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My Magnificent Memorable Meal at Ray Ray’s Meat + Three

Posted by CMH Gourmand on September 12, 2021

It was 6 pm on a Wednesday. I had just wrapped up a client meeting at the Downtown Newark Library and I was ready to hit the road west, back to Columbus. (By the way, the library is a beautiful building well suited to the task). A common theme in many support groups is H.A.L.T. = don’t make decisions when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. I was hungry. I am pretty much always angry (in an existential sort of way), I have not been lonely in this century but I was alone, which is a rarity and I was definitely tired. The rays of the sun relentlessly tried to blind me through my sunglasses and visor as I tooled along SR 161 when I recalled that Ray Ray’s Meat + Three was nearby. In fact the exit to it was about 4 seconds away. A quick tap of the breaks and short lived turn signal found me on target to Ray Ray’s.

I plied my way through the door knowing exactly what I wanted to order, a sampler. I then paused a bit while I pondered on my side choice options. Here I decided to go for that bridge too far. The sampler showcases multiple meats so good sense would dictate one or maybe two sides. I opted for three. I did show restraint by getting one dessert instead of two. Then just as I was completing my order, I decided that I would live it up by having my monthly alcohol allotment with a Rockmill Brewing White Ale.

The sampler including the following: Brisket, BBQ Chicken, Sausage, Pork Belly, Pulled Pork, Pickled Onions and Pickles. Three sauces, to use as I see fit were included. As a Kansas City BBQ Society Certified BBQ judge, professional food judge and lifelong eater every single item on this samples was perfect. My sides were macaroni and cheese, corn pudding and a Scotch Egg. Once again, each was excellent, the dishes showcasing the epitome of perfect for what I prefer about these sides. I will expand more on the Scotch Egg as the end of this dispatch.

I sat in silence, at a picnic table by myself literally sucking all of this in. I wanted to enjoy the moment but I also wanted to get home in time to tuck in my son and share a few of the best bites with CMH Spouse. The weather was perfect, on this final day of August it was neither hot nor humid, there was no threat of rain and a light breeze kept me cool and blew most of the insects away and kept them at bay. It was also refreshing not to eat from my kitchen counter/office or out of a bag. I soaked in the peace, the quiet, and the food. In my mind, my sole thought was a recurrent, “this is so fucking good”. I’m not often prone to profanity but the quality of this meal warranted more adjectives while the pleasure centers of my brain blocked my ability to think of anything more eloquent. In this altered state of consciousness, I think I may have started to mouth, then mumble and finally, possibly audibly articulate “this is so FUCKING GOOD!” over and over again, when a figure appeared in my peripheral vision.

It was not figment of my imagination, it was Jamie “Ray Ray” Anderson himself. I waited for him to say “Sir, can you please stop scaring my guests”. Instead, he said “I thought I saw you, I have not seen you in forever, where have you been?”. My stock answer to this question is I got married, I have a six year old son and also, Covid. He asked if this was my first time visiting and I, much to my shame since the place is well established now, said yes. He asked why I did not call ahead for VIP treatment and I shared that this literally was a spur of the moment trip. We talked briefly about the food. However, since my brain was still fogged by pure joy, I could not produce any fan boy assessment. All I could jumble out was, “the chicken is great, the pork belly is great, the brisket is great…..” I was too out of clinical practice to go into to detail about how the brisket was the perfect. Neither too tough nor too tender. Sliced to the optimal thickness. Just enough of a smoke ring to add to both appearance and flavor. I did not tell him that I have not had a better serving of chicken in my recollection, and on and on.

What Jamie and I did speak of was happiness. The joy of being able to spend time with our families. The joy of after a very long journey feeling that this project and his assorted businesses were hitting the mark he wanted them to without taking away from family or lowering the high bar he sets for what is served. We spoke of the dream team that has created at Ray Ray’s Meat + Three including, of course, Chef Bill Glover. Jamie also spoke of the how this business threw in a new variable – being a property owner. Buying / investing in property is a different dynamic as well as a choice/act he is proud of.

Jamie mentioned that he was doing a special tasting menu for Scott Woods, local writer and poet whom we both follow with an interest. Scott was kind enough to give my book an unsolicited shout out a few months back, which was much appreciated. Since Scott and I were unlikely to cross paths again in the near future, I was happy to be able to drop by his table and thank him both for the endorsement and for his contributions to our community.

In short summary, my meal at Ray Ray’s Meat + Three was magnificent! That was no surprise but why is this blog worthy? I have written about my most memorable meals before, most recently in June of 2019, and this ranks within the top seven without hesitation. The Meat + Three concept is a blend of some menu items you have seen on the Ray Ray’s food trailers for years, with specials and extra dishes a full kitchen and meat cutting area can provide in a fusion of best parts of Central Texas BBQ joints (think Lockhart Texas) and classic Nashville Meat and Three eateries.

I had no plan to write about Ray Ray’s Meat + Three because my decision to dine there was spur of the moment. I just hoped to have a good meal. Don’t get me wrong, apathy and Ray Ray’s are words that will never be paired together for me. I have been dying to eat there since it opened in June and I heard about the eatery’s development since shortly after birth of the concept. What made this meal magnificent is the same thing that drives me to write (much less now that in the past), which is the human component. I was not Jamie’s first customer but I was among the first. I might not be the first to write about him, if so, then I was second to write about him and what he set out to do years ago. I have watched that journey and eaten the results along the way. What made this meal magnificent was being able to see the arc of Jamie’s story land where he is today and see him experience joy first hand. In the world of food, Ray Ray’s Meat +Three is the equivalent to shooting a three pointer to win a national championship in the last second of a game. As Jamie departed he noticed I has set aside a few choice bites to take home from my wife. He insisted on making a VIP to go bag for Mrs. Gourmand. It was an honor to have him curate a trophy for me carry into my home. I really lucked out here. Not only was I the hero when I walked through the door but his care package included the two things I wanted to eat but did not order – greens and homemade bread! I asked Jamie, many years ago what his go to item was at Ray Ray’s and he said without hesitation, it was greens, he eats them everyday. So there you go kids. If you eat your vegetables everyday good things may happen.

This is not a story I set out to write. But it is a story I felt compelled to write about as I walked to my car after my meal. As I looked down at the parking space by my car I saw two pennies waiting for me to plunder. Those that know me well know that I love to find loose change and that I will one day die picking up a penny from the street. It was at that moment of everything coming together for me, that I felt the need to turn around a take a photo so I would have an image to go with the story I knew I needed to write.

Ray Ray’s Meat +Three Details

Sidedish: The Scotch Egg, The Bee and Me.

The first photo you see below was me trying to emulate the photographic styling of Mr. Tony Layne – The Man, the Myth and the Legend behind Porketta and the creator of high end food pornography. This bee was fascinated with the Scotch Egg I ordered at Ray Ray’s Meat + Three. I was happy for the bee to focus on this while I focused on the rest of my meal. By the time I circled back to this round orb of cardiac concern, as the last item of my meal, the Bee was gone. I took one bite of the Scotch egg and was instantly beyond full. At this point, I noticed the bee was now prone by the tray. Unmoving but not dead. I believe he overdosed on the sweet sauce of the Scotch Egg. His inability to move and absolute lethargy turned out to be a prelude to how I would feel about 30 minutes later. I understand and respect the bee’s bliss and hope he was able to fly away on his own power by the next day.

Ray Ray’s Meat + Bee

4 Responses to “My Magnificent Memorable Meal at Ray Ray’s Meat + Three”

  1. Holly May said

    Lovely post. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Brian said

    What a great piece. Thanks so much.

  3. AlohaJo said

    Wow. I can’t believe that I have neglected to check for any new articles from you. I always enjoy your writing. We have never met, but I feel that we would get along just great. Thank you for continuing to provide such wonderful pieces about central Ohio foods/restaurants. And because of your book, all of my coworkers think that I know way too much about Columbus pizzerias. I hope that there will be many more great articles from you in the future. I myself have yet to make it out to the Meat and 3 location. I keep seeing the wonderful specials that they are making. Hopefully soon.

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