I've had the new Lippy's BBQ on my to-do list since Thanksgiving after receiving email from a reader.
She told me she and her husband had found the food to be great and plentiful.
"My husband likes to say it has better flavor than Famous Dave's and faster service than McDonald's," she wrote.
That was quite an endorsement.
Well, after visiting the Malcolm restaurant last weekend, I regret not getting there sooner. The barbecue was that good and well worth the 15-minute drive.
Open since late October, Lippy's is owned by Malcolm couple Kelly and Sandy Streeter.
Kelly said smoking ribs, brisket and other meats has been a hobby of his for some time, but he became "pretty passionate about it the last five of six years." His friends and relatives told him he needed to start a restaurant.
He and Sandy set up shop at the back of the town's general store, across the street from the now-closed Branched Oak Inn.
If Lippy's takes off -- and I'm guessing it will this summer when traffic to the nearby lake picks up -- the Streeters may have to find a bigger place. Its current location seats just 24.
They plan to set up tables outside to accommodate another 35 to 40 customers. That will help.
"Eat naked" is Lippy's credo, and should be followed.
The Streeters have a sweet barbecue sauce -- one they purchased and altered -- but recommend eating their meats sans dressing.
And for good reason. Lippy's meats are incredibly flavorful. Kelly has created his own rub and smokes the ribs, brisket, pulled pork and chicken over hickory and mesquite. He's been known to use apple and cherry chips, too.
My ribs were meaty and as good as those I've enjoyed at Paul's Old-Style BBQ, the Rib Ranch and Phat Jack's.
My wife and I were quite impressed with the chicken, with smoke flavor really coming out from it.
My only complaint was with my brisket order, which was a tad fatty. I couldn't really get a good handle on its flavor.
Lippy's serves two-, three- and four-meat combination meals, served with two sides and cakelike cornbread. Ribs and sandwiches also are available. Prices range from $7 to $20.
The sides include a homemade potato salad (made by Sandy's mother), baked beans with brisket, macaroni and cheese with bacon, a potato casserole and a tangy and juicy cole slaw.
While we were there, Sandy brought out bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers for us to try. The pepper was stuffed with cream cheese, but not breaded and fried. It was smoked instead. It was, in a word, awesome. Six-count poppers cost $4 when available. Grade: A
Lippy's is not full service. Customers place orders at the window near the entrance and then find seats at the tables.
Condiments, including the barbecue sauce, and plastic tableware are on a counter at the back of the restaurant. There are napkins -- plenty of them -- at each table.
The turn-around time is, indeed, as fast as McDonald's, with our entrees arriving in plastic foam takeout containers about two or three minutes after ordering. Drinks also are served in foam. Grade: B
As noted before, the restaurant is small, with seating at a premium during busy dinner hours. This may frustrate those who drive in from out of town.
The most interesting thing about Lippy's decor is the rust color of the walls. The Streeters matched it to the color of their rub.
The rest of the place is fairly nondescript. A "Blues Brothers" poster hangs in one corner. There are a couple of other music-related items on the wall as well as a T-shirt with the restaurant's smiley face, "eat naked" logo. Grade: C