It takes a lot for me to go out after work on a Friday night. If I have made it to work despite my migraine brain, and praise Jesus I did this week, I am usually exhausted and even though I am starving I would rather lay on the couch and order food just to eliminate me having to move. It is so tempting to just become a recluse and never leave the house again. I can so see the appeal in that lifestyle sometimes.
So when I actually aim able and willing to go out it has to be worth it. It has to be a place I know will be good or a place I have always wanted to try and people I like are taking me there. Then it’s a win/win situation. I love those. Actually it becomes a win/win/win situation because I can also use it for a blog. Now I can’t ask for anything more. I mean I could but I will try to be flexible and roll with the punches here.
Adam Gertler on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”, on the “Bar-B-Que” episode during season two brought the Dinosaur restaurant into my life. I had seen it a long time ago and oddly again recently. I was looking it up again when I got an email from a friend inviting me to go. It was serendipitous. They had a new location in Brooklyn, so unlike Adam I will not be going to Syracuse, but I still intended on trying the specialty barbeque half-chicken he raved on and on about.
According to the Food Network website:
“Adam Gertler heads to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que where he devours the half-chicken dinner. The legendary restaurant began in 1983 when owner John Stage cut a 55-gallon drum in half. With juicy hickory-smoked meats slathered in an addictive secret sauce, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is anything but extinct.”
After watching how delicious this meat was prepared and the drool that almost formed from Adam’s mouth as he talked about it, I immediately made a mental note of this place. I had never previously heard about it but I was sold.
During this episode several other places were mentioned but now looking back at the list there is one in particular that caught my eye. It was Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous from Memphis, Tennessee. During a trip down south I ate many good meals (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2011/06/for-rock-n-roll-ribs-and-reflection_7249.html) and I miss them all terribly. But the brisket and ribs from Rendezvous are hard to replace. I had even shipped them up here as a Christmas present for my father last year (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2013/01/for-generous-and-great-gift-giving-ideas.html) and if you closed your eyes you could practically picture yourself in the restaurant. It was one of the best experiences I have had giving food as a present.
My most recent fete at all things barbecue was in August at the Neely’s Barbecue Parlor (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2013/09/for-eating-down-home-with-neelys-at.html). I had been to their location in Memphis and that was my first time visiting their N.Y.C. location. As you can read in detail in that post, I was one happy and full customer when I left there. It had exceeded my expectations and then some. I am craving their pulled pork just thinking about it and that is unfortunate since I have a chicken sandwich for lunch in front of me instead.
I wrote the first half of this blog the day prior to this dinner. I had a lot to say and I was in the mood to fantasize about what I would be eating. I also was trying to pick my meal ahead of time which is usually an easy decision. But as of now I am torn. I know the chicken is what Adam adores and what was sending me here in the first place but the ribs, brisket, and of course pork is calling my name too. For one thing I want to compare them to other restaurants I have been to and for another I want to eat them as this is not a food group I have readily at my hands. For appetizers I am not even going near that one. I assume we will be sharing so for this decision as well as my entrée I am going to see what happens when we go there. There will be four of us in attendance so I am hoping this allows enough room for me to bite all of the things I am admiring. I will report back later.
Well I am on the flip side of things now.
We arrived promptly at the exact time of our reservation and despite a full restaurant and a flurry of people waiting we were seated right away, a major plus. The atmosphere was one of light-hearted fun. Everyone was laughing and drinking and seemed to be having such a good time. The intoxicating smell of the smoking meat was the first thing you notice. The second is the light color wood that panels the walls and floor. It feels kind of like you are in a giant barrel but in a good way. As I look all around there are huge trays being delivered to the tables around us and I wanted in on the fun as soon as possible. With that a nice young man was ready to take our order.
As I had planned I took my meal selections cues from my friends. They ordered the Swag Sampler Plate for us to share. That included fried green tomatoes, deviled eggs, drunken spicy shrimp boil, and what turned out to be my favorite- the chicken wings. The best part of the chicken wings was the sauce that was chosen for them; the Wango Tango Habanero BBQ Sauce. It was the best combination of a sweet and hot sauce I have ever tasted. Usually a sauce is more overwhelming one way or another but this hit the spot. I ate the wings just to get more sauce.
The next best thing was the deviled eggs and this was mostly because it was my first time trying a deviled egg anywhere. I was afraid at first because I thought it would be heavy or slimy when you bite into it but actually it was delightful. It was light and had a mousse like filling. It was very lightly seasoned so I could not tell what was really in it but I ate two. I was very proud of myself.
As for the fried green tomatoes I am thinking I really don’t like them as much as I thought I did. I eat them any time they are placed in front of me and lately I am always less than satisfied. They taste bitter. So now I don’t know if it is me or them but I am taking a break for a while. As for the shrimp boil I didn’t try it I wanted to save room for the main course but it looked good and it went over well with my buddies.
My dinner was a combo platter and that was the best decision we made as a team as we all ordered practically the same meal. I love these kind of menu selections so that you always feel like you didn’t choose the wrong thing and you never leave with a want in your heart. I try so hard to avoid that. I got the Tres Ninos- a sampling of the brisket, pork, and ribs. As my sides I chose the mac and cheese and mashed potatoes. The plate was completed with something called “Honey Hush Cornbread”. Hmm.
The food arrived pretty quickly and we moved eager with anticipation from the appetizer to the entrees. My friends really wanted to know if I would love it as much as they thought I would. I had big hopes which is always risky and decided to taste the pork first. That was excellent. It would end up being my favorite of them all. I think that is because it had a similar sauce as the chicken wings. I would eat that sauce on Wonder bread and be happy. The meat was moist and cooked perfectly.
The mac and cheese was also tasty but had slightly too much pepper in them for my blood. I would alternate between a bite a meat and either side depending on how thirsty I was getting. The cornbread was unlike any I have had before it was dense yet soft. I don’t know that it tasted like honey but was better than your average cornbread. It wasn't so dry it needed butter but it did tasty yummy in the gravy from the mashed potatoes.
As for the final two meats, I had the brisket next. I have to say I was underwhelmed. I had Rendezvous in my head and that was a mistake. I might have set the bar too high. It was good here just a little too plain. It didn’t stand up and make itself known. I didn’t want it burnt or spicier it just was sort of thin and flat if that makes any sense.
I had saved the ribs for last because I was planning to dig into those suckers and make a big delicious mess. This is not first date food people. You can only eat like this with the ones you love. But this was the food I liked the least and was my greatest disappointment. The meat had a lot of fat on it and the seasoning didn’t do anything for me. I know I did the next part to myself but I was dreaming of Neely’s Barbecue Parlor. It was the last time in recent memory I had such shockingly good ribs. Those bad boys were so good I bet I could have eaten them cold out of the refrigerator two days later and they would have still fallen right off the bone and been juicy. I cringe at my craving for them more and more as I thought of it that night. I kept taking bites but it was no use. So I just ate more pork and my sides. I was full anyway.
Dessert was a huge piece of peanut butter pie. It was the thickest thing I have ever tasted. You had to hold onto your fork or it would have gone flying. It was too rich for my blood even though I did take a few bites. It was the perfect thing for the four of us to share and the perfect way to end such a salty meal even though I am up for one any day of the week.
Overall, I was so happy to finally have a Dinosaur BarBQue in or at least close to my backyard now. I had been looking forward to trying this for such a long time and had such a nice time out with my friends. The service was amazing and the space is ideal. By the time summer rolls around it will be hopping for sure. After only a few months it is almost impossible to get in. You will need reservations about two weeks out for dinner on the weekend.
As for my final recommendation I think anyone who is serious about this genre of food should give it a whirl. After all, our taste buds are all different. I will always like tasting, comparing, and finding which part of one meal and that of another would make my ultimate last supper.
This is a restaurant that definitely roared its way to a place in the hearts of the community.
It may not be a place where I would have my final feast but it is a great place to have a BarBQue for two, or even four!
For More Bar-B-Que: