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Friday
Jun172011

Dinner at Dinosaur BBQ

  • Restaurant  Dinosaur BBQ
  • Cuisine  BBQ + all the fixin's
  • Location  700 W. 125th St. (at Riverside Drive), Harlem 
  • Phone  212-694-1777  
  • Directions  Hopstop
  • Atmosphere  casual, transporting, spacious, full bar, outdoor seating
  • Attire  casual
  • Ideal for  small and large groups, 1x1, foodies
  • Price  affordable to moderate

On days when I tire of all of the bullshit that can be Manhattan, it's so refreshing to know that, merely a subway or bus ride away, I can find myself in a different neighborhood or borough.  Case in point, Harlem: my friend, Michelle, just moved to the area and, instead of meeting at a restaurant downtown, I suggested that we grab dinner in her new neighborhood.  Leading up to our date, Michelle repeatedly asked if I was sure that I wanted to come Uptown.  And on each instance, my response was always the same: I explained what a "breath of fresh air" it was to escape, even for a couple of hours, the sometimes suffocating intensity of life below 125th Street.  Harlem allows me to smile, think, dance, and, most importantly, exhale.  The neighborhood also brings about a sense of home/nostalgia by way of its many Southern-influenced restaurants and, in this particular case, BBQ.

I had been familiar with (to a point) - and even sampled some of their pulled pork at the Big Apple BBQ 2010 - Dinosaur BBQ for quite some time, but it wasn't until this past Wednesday evening that I was finally able to partake in the full-on, whole hog, 25+ napkin experience.   At the actual establishment.

After a quick subway ride uptown - followed by a 3-minute walk to the restaurant - it dawned on me that every one else + their mother/cousin/pharmacist/you-name-it had the same idea as me, Michelle, and our other friend, Vera: Dinosaur BBQ was bursting at the seam with hungry patrons of all ages.  Luckily, its casual and rustic space was large enough to seat and, eventually, feed us all. 

Choosing to forgo the 45+ minute wait for a traditional table, the three of us decided to sit at the bar.  And after receiving our first round of ice-cold Blue Moon's, we perused the lengthy menu and came to the mutual decision that we'd split a handful of appetizers and one combination plate.    

Le menuJumbo BBQ Chicken Wings

When Vera suggested 'wings for one of our appetizers, I objected.  "They're messy, meatless, and stupid," I griped.  Michelle agreed.  But Vera stood firm, eventually convincing the two of us that Dinosaur's 'wings were the "best of the best, this side of Buffalo..." and that, after just one bite, these 'wings had the power to convert us naysayers in to believers. 

Vera was right.  The 'wings were shockingly interlaced with a decent amount of meat and bathed in the most ridiculously smokey, slightly spicy, delicious sauce that I've tasted in a long time.

...And would you believe who fought over the last 'wing?  Me and Michelle!  Go figure.

Cornbread

I would have appreciated if our waitress, knowing that we were splitting everything, had brought us a third piece of cornbread.  Two individual portions made for an awkward split between three people.  With that being said, the cornbread, itself, was nothing to write home about.  I was disappointed that it was not accompanied by some sort of butter and/or honey.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Aside from the incredibly random pecorino-romano cheese shreds (Seriously? Atop fried green tomatoes?), this plate of fresh-from-the-deep-fryer, warm, crispy-but not greasy, green t'maters proved to be the perfect batch.  The accompanying cayenne buttermilk ranch dressing was the crowning glory.  Had I not been dining with two model-esque girlfriends, I would have ordered a second helping.  No questions asked.

Extreme Sampler

The combination platter that we chose to split was composed of three meats: sliced Texas beef brisket, 1/2 chicken (leg, thigh, breast), and 1/2 rack of pork ribs; plus our choice of two sides: macaroni and cheese, Syracuse-style salt potatoes. 

The verdict?

  • Beef brisket: Way too fatty and lacking that rich smoky flavor - I prefer my brisket lean.
  • Chicken: Since Vera doesn't eat red meat, this was her portion of the platter, which was fine 'n dandy by me.  I didn't even touch the chicken.
  • Pork ribs: Excellent!  Best pork ribs I've had in NYC.  Rich, smoky, meaty, all-around finger lickin' good!
  • Mac 'n cheese: Served lukewarm and made with an awkwardly pungent cheese blend.  Definitely worth skipping.
  • Potatoes: "Syracuse-style salt potatoes" sound pretty intriguing, no?  Well, they're nothing more than boiled new-potatoes drowning in butter.  Again, definitely worth skipping.

As if all of the above was not enough grub, the three of us decided to split not one, but two homemade desserts. 

Key Lime Pie

There's something magical about the flavor combination between a buttery graham cracker crust and a sweet 'n sour key lime curd. 

Although Michelle and Vera thought that the key lime filling was too "runny," I appreciated the fact that this dessert wasn't served stoically-firm and ice-cold.  What's wrong with eating your key lime pie with a spoon, anyways? 

Peanut Butter Pie

I had no idea what I was in for, as this particular dessert is not something that I would have otherwise ordered.  One bite, however, and I was hooked: this peanut butter gut-bomb stole the show!  The crust was composed of crushed Oreo cookies and topped with a dense, whipped, salty-peanut butter filling that wasn't overly sweet.  The pie was crowned with halved peanuts, homemade chocolate sauce and whipped cream.  I'd return to Dinosaur solely for a slice of this pie.  Trust me, it's destination worthy!

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

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