I actually tried to ride the buzz of Dinosaur BBQ in 2010, but I turned myself away when the wait was 1 hour and 45 minutes at 4pm on Black Friday. My vow was that I was not going to try Dinosaur until 2011, and I didn’t wait long into the year to see what the buzz was about.
Cassie and I decided to go for it on Wednesday January 5 right after work. We arrived at the restaurant, which resides at 377 River Street in Troy, shortly after 5pm. Upon arrival, I sent Cassie in to probe the wait time while I tried finding parking. As I circled the lot, looking for a park to no avail, Cassie sent me a text that a table was available. I stopped the car and texted her back to tell her to take the table and that I’d be a few minutes looking for a park.
The parking situation is atrocious. I circled their limited lot for five minutes until I gave up and drove under the Green Island Bridge to the area where parking for Ryan’s Wake and other office buildings are. Just my two cents: if there is issues finding parking for customers when there are tables available, it doesn’t bode well for people who are told there will be a wait. Unless they are thrown by reputation or need to eat BBQ, they are going to drive away. And it’s not like there is a whole lot of street parking available within walkable distance. OK. There is an Uncle Sam parking garage which is free on weekends, but what about Monday through Friday?
While we waited to order, I was compelled to sample the sauces at the table.
Of the three sauces, the mango tango was my favorite. Their signature sauce has a hint of sweetness, but basically tastes like a tomato puree. Wango tango builds on this sauce by adding some heat from habanero peppers. The third sauce is just hot sauce and tasted no better than Frank’s Hot Sauce.
Onto the food…
I am currently on a ketogenic diet, meaning I am keeping my carbohydrates low. I’m currently in a phase where I can basically (within reason) eat as much meat as I want as long as my carbs are low. I figured BBQ would be the perfect style of dining for this diet.
With my diet in mind, I order an appetizer of six wings with their signature Devil’s Duel, the hottest, sauce. Instead of frying their wings, they smoke and grill them, and then toss them in the sauce. The wings arrived approximately 2 minutes after ordering.
The wings were good. They skin on the wings was thick, and they were fairly fatty, but, this aside, they carried good smoke flavor and held up against the sauce nicely. The sauce was an intense sweet heat. After four wings, I was definitely at the point of giving up on the rest, but I pushed along and finished all of the wings. In my opinion, if a higher quality of wings were used, these would have been great.
For a meal, I ordered the Pork and Brisket plate, which came with two sides. I chose coleslaw and chopped salad, intending to just pick at both for the sake of the review and focus on just eating the meat. Here is what arrived:
I did not order baked beans, but the kitchen messed up and gave me that. How do I know it was the kitchen? Two adjacent tables had problems with their sides over the course of my visit there, and there’s no way the same server would key in three different orders incorrectly. I could be wrong though, but I didn’t take it out on the server. Luckily, the food was served on plates with divisions, so the sauce from the baked beans, which are not my favorite food, never touched any of my other food. I nicely indicated that I was supposed to get chopped salad to the runner, and she immediately brought me this:
There is no scale reference in the picture, but the amount of salad in the paper boat could easily fit into my closed fist. I didn’t even bother with it.
The pulled pork, which I admit comes from a cut of pork which is known to be relatively dense in fat, seemed overly greasy and didn’t have the type of smoky flavor I’d attribute to good pulled pork. I sauced the hell out of it with Mango Tango sauce to choke it down.
The brisket was another flop. It was tougher than overcooked London broil, lacked any decent flavor, and, absent from the above picture due to the positioning of the meat, the fat layer on each piece of brisket easily accounted for 1/3 of the total volume. In my experience, good brisket is cooked with the fat layer (on top) and, prior to slicing, the majority of the fat is removed. This could have stood to lose 3-5 extra millimeters of fat.
The coleslaw was grainy, and I don’t know how else to really describe that. I don’t know if it was dry seasonings or what, but each bite of coleslaw felt like there was sand mixed in. I had to taste the beans since they were there. They were surprisingly good. It was almost like they mix pulled pork and extra BBQ sauce with a can of baked beans. The corn bread was a sad excuse. It was a small disc of unleavened, dense, dry cornmeal with absolutely no flavor.
I will list what Cassie ordered and add images in hopes that she will comment on her portion; I have nothing to say.
When we were finished, we had a good amount of food on our plates, enough to get the server to second guess our decision to not want doggie bags. She actually lingered around waiting for us to complain. I honestly didn’t have the heart to make her sit through this whole thing. I just wanted to pay and go.
I give Dinosaur BBQ in Troy a huge thumbs down. The parking situation is a joke. Their prices are higher than any respectable BBQ in the area. The quality of the food is embarrassing. And that’s assuming your food comes out the way you order it. The wings were a bright point, but could easily use some work.
If you have the urge to drive to that vicinity to eat BBQ, drive the extra five or so minutes up the road to Pig Pit. Here: I even mapped out directions from Dinosaur to Pig Pit just in case you make the mistake of pulling into Dinosaur’s parking lot.