Whiskey Dinner at City Beer Hall

CBH 001 amuse popcorn

“Hey m’dear, any interest in going to a whiskey tasting dinner tomorrow night at City Beer Hall  (in collaboration with The Speakeasy)?”

There’s something to be said for good friends who bring you food when you’re sick, generally check in on you while conquering the world, and take you as their date to a whiskey dinner. Deanna Fox is one of those friends and then some. *swoons at succinct offer of one of my favorite brown liquors*

City Beer Hall’s chef Dimitrios Menagias and Robert Mack, the man behind the Speakeasy’s cocktail program, teamed up to pair food with drink from Brown Forman (an American owned spirit and wine business). It was a good night.

We had a popcorn amuse atop a truffled mousse with mushrooms. Paired with the fun amuse drink below whose name I’ve forgotten because this happened a week ago and I have the memory of a fly.

CBH 001 Drink
CBH Course 1 Drink Indian Candy Corn cocktailCBH Course 1 Drink Woodford White Corn Bourbon

Course 1: Indian Candy Corn cocktail (left) featuring Woodford White Corn Bourbon (neat, on the right).
The bourbon itself had a strong caramel scent, and was a real kicky type bourbon. The cocktail was equally punchy.

CBH Course 1 Winter Salad

Course 1: Winter Salad. Grilled prawn, carrots, starfruit, napa cabbage, persimmon nuoc chom. A few kernels of freeze dried corn on the right that paired very well with the meal and bourbon. This made me realize how underutilized napa cabbage is in its raw, salad-y form. A great winter salad with bright notes from the persimmon nuoc chom.

CBH Course 2 Charcuterie

Course 2: Charcuterie. My notes on this dish are covered in hearts. Duck pastrami, foie gras mousse, venison, sweet corn mostarda, pickled green tomatoes. I was talking with some folks recently who said they just didn’t “get” foie gras, and I had to reconsider our friendship for a moment. It’s fat, rich, and delicious. What’s not to like? Duck pastrami was deliciously smoky, aand was great paired with the pickled green tomatoes. The sweet corn mostarta also contained some toasted corn.

CBH Course 2 Charcuterie2CBH Course 2 Charcuterie3

I just couldn’t help but take  bunch of pictures of this plate. There was so much to love!

CBH Course 2 Drink Lion's Tail

Course 2: Lion’s Tail with Old Forester 1870 (which I forgot to take a picture of, and the cocktail picture isn’t much better. sigh). I LOVED the Lion’s tail it was tart and smoky with clove flavors. More hearts drawn around this cocktail. The Old Forester 1870 is the founding brand. 90 proof, spicy, and burns just a tad when sipped neat.

CBH Course 3 Intermezzo

Course 3: Intermezzo, with a cocktail reprieve. Pomelo sorbetto, aperol, candied pomelo peel. Dimitrios knocked this out of the park. The skill alone in candying the pomelo peel deserves respect. They were so thin, and so perfectly candied. Covered in sugar, and not too dry or too chewy. One of our table mates wasn’t familiar with pomelo, and remarked that it tasted “kind of like weed smells”, which is actually kind of accurate with its dank tartness and pungent citrus oils. It’s great to see this citrus featured front and center, especially as a plate cleanser.

CBH Course 4 Manhattan

Course 4: Manhattan with Old Forester 1897, where I have clearly crossed over from sober to jovial as I’ve forgotten to take another shot of the bourbon in its neat form. This may have been my favorite to drink neat or with a few drops of water in it, despite my forgetfulness. It had a tart nasal note, a bit milder than the white corn bourbon in the first course, with what I can only describe as having  great spicy afterburn. Definitely something to warm you up on cold winter night. The Manhattan was also expertly executed, using charred bitters and rhubarb vermouth. And that cherry. Or as my notes read “Oh my god, that brandied cherry”. It’s juicy and delicious and I love saving it to chew with the last few sips of the drink at the end. I think I could just load that Manhattan up with those brandied cherries and be a happy woman.

CBH Course 4 Wild Boar

Course 4: Wild Boar. Smoked corn relish, spaetzle, baby kale, red pepper oil. The corn was smoked over apple wood, the spaetzle was made with parsnip and mustard seed which added a lightly sweet and vegetal note to the spaetzle. All of this worked wonderfully with the boar, and sipping the Manhattan along with this dish made me feel like a very lucky woman to be eating such a fine dish, and to have a friend who’d invite me along to even try this.

CBH Course 4 Wild Boar2

I had to use every ounce of willpower to resist picking up the bone and sucking every bit of delicious cartilage and tendon off of the bone.

CBH course 5 Jack Daniels Howard St. Scaffa

Course 5: Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Barrel Proof (left); Howard St. Scaffa (right). Wow, barrel proof. 130.8% alcohol. Holy caramel smell, with a subtle note of cinnamon. “Drinkable fire” someone noted at our table. Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” was playing in my head drinking this, in very enjoyable way. The Howard St. Scaffa featured a mellow cointreau noir and one drop of Angry God ghost pepper bitters. A definite way to turn up the heat.

CBH course 5 Stuffed Figs

Course 5: Stuffed Figs. Harbison, pecan, Shiva’s wrath bitters, dark chocolate. Harbison cheese stuffed into a Greek dried fig which was reconstituted in cointreau noir. The pecans were toasted and tossed in Shiva’s wrath bitters. This was a delightful way to end the dinner on a high note. The Harbison was creamy (a triple cream to be exact) with grassy, funky, rich notes that worked well to counter the heat of the drinks and complement the sweetness of the fig.

Way to end dinner on a high note. Mic drop Dimitrios and Robert.

HAM! (or maybe Canadian bacon)

Every time I cure some meat, I think of Jon in Albany. Because he gave me 8 oz of curing pink death salt. When you only use 1/4 tsp at a time, that is a LOT of curing salt.

I cured some pork loin I picked up at Roma Importing in Latham. Let it go for at least 5 days in a brine from Ruhlman, and it’s good to go! The gist of it is 1 gallon of water, 1/4 tsp pink curing salt, 1 1/2 c kosher salt, 1/2 c sugar (uh, don’t quote me on those salt & sugar measurements… it’s probably wrong). And then you can toss in whatever seasonings you want. I tossed in a half a head of garlic cloves and that was about it. Maybe some onion powder. Next time I’ll add in more… stuff.

But smoked over some maple wood chip bits and you get yourself a fine piece of cured, meaty goodness. This was a pork loin, so it was a fairly lean cut of meat to begin with. And I may have over smoked it a tad in the heat, so it’s drier than I’d like it to be, but Albany John keeps telling me that it’s really not as dry as I think it is.

Either way, great way to use up some meat (I picked this up for $3.99/lb on sale at Roma’s – their sale meats are still better quality than the grocery store any day of the week). For some reason I find cured meats more satisfying in smaller quantities, so it’s a good way to keep meat consumption down. I had some bread leftover and made a pretty bangin’ grilled cheese and ham sandwich (it takes me, like, 30 minutes because I keep the pan over low heat, otherwise I burn the bread, but it is so golden and delicious it is worth the wait). And Albany John’s been using some bits in omelettes.

Oh, I’ve also been back on a dessert kick at nights lately. Toasted pecans and cacao nibs were the dessert de nuit.

Project Baconage

So. You might know that I am a spurious individual given to the occasional impulse purchase. In this case it was about 10 pounds of primo Kurobuta pork belly from Adventure in Food. Given that my significantly better half is from Western Mass, it’s pretty much local to me.

Also, quite a nice purchase at around $7.99 per pound. This bacon was cooked two ways. One with my stovetop hot smoker, and cold smoking with the help of one Chef Christopher Tanner.

I’ll get the math out of the way. The hot smoked bacon lost about 25% of its weight while smoking. So it was closer to $10.50 per pound for hot smoked bacon. I didn’t weigh the cold smoked bacon, but I don’t think it lost very much weight. Cold smoked and all. Next time I’ll try to be a bit better with my measurements so I can nerd out and create a graph on weight variances.

The hot smoked bacon is delicious and 100% cooked. 180-200F with maple wood chips until the bacon registers around 160 F and the meat looks pinky and good. Kind of like super delicious fatty ham. Just use Ruhlman’s cure and you’re set. A few weeks, 6 weeks…. it’s all good.

I enlisted The Profussor in this cholesterol laden drive. Parce que je suis égoïste et je voulais une autre personne à essayer ce lard.

Any way. Step 9723 of Project Bacon is to petition your chef friends to cold smoke your bacon out of the kindness of their hearts ‘coz they have cold smokers and you don’t. Pull out all the stops – compliments, pouty faces, promises of first born children. This is science, damnit! COLD SMOKED BACON THAT YOU CURED, HULLOO!

Your chef friend may explicitly tell you “You NEED to cook this. DON’T eat this raw. Whatever you do, don’t eat this raw. COOK IT.” Clearly, my reputation for putting things in my mouth precedes me. Okay, cause I might have just tried a wee slice of raw bacon. But I didn’t cause Tanner was all concerned about me eating raw pork. Sheesh.

So I just cooked the bacon. SO GOOD. Best part of making your own bacon is slicing pieces to your own desired thickness. THICK BACON!!

Here is what the bacon looked like raw. Huuuuge props to Chef Tanner for vacuum sealing it for me too!

Bacon lurve! So making your own bacon isn’t exactly easy, but oh man is it worthwhile. SO FREAKING GOOD.

But the down side is that it is so yummy you will want to eat tons of delicious bacon slices whenever you open the fridge and the bacon is just sitting there. Sitting there in the bag. Un eaten. Poor bacon, come to my belly.

Kent’s Maple Sugar House

Last weekend I went Sugar Shacking as part of Maple Weekend with Sandra, Daniel B., and Cap to Cap. We went to Kent’s Sugar House in Berlin, NY. I liked that they were on some other blogs. I appreciate a social media presence, but I’m just a bit biased, haha.

That smell – once you smell it, you’ll never forget it. The smell of syrupifying maple.

We took an outside tour first, and got to sample some of the maple sap that comes out of the tree. I want to drink this stuff on a daily basis. It’s like coconut water. Very, very lightly maple flavored, and very refreshing.

We went inside to peek at the syrup boiling apparatus. It was pretty much the best sauna ever.

And got a few samples. Of maple syrup (although they were in the small cups I associate with Jello shots). My favorite was the commercial grade dark variety, but they didn’t have any for sale at the moment (although they hoped to have some at the end of the season). It was so deeply flavored and had tons of caramel tones. OMG, are you thinking what I’m thinking? Maple Syrup Jell-O Shots!

They had a small table with some syurp to purchase. And thank goodness, they also took credit cards. I bought a quart of Grade A dark amber syrup for $17. I thought that was a pretty good price. Usually I balk at maple syrup prices, but I thought that was reasonable. Albany John (the maple syrup lover in our house) showed remarkable restraint and didn’t crack it open on the drive home. I’m usually of the Butterworth’s school of syrup (we all can’t be perfect), but this stuff was so good, I might be changing my tune to the real stuff.

A few days later, I used it to cure some salmon for hot smoking. Super easy. Slather salmon with maple syrup and some kosher salt, let sit for a day in the fridge. Put in stove top smoker for about an hour at 200F. Nom.

Tea-Smoked Chicken

CHICKEN! I’ve been really into eating chicken lately. So I marinated two legs, and just rubbed some salt on the others. Oh, and then I smoked it with some tea and rice and whatevs. After that, it was a quick pop in the broiler to crisp things up. Not too shabby.

I used my smoker, but you could just as easily line a wok or large pan with foil and do the same thing. I used one of these baggies of “Spice for Spiced Food” plus about 10 tea bags of Oolong tea, brown rice, and sugar. Not sure how necessary the sugar was, but every recipe I looked at called for it. The oolong was shitty and super finely ground and bitter. Next time I’ll use green tea or jasmine. Preferably better leaves, too.

Chicken two ways. On the left in a baggie are legs that have been marinating in a mixture of maltose, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, black vinegar (chiangking), and rice wine vinegar. You could easily use sugar or honey in place of maltose. I’m just trying to use up the maltose I have.

On the right are chicken legs rubbed with kosher salt, a dash of sugar, and crushed white pepper & Sichuan peppercorns. They sat in the fridge for about an hour before I smoked them.

Smoked, broiled, and purdy. Overall, it wasn’t too bad. But next time I’d try different leaves since they didn’t really taste like tea (but they did taste smoked).

My throat is a little scratchy now. Blah. But the chicken was pretty worth it.

Casola Dining Room – Irish Menu

I got to meet one of the area’s coolest dudes last year, Chef Christopher Tanner. He and his wife are an awesomely energetic couple who I met at a few different food events. He also happens to be a chef teacher at SCCC’s Casola Dining Room, and we talked about having the mister and me trying to swing by for dinner on one of the nights he teaches. Round the corner for tastiness.

We went on Irish week. How often do we think of Irish food as corned beef and cabbage, and some boiled potatoes? (Well, that’s the extent of the meals I’ve had with the anglo side of my family) Boring. I was excited eat during Irish week after seeing the items listed on the menu for the week.

Albany John and I got to sit with the lovely Mrs. Tanner and her parents. SOCIALIZING! YAY! We’ve been horribly boring/busy lately, and we’ve hardly had much time to, you know, talk with people other than each other, so we were really looking forward to meeting new people.

Bread course – some of the best Irish soda bread I’ve ever had. Seriously. My mom used to buy Irish soda bread every week near St Patrick’s day. Once she even went to the Rockland Bakery and was convinced it was the best stuff ever. To me it tasted just like every other kind of Irish soda bread I’ve ever had, which was dry, dense, and rather unpleasant.

Hot damn, I want this recipe. It was moist, crumbly and a little toasty around the edges, and slathering a slice of this with butter was freaking decadent.

Salaaaaad! Albany John got a salad for his appetizer course – it had beets, greens, and fried nuggets of brie.

I got the smoked cod appetizer. SMOKED COD CAKE!! On a bed of lightly cooked spinach! I think it was spinach. Greens. At first I ate the greens and was like “Eh, it’s okay, but it could use a little salt.” And then I had the cod, and OMG it was a match made in heaven. Salty cod. Unsalty greens. AWESOMENESS.

I followed seafood with more seafood – wild caught salmon with… deliciousness. I think it was colcannon, or something like it. Mashed potatoes with some greens. And tart red cabbage.

Oh dear lord, I wish I could get salmon like this in a restaurant. The top was licked with salt, butter, and deliciousness. It was cooked juuuust right. Meaning, not well-done all the way through. The center of the cut had lovely bits of medium-done meat. So good. Brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my mouth. SCCC students, whatever you do when you leave school, PLEASE KEEP COOKING SALMON LIKE THIS.

Albany John got the pork belly. Pork belly! I’m so glad he got it, because this was the other dish I wanted a bite of. There was also lamb shepherd’s pie that sounded awesome, but no one at our table ordered it.

Chef Tanner, I WANT THIS RECIPE. This was soooo freaking good. And believe it or not, not too fatty. Yeah, there are layers of fat, but this dish wasn’t greasy. I could have easily housed a few plates of this.

Yeah, yeah, potato patties and carrots were there too, but the belly was the star. I’ve gotta figure out how to make this. Man, I’m still swooning.

DESSERT! I got the strawberry sponge cake trifle thing (sorry, my memory is terrible about the name). It was good, but there was some sharp liquor or liqueur at the bottom of that dish.

Albany John got the steamed pudding? Crap… I can’t remember what it was called. Sorry. But it was awesome. Like a very soft cake with toffee. And the ice cream was beer flavored. No, seriously, it really tasted like beer + ice cream. Not sugary sweet, but rather a nice foil to the sticky-sweet cake. Albany John wants beer ice cream now.

Dinner was such a blast! Thanks for having us, guys!

Char Siu Brisket

My darling husband likes reading Cooks Illustrated. Christopher Kimball sometimes has some finicky statements. One was that the home cook had no point in cooking brisket, because it wasn’t worth the efforts. Albany John threw down some verbal gauntlets, and I thought it was a good time to test this theory out. Is brisket better off just cooked as a roast? Is the home cook better off not smoking the brisket?

Well, Albany John made a crock potted roast with the brisket. I’d never had uncured brisket. I’d only ever had it smoked or corned. It was quite lovely, but I can’t say that it’s all that different from any other kind of stewed meat I’d had.

Albany John cut half of the beef off to save for me and my smoking experiment (from 8 O’Clock Ranch). Any more than that for two people is just too much. This was a pretty lean cut, as far as brisket goes. I thought it was money well spent.

I had approximately 1 lb 4 oz of brisket to start with.

I popped it in a marinade (I’ll include a recipe for the marinade later) overnight and then put it in my lil stovetop smoker with 3 T of Cherry and 3 T of Red Oak wood shavings. I let it smoke for about 6 hours under 250 F.

And then this dark darling came out! I finished it off in the oven with some of the reserved marinade cooked down to put a laquer on it.

And wound up with this even darker beauty. There was a bit of smoke, but not a lot of smoky flavor. At least as much as I’d have liked, but I think I just need to increase the amount of wood chips I put in. There was still a small amount of smoke.

The meat was moist, and still firm. Thankfully I hadn’t cooked it past the firm stage and into the falling apart stage.

The marinade didn’t penetrate much of the brisket. Maybe it would need a longer time to sit and absorb, but it was primarily flavored at the edges. It was okay, but I think it would have been fine or better without much of a marinade. It was more like a hint of char siu flavoring. Maybe a simple salt and pepper rub next time.

I wound up with a smaller roast – it shrunk to 11 3/8 ounces. I sadly did not account for how much liquid the marinade added. But let’s just compare the starting and ending weight, shall we?
Beginning: 1.25 lb (100%)
Ending: .71 lb (56.8%)
Total loss: .51 lb (43.2%)
Wow! a 43.2 % loss of weight! Crazy stuff!
So my cooked 1/4 lb would have to start out as .44 lb! Almost half of a pound! I paid about $4.50/lb for this brisket, so it’s really closer to $6.50 per lb cooked. Yowie.
If I were a restaurant that served 1/4 lb portions of brisket in my sandwiches, and chared a 60% markup for overhead I would need to charge about $2.60 for the meat portion of the sandwich. Assuming my math is right, since lately my brain has been kind of dead.
Gung Hey Fat Choy, bitches! Usher in that year of the rabbit.

Smoked Lamb Riblets

Smoked lamb riblets. SMOKED LAMB RIBS. Two ways. Char Siu style, and dry rub style. Both delicious. Above is the char siu style.

Get ready for one picture-heavy post.

You know what, I’m getting a little ahead of myself, though. Here’s where it started. My lamb ribs from 8 O’Clock Ranch. A little over a pound. They sell for $2.95/lb. With shipping figured in, it’s around $4 for this package of lamby happiness. I’ve never even seen lamb ribs sold anywhere before, so I had to try them. This package contained two pieces of lamb ribs. One thicker and one thinner.

Did a dry rub for the thick cut. Here’s the gist of it:
Dry Rub for Lamb Riblets Recipe

a base of kosher salt (that you can’t see)
1 T Paprika
2 T chili or cayenne powder
1.5 t cumin powder
1 t onion or garlic powder
2 t black pepper
2 t Coleman’s mustard powder

This was a little on the salty side, but whatever – I like salt. You can adjust that part as you see fit. Really, adjust any and all of it. But the flavors worked really well overall. Just make sure you coat that sucker with as much as you can. Really pack it on.

So there’s the dry rub on the left, sealed in a baggie. The char siu lamb ribs are on the right. Here’s that:

Char Siu Lamb Ribs Recipe
1.5 T Maltose
1.5 T honey
1/4 – 1/2 t garlic black bean paste (or hoisin)
1.5 T soy sauce
2 T vermouth
white pepper
5-spice powder
1/2 t sesame oil

This was awesome, and I look forward to making it again for other cuts of meat. Maltose is kind of a bitch to work with – it’s got a tough texture to accurately measure. Just eyeball it. It’s like pulling candy to get it out, and needs to be warm to even think about blending it (otherwise it hardens up). You could just double up on the honey if you don’t have it.

Any way, I let them marinate in the fridge for a solid 12+ hours.

Then I pulled out my little red stove-top baby smoker. I sprinkled in 4 T of plum wood chips. I think they only recommend 1-2 T, but I wanted to blast these ribs with smoky flavor. I don’t taste as much smoke as I’d like with 2 T of wood chips.

After I got all that settled with the plum wood chips, I layered everything else up and plopped in the ribs.

Covered everything and set it to smoke over low heat, aiming to get it above 150 F and below 200F. The stove-top gods must have been with me that night, because my temps set pretty well. It took about half an hour to get up to the right temperature, and overall I’d say they cooked for 2.5-3 hours. I let the bigger dry rubbed ribs cook a half-hour longer than the skinny char siu rubs.

Oh, and don’t toss out your char siu marinade. Cook it down with some sugar syrup to make a glaze. I over-reduced it, so I had to add more water. Kind of annoying, but worth it when I finished them in the over, and brushed that goodness over it.

Ta da! All done! Just had to pop them in the oven to cook up a little more…

To get a browner crust on the char siu lamb ribs! Mmm – laquer finish.

And to dry out the top of the dry rub a little more.

Best buddies! You go, lamb riblets! Way to be delicious!

Here’s a cut of the char siu lamb rib. Nice & smoky inside. Look at all of that smoky pink interior! Now that’s what I’m talking about. These would be great in the summer, too. Smoking them inside would be great if I could finish them on a charcoal grill to crisp the outside and cook off more of the fat.

The plum wood chips were the way to go, too. Awesome flavor to complement the lamb meat.

Here’s the big dry rubbed guy. So yummy! So pink! So fatty, but so worth it! I can’t wait to try these out again when I have access to a charcoal grill.

Chico’s BBQ

Went out to Chico’s BBQ (2490 Western Ave, Albany, NY) with some friends who told me that Chico’s had some awesome wings.

They are some pretty awesome wings. Smoked, and then either fried or served “Chico Style”. I got Chico style wings, which are smoked, tossed with hot sauce, and finished on the grill. Oh yas pls!

They skins had a very nice char to the outsides, and a pink coating of smoky proof on the meat inside. These were delicious. Oddly enough, they only do hot sauce though, so if you want Chico style wings, you’ll have to be okay with hot sauce. But the hot wasn’t really that hot. I got through them okay, and you guys know what a spice wuss I am.

The meat was very tender and moist – almost like breast meat, but in a really good way. The skins picked up a little crisping from the grill, and also had a nice chewiness from being smoked.

Either way, quite nice. The wings were quite sizeable as well, and I got a bunch of the wing portions in my order. I like the wing part with two bones over the drumette. I think it might be because there’s more skin, or maybe it’s just a tad moister. Either way, I was happy to see a large population of them. Orders of 10 are $7.99, quite fair for these smoky bad boys. I think they will be included in my “favorite wings in Albany” mental categorization from here on out.

The blue cheese sauce was fine, but paled in comparison to the glory of the smoky chicken wings. It had chunks of blue cheese, but really – we’re talking two competing flavors, so I tended to skip blue cheese dip and just savored the smoked chicken wings.

Now I need to give the fried variety a try, because there was audible crackling coming from those chicken wings with each bite. That’s definitely a good sound.

In true chicken wing lemming form, I ate 5 wings before asking for a to-go box. Hey, it was half of an order, okay? And I’m recovering from a stomach bug. Le sigh. I don’t get why I have such trouble eating wings when I order them out, but at least Albany John will get to sample some of their tastiness.

Dino BBQ

Went to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Troy after picking up the Bro-in-law from the bus station from the city. He and Albany John still had to check the place out. Service was great – really friendly, no rush.

The three of us split the 2 person appetizer sampler ($9.99). 2 deviled eggs, 2 grilled/smoked chicken wings (the drumettes), some spicy boiled shrimp, and 2 fried green tomatoes.

Shrimp were good. Spice powder was on the outside, so it didn’t carry very much after peeling them. They were served coldy, cold, cold and had just the right snap to ’em. I’d actually get them again.

Albany John lurved him some deviled eggs, and he and his bro really liked the wings. I wasn’t much a fan, but that’s more because I like my wings to have some kind of crispy or taught skin to them. They kind of melted off on these wings. But whatever, cause Albany John thought I was crazy for not loving them.

Really liked those fried green tomatoes, and whatever buttermilk kind of dip they had for them. I want, like, 800 more of them. They weren’t the least bit greasy, and were plenty crunchy. Yum. Yes, please.

And then I stopped taking decent pictures. But CVS my Bro-in-law got a platter. The cornbread was definitely old, but we were there at the end of the night, so I guess it’s kind of expected to get the rock hard old ones. I still can’t shake the feeling that I wish they’d give you just a touch more food, but my bro(in law) CVS made a good point about a meal he and his fiance/my buddy Maka had at 5 Guys.

Long story kind of short, she didn’t know that regular orders were double burgers, so she ended up ordering them both double burgers and they couldn’t come close to finishing the fries. It was so much food for the money, he thought that the portions at Dino BBQ were … responsible (in comparison to the 5 Guys experience). I guess I can see that. But part of me just equates BBQ to generous portions.

Albany John & I went for sandwiches. He got a brisket sandwich with blue cheese and carmelized onions. I thought about this one, but the combo seemed like it could be either REALLY good or REALLY bad.

I tried a nibble of brisket, but eh. It was okay. Not really smokey, even though it had the pink ring and everything. Not really beefy either. I like Captial Q’s brisket better.

The combo of blue cheese & caramelized onions? I, uh, did not less-than-three it. This was just a personal preference. Albany John really liked it. Just a little too many potent flavors. Those caramelized onions were caramelized into a sweet brown pile. I have neurotic issues with the combination of sweet and savory, so yeah. My bad.

None of the sides seemed to call me, so I just got a sandwich. Hot link for this lady, thanks! I think it was about two links of sausage with onions and pimento cheese. I liked the grind of it, and the snappy casings on the sausage. Can you see the grind on it? Nice and thick. They cut the sausages in halves to make an easier-to-eat sandwich. A few lightly sauteed onions. And their pickles on the side.

When I first got the sandwich, all I thought was “Man, that is a lot smaller than I thought it would be.” Props on the bread – I think it’s a bun from Bella Napoli (right down the road from them). Lightly sweet and super squishy. I like this bread. Just maybe a little overwhelming with the sausage, and I love my bread. It was just a bit too bready of a sandwich overall. Maybe more sausage or less bread? Thinner buns?

I thought the pickles on the side were great, too. Definitely an apple cider vinegar brine. I just would have liked more than two little coin-sized slices of pickle.

Pimento cheese was not bad, but Albany John really didn’t like it. I kinda dug it though.

Overall, I’d say the only thing that I really, really like at Dinosaur BBQ are their ribs. I’ll definitely keep coming back for them, but I wish they’d sell them without sides. Does anyone know if they’ll just sell you a rack of ribs, or ribs without sides?