Windy Acres Barbecue Restaurant is now closed. The restaurant closed in late June, but the business continues as a catering company and barbecue sauce maker. The restaurant has not ruled out opening another restaurant in the future.
Berks County is becoming a barbecue hotbed.
Over the last four or five years, the county’s barbecue scene has taken off with the addition of roadside trailers and full-service restaurants.
What I love about barbecue is that all of them are different. Though all of them have ribs, chicken and pork, none of them are doing them the same way. Likewise, each one has its own unique sauce, with its own style and flavor profile.
And as a barbecue aficionado, that variety is what drives me to try as many of them as possible.
Set along Route 222 just north of Kutztown, right where the Kutztown Bypass ends and the traffic jam of two-lane 222 begins, is Windy Acres Barbecue Restaurant, one of the newest additions to the barbecue scene.
The restaurant doesn’t look like much from the outside. Attached to an Agway, you wouldn’t even know the restaurant was there if not for a small sign along the highway and a backlit sign on the building that says “RESTAURANT.”
Inside, it is a cliché of barbecue joints, the walls adorned with wagon wheels, a smiling wooden steer’s head and a pig made out of neon lights that said “Best BBQ.” The wall to the kitchen was made of metal, as if the dining room was built to enclose a tin shed.
Windy Acres prints its menu on its placemats so you can begin planning your meal from the moment you sit down. Barbecue is the main crux of the menu, with rib and chicken platters and pulled pork sandwiches being complemented by burgers and fried foods like corn nuggets and mozzarella sticks.
With my strong desire to try as many menu items as possible in one meal, I could not pass up the combo meal of a 1/2 rack of ribs and 1/2 chicken.
My chicken was late to arrive to the party, but that gave me a chance to concentrate on the massive ribs in front of me. Size is the first thing you notice. These ribs are not the perfectly shaped baby backs you see at a chain restaurant, instead they form a beautiful triangle with the largest rib measuring about seven inches long. Looking at the plate it was hard to imagine anyone finishing a full rack, or me being able to finish both this and my chicken which was still to come.
Then there is the color, Crayola might call it burnt sienna. The sauce gets its color, and its flavor, from the addition of mustard, which gives it a lighter color and a distinct flavor. Ripping them apart, it was clear the ribs weren’t fall-off-the-bone, and instead allowed me to bite in without risk of the meat falling to the plate.
Of my sides, the mashed potatoes were far-and-away better than the beans. Similar to those served at Muddy’s, Windy Acres uses Yukon gold potatoes, which have a more beautiful color and more pronounced flavor than Idaho potatoes. The beans had some flavor, but were a little runny and were not all that different from a can of Bush’s.
When my chicken arrived, it too was glossed in a coat of Windy Acres original sauce (they also had apple bbq and hot bbq available on request) with some extra seasonings sprinkled on. Nearly half of my half chicken had to come home with me for later as the breast meat was more than enough to fill me up after having devoured the rest of my meal.
One of the daily specials on the menu was the southwest pulled pork wrap that my wife order. It featured pulled pork (which is oddly only available on sandwiches and not available as an entree) with chipotle bbq sauce , coleslaw and cheese. The hot pork was mixed with the cold cheese and slaw before the wrap was grilled, and though I am not a fan of mixing hot and cold ingredients, the pork was very good and the chipotle sauce was excellent. The fresh-cut fries that came with the wrap were also very good, especially if you dipped them in a little bit of sauce.
Though there were a handful of desserts available, it is hard to imagine anyone making it that far, especially if they ordered the ribs. Instead, our stomachs were quite content to quit after our $25 dinner.
The neon pig on the wall may have been overstating things a little. Windy Acres may not be the “best bbq,” at least in my opinion. But it certainly has its own style and I certainly enjoyed it.
And that again is the beauty of barbecue. It’s always different, and it’s almost always delicious.