Thursday, June 4, 2015

Review: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (Buffalo)

Review: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (Buffalo)

Okay, let me just say upfront that any barbecue joint that allows me in the back room to get a look at their smokers is probably gonna get a decent review. Hey, I have zero culinary kitchen cred or a reputation to protect, so I am open to influences (or bribes) by a great staff and pretty women, in addition to great barbecue.

So a special thank you goes out to Kitchen Manager Seth and our server Kallie for giving me a quick behind the scenes tour of Dinosaur's four mammoth smokers. Dinosaur is running two smokers that use natural gas to keep the pit temperature regulated and to provide a more moist heat for tender cuts of meat like their chicken. They also have two smokers that run strictly on wood as the heat and smoke source for the heavier beef and pork cuts. They are using all hickory wood in all four smokers and run them pretty much 24/7.

Okay smoke junkies, now on to the review.

Barbecue wings done right!
Getting a great smoked chicken wing can be a tricky thing, with many restaurants overpowering the actual flavor of the smoke with too many sweet sauces and char-grilling. Dinosaur however, banged them out perfectly with their Jumbo BBQ Wings appetizer. The texture of the wings were just right with a good chew and moist meat, and a beautiful color from the wood smoke. They were finished in a knee-slappin' sauce that was sweetened just enough with a hint of honey and a bit of garlic that gave them a nice finishing spice kick on the ol' palette. Unfortunately, they didn't offer the wing sauce as a bottle option on the table because we would have eaten it on everything. They do finish the wings on the grill before serving, but it was not overdone and preserved the integrity of the smoke and chicken flavors.

Dinosaur on Franklin.
At most places when you order pulled pork you usually get a heap of crap that looks like shredded mush, but don't expect that from Dinosaur. Wow, actual pork that looks freshly pulled and not massacred by a pissed off line cook and sitting in a warming dish for hours. The pork came with a spoonful of sauce on top and my first impression was that the sauce was a bit too sweet. I'm not sure if Dino is injecting their pork with some juices or brining the butts, but the sweetness of just the pork itself was enough for me. The texture and taste were done really well, and the meat didn't need sauce to stay moist. Because it was actually pulled, there were generous size pieces that you could grab and actually chew. Beautiful pieces of bark and pink color on the inside portions. Just a suggestion that you may want to order the pulled pork without sauce and take in all the great flavor of the meat and smoke first, and add the table sauces for more sweetness to your own taste.

Family Stylin' BBQ Platter.
Next up was the portion of ribs that came with our Family Stylin' BBQ platter. I personally think that ribs are the hardest cut of barbecue to get right and even harder to get consistently good results. So okay, the ribs we had that night at Dinosaur were average for me. The taste they got on them from the spice rub, complimented by the smoke and house sauce was good, but the texture of some of the ribs just didn't live up to the taste. I'm not a snob who will tell you that "fall off the bone" ribs are overdone, in fact, I like them that way, but a few of the ribs were way overdone while some of the rib bark was just too hard. This isn't unusual for ribs when you go to a restaurant later in the day, and I don't think it should be a reflection of how good a barbecue place actually is. It happens.

Fried green tomatoes were a hit!
Let me quickly touch on a few other tastings from the night. I did not taste them, but the girls swear that the Original Fried Green Tomatoes appetizer surprised them in a very tasty good way. I love my barbecue chicken, and the leg and thigh I had were just okay. I suggest the Wango Tango sauce to go along with it when you are there. The brisket was just not good that night. Sorry friends, but the texture was way off for what this cut of beef should be and the taste was bland.

Beside the back stage tour, here are a few other quick things that Dinosaur does right:

Beer selections. Genesee Beer, Genny Cream Ale, and Schmidt's. This is what belongs in a true barbecue joint my friends. I didn't see this selection (that they affectionately call "My Father's Fridge") until we wandered up to the bar after dinner, so had a couple selections off their pretty extensive beer list that includes many local and regional brews with my meal. I'm heading back for a bucket of Schmidt's though at soon as possible.

Turkey. I do not see their smoked turkey sandwich on the menu, but I have had this at various events around town where Dinosaur was serving up. Do not pass up a chance to have this when you come across them at a local event. They usually are a vendor at the Taste of Buffalo and the BBQ Blues Bash downtown each year. Check this sandwich out!

Atmosphere and live music. If you know me, you know that my idea of barbecue culture includes great music and a good time with friends. There are many roadside barbecue joints that serve up great food, but sometimes the night calls for a place that just gives a better social vibe to hang. Dinosaur has this. Just a relaxed, friendly place with a local feel that I will certainly hang out at more often. Next time, we will venture beyond the standard barbecue fare and dive into what else their menu has to offer. I'm sure it will be worthwhile.

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