We were on our way to Buffalo, although this time I was with a different gang – this time, I was with New Democrat colleagues.
Lunch time was rapidly approaching, and most of the guys in the car were getting annoyed with Axl’s quality singing. Despite the fact that they have no musical ear, I accepted the proposal to stop in Syracuse for lunch – Michael knew a barbecue joint that would rock our socks more then Axl, apparently.
So here we were in downtown Syracuse, pulling in front of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.
(Click on the picture to get a feel for the location!! First Waffle movie ever!)
The joint (now with locations in Harlem and Rochester) was opened in 1983 by three bikers, bound together by “the love of good food, a 55 gallon drum cut in half, and a serious case of wanderlust”. What could possibly go wrong with that?
The sign was clear: this was a genuine rib joint. Blues music was pouring out of the outdoor speakers, and we happily walked into a packed place, even if it was past 1 pm already. And it got even busier later, people lining up and waiting for tables.
The cooks were busy in the kitchen, the waiting staff was not wasting time moving quickly from table to table, and the owner was happily shouting announcements in the sound system, standing in the Hostess Hut by the front door.
Thankfully, there was room for our party of five. The BBQ aromas were great, the menu offered many options, including some for our vegetarian organizer. (The other vegetarian chickened out, which is kind of weird for a vegetarian. Thankfully, we replaced him with a carnivore.)
We peered at the menu. Everything you expected was there. While we were thinking, we ordered a couple of pitchers of beer. With the beer, I suggested that we share a pound of their Drunken Spicy Shrimp Boil as an appetizer. Enthusiasm and cheers all around – it was going to be a fun weekend.
For 20$, we got about 40 shrimp, which were cooked in a boil of beer, old bay, cayenne, herbs and spices. They came with a side of habanero cocktail sauce.
The shrimp were big, tender, spicy. Impressive – though a tad messy, but it didn’t seem to bother us.
Then, another important decision faced each of us: what sides to choose from? And what sauce would you pick from the selection available on the table?
Each dish came with two choices amongst:
Mac & Cheese • Carrot Raisin Salad • Cole Slaw • Macaroni Salad • Tomato Cucumber Salad • Soup of the Day • Bar–B–Que Beans • A.K. Chili • Fresh Salad Greens w/ Bar–B–Blues House Dressing • Real Mashed Potatoes with Gravy • Black Beans & Rice • Rice & Gravy • Fresh Fruit Salad • Applesauce • Cottage Cheese • Fresh Veggie of the day • Fresh Cut Fries.
Depite the fact that their fries are cooked in 100% Canola oil – “Zero Trans FAT Crapola” – I went ahead with the Cole Slaw and the Bar-B-Que Beans to accompany my main meal: The Tres Hombre!!! A spirited serving of pulled pork, some sliced Texas-style Beef Brisket, and ribs!!! And all that came for only $15.95!!! Much cheaper then the, oh so tempting High Time Special: A Full Rack of ribs plus a bottle of Dom Perignon for $195.00…
Now, that was some good Bar-B-Que! The pulled pork was great, tender, moist. I added some of their sauces here and there, to give it a little more zip. It was fantastic, and there was lots of it. The ribs were great – they marinate them for 24 hours with a spice rub; then they are slowly pit smoked and lightly glazed with their Sensuous Slathering sauce. They were meaty, perfect tenderness without staying on the plate when you picked a bone. The brisket was disapointing – a small smoke ring, though the smoky flavour was present – but it was a little dry, and I guess I prefer the texture of bigger, juicier slices – at Dinosaur, they are thin sliced. It was, however, plenty of food.
The sides were not bad. The cornbread was a bit too moist for my taste, but the coleslaw was creamy and a little spicy, and the beans were tasty, but a little runny. Not a homerun, but not bad nevertheless – and besides, that is not why we stopped.
Pat went for the Traditional Sampler (left – ¼ chicken, ¼ rack of ribs, beef brisket) with mac & cheese and fries on the side. Michael chose the pulled pork and ribs combo (right), with a side of mac & cheese and coleslaw.
Marc-André didn’t want Michael to feel bad and chose the same thing (left), but he went for the fries and oddly, the cucumber and tomato salad. Perhaps he wanted to fit in with his neighbour, Rick, who ordered the Fried Green Tomatoes and by fried, they meant crispy fried, topped with shrimp, romano and cheddar cheese and served with a ranch sauce. On the side, mac & cheese again (I tried it – it looked creamy and cheesy and it was excellent – my choice next time) and the soup of the day – a crab bisque.
This was a great pit stop. Sure, it is a bit out of the way, and you risk arriving in a packed place after trouble finding parking, but this was simply great and a lot of fun. Dinosaur, I’ll be back.