Review by Wraith6
I love barbecue and I have for years. Early in my life, barbecue meant cooking food outdoors on a grill, over either gas or charcoal. A slab of meat was tossed over the high heat till it was overcooked. How ill-informed I was! Until I moved to the United States I was blind, but now I see ...
True barbecue requires meat preparation, long slow cooking, and usually an elaborate sauce that most barbecue cooks would NEVER divulge the ingredients for, even on their deathbeds. I always thought it was just a guy thing, but no ... I've observed, and it seems to be part of the culture. Women can be as bad as men.
So when I was told to travel to Rochester for a business trip, I was told by a colleague who shares my culinary obsession to visit Dinosaur BBQ. They have two locations: Syracuse and Rochester, both in western New York State.
Dinosaur BBQ is housed in the old railway station in Rochester which was built in 1905. Half of the building is on terra firma, while the other half is supported on a platform held up on stilts over the Genessee River, which cuts through the heart of downtown. The building itself is a wonderful Victorian structure with dark wood paneling inside, and has nice large rooms, as it was designed as a train station. There were three main eating areas: the bar, a smaller side room, and the main dining area which looks out over the river. (I know eating in a bar doesn't sound like it'd be compatible with a good meal, but due to the recent non-smoking laws passed in New York State, there is no smoking within the building. So the bar area is simply noisy instead of noisome. The din only adds to the ambiance.
I was due to meet a friend there at 6pm but I managed to finish my work obligations early. Yeeha, I could arrive an hour early at Dinosaur BBQ to scope it out!
I started in the bar with one of 20 beers-on-tap. The offerings are a good mix of domestic, international and local microbrews. At one end of the barroom there is a small stage where live bands perform almost every Thursday to Sunday. The favorite genres are foot-tapping blues and jazz, as well as de rigeur country/western. It was Friday, and though the music was good and I was having fun, I REALLY wanted to know what was going on behind the scenes in the kitchen. Since I didn't know when I'd be up here again, I I asked for a tour of the kitchen. The counter people at the take-out area were surprised, but a loud, cheerful, large person was standing in front of them. You can see them thinking, "If I say no, he'll hurt me ... if I say yes, the boss might be upset." But they were friendly folk and at last relented. I guess I caught them at the right time.
The kitchen is divided into three sections: the pit area, the main kitchen, and the plating area (or "pass" as it's called in the restaurant biz, according to our food editor). The pit area is outside -- not a surprise since authentic barbecue generates a LOT of smoke. They have wood and gas burning oven models. The wood burning and gas burning pride smokers handle the ribs and briskets, and an offset smoker handles chickens and other sundry items. The main kitchen handles all the preparations, side dishes, and slicing of cooked meats. The plating area does all the finishing work and plating of all the food for both the take-out and seated meals.
My date arrived as I was finishing my tour, so it was time to order. The food came and I slipped into food consumption stupor. I hope I didn't scare everyone around me. The food was lip-smackingly tasty and cooked to perfection. I had a half-rack of pork ribs with baked beans, cornbread, and chili as sides. I also got a Texas-style beef brisket sandwich. It usually comes with normal sandwich fixings, but I went with straight meat and sauce (tell the waiter your preference). MMmmmmmm ...
The key components of barbecue are the meat and the sauce. The species of animal supplying the meat depends on your location: Carolinians and other southerners like pork, Texans like beef (obviously!), Kansas City folk like ... um, who cares? Being not from these places, I am free to like pork ribs and beef brisket. The sauce is usually a tomato-based sauce with sweet and/or spicy notes -- I prefer a little spice. Dinosaur BBQ also makes their own sauces with a wide range of spicings to please any palate. They also sell these sauces individually, or in a sampling pack. I bought two packs, one for me and one for the colleague who recommended this place!
The biggest indication that Dinosaur BBQ is doing something right is the two-hour wait to get a table! People seem to happily endure this on weekend nights. Another indication are the six new barbecue places opening in Rochester riding on the coattails of Dinosaur BBQ; the advertisements for these new places even use the name of this place in their offerings. Descriptions like "Dinosaur flavor without the wait!" Maybe so, but everyone should try the original, don't you think? Be sure to come early and expect to wait. But spend some time to get to know the place and enjoy!
Disclaimer: The opinions and observations noted are the property of the author. Neither Wookieehut nor any associates makes any claims or lucre from the posting of this report or review. This webpage is presented by Wookieehut.com. Enjoy!