it was a kind of dry I don’t think I have ever experienced before, they really need to consider some butter or some other kind of lubricant on the tray. The corn muffin was strange in all sorts of other manners. The texture was of an alien density and the thing was apparently inhabited by ghost spiders as every time Steph stuck her fork into it a magical whispy strand of web would be trailing the tines…I really hope that was cheese of some kind.
 

 

These Starches Are Underwhelming...
 

...And Boring
 

BBQ Beans Were A Little Better
 

As Were The Sweetened Sweet Taters With Maple
 

Things improved significantly when it came to the actual Q. This stuff is not going to compete with any serious bastion of slow smoking but it does bear a resemblance. The sausage was very mildly spiced and featured just the grind and some smoke. It had a nice simplicity. The pulled pork had an obvious smoke ring and while it looked dry was actually juicy and pretty tasty. The three ribs were not over or underdone and while I would have preferred the membrane removed they had a nice tug and flavor. The slices of chicken were seriously smoky in a good way and while dry married well with the sauces to make for maybe the best of the four options we tried.
 


The Chicken Slices Were Really Nice
 


The Pulled Pork Was A Little Less So But Have Had WAY Worse
 

Good Cook On The Ribs
 

Sausage Is Mild And Juicy
 

Oh yeah, the sauces. They had seven listed and you get three little cups with the platters so we tried six of them. Their classic has a hint of spice and a good twang of tang, remided me of more Carolinian options. You can add some umph with the bold which has more of a kick but seems to be the same base, actually it strikes me that they offer different versions of the same condiment instead of widely varied options, they know what they like and give you some variation. There is a honey version that takes sweet to an entirely different level and a Dare ‘Ya habanero which really didn’t deliver any serious heat at all. My two favorites were the gold and apple bourbon. A little smokiness from the bourbon and most of the features of apple butter were nicely inserted into the tangy tomato sauce. The gold is a mustard addition that, for me, balances out the spice, sweetness and vinegar really well. Not too bad all the way around.
 


Three Sauces Accompany The Platter
 

But It Seems You Could Work Out Whatever You Wanted
 

We finished with some ice where the only thing that confused me was Steph. She got a tasting spoon of the lemon sorbet, knowing it couldn’t ever resemble her most fondly remembered lemon ice from Johnnies Charcoal in Chicago, took a taste, glazed over for a minute, brought the rest of the spoon to me (and it was pretty darn close to as good), danced around a little in joy and then went back to the counter and ordered ice cream instead. The ice cream was a salty caramel truffle which was also very nice with tiny caramel candies for texture. I tried the watermelon sorbet which was much like lemon. Juice and water churned so finely the ice actually has no texture at all with minute pieces of the actual melon frozen in between. There was actually a little white watermelon seed in one spoonful and while I typically am disturbed by surprises in my food this one only indicated how the frozen treat was so watermelony. Having heard that some of our favorite Q places worth driving to visit are falling apart (esp. Barry Dyngles, apparently all of the trophies are gone and the quality left with them!?!) it was nice to find fairly done replacements.
 


The Ice Cream Is Pretty Good
 

The Sorbets, Even Better...If You Order Them
 
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