Friday, January 26, 2007

Dining critic candidate No. 40


When my friend, a skilled but amateur BBQist from Texas, came to visit recently I knew there was only one place to go for dinner; Birddog BBQ. I felt obliged to show my visiting friend that great BBQ can indeed exist outside of the BBQ obsessed Lone Star state. And exist it did. At least it did before we devoured it all.

Located at 5984 Stetson Hills Boulevard, Birddog BBQ has many different items, but they mostly fall into two categories; meat and sides. Of the meat, they serve pork ribs, beef brisket, turkey breast, chicken halves, hot links, polish sausage, pulled pork, prime rib and chicken tenders. Aside from the chicken tenders (which are frozen and fried), all of the meats are expertly prepared and smoked on site by one of the two owners, Neal Ellis and Brad Cleveland, or a trusted employee trained in the sacred arts of BBQ. Birddog BBQ uses oak and not the typical hickory or mesquite. The result is a succulent, uniquely flavored meat tender enough to eat with your fingers and delicious enough to eat without either one of Birddog BBQ’s two delicious BBQ sauces.

Of course, just because you can eat it without sauce does not mean you have to. Birddog BBQ’s mild sauce is flavorful without being overbearing, just sweet enough to enhance the smoky flavor of the meat but far from saccharine. Their hot sauce, my personal favorite, is spicy enough to make you notice without being painful.

For sides, Birddog BBQ offers fried okra, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, coleslaw, potato salad, French fries and baked beans. Be warned though, not all sides are created equal. Prepared early and left to sit in a warmer tray, Birddog’s steak fries can be soggy and stale. Also, the corn on the cob is boiled, not roasted, which makes it taste a little bland, not to mention visually unappealing when compared to the rich colors and textures of other items. Instead of fries or corn, get the beans prepared with Birddog’s own sauces and hearty chunks of beef brisket. And with those beans, grab an order of coleslaw or potato salad. These are real BBQ sides and Birddog’s are delicious.

All of these items can be ordered individually, by the pound for catering or, the best deal, as part of a plate. For $9.75 you get two sides and one meat of your choice. For the hungry, add $1 and get one more meat. And for the ultimate BBQ lover (or just someone wanting leftovers) add $2 and get two more meats. With each plate a nice piece of Texas toast is complimentary. Additionally, Birddog offers sandwiches and what they have dubbed the ‘shotgun spud’ – a baked potato piled high with brisket, pulled pork or turkey.

A note for the New Year’s dieters – use the sauce sparingly on one of these spuds and you have a delicious way to get a high protein BBQ fix without all the fat.

The dining area of Birddog BBQ is simple and clean in a fashion that matches their cafeteria style serving bar. However, I recommend that you get Birddog to go. Unlike so many other restaurants offering to-go orders that get cold by the time you get home and then can not be reheated without significant damage to taste and texture, Birddog is juicy and tender enough to taste almost as delicious heated up in your oven at home as it is served fresh. By doing this, you can put your elastic waistband pants on (the ones you’d never wear outside the house) and dig right in without having to worry about wiping your face and fingers in between each bite – what a waste of valuable BBQ eating time that would be!


Anonymous Submission Reviewer said...

Unfortunate that two reviews of the same restaurant would be next to each other. This review would have looked better by itself, but pales in comparison with #41.

Good food and location descriptions, but the writing was plaugued with grammatical stumbling blocks. No listing of hours. Good pricing information. Useful inclusion of personal observation bordering only lightly on wordy exposition.

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great explaination of the avaialable food items. I appreciate the fact that you mentioned the choices for dieters.

8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great example of what a food critique should be; concise,
accurate and expressive.

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mvBeing new to the area, I really appreciated this critique. I definitely enjoy BBQ and agree that I had thought it wouldn't be good outside of the south. Always up for trying new places, I appreciated the various items that were mentioned, showing the variety the location had to offer. The thing I appreciate most about this critique of the resteraunt is that it shows a real person's perspective, as if a friend had recommended it. And those tend to be the placest I try first.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a great review- funny but informative and concise. I like the price listing and the fact that the reviewer would take his guests there.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great review!!! It makes me hungry for barbeque, which I rarely crave. The description of the variety of meats and sides is enough to make me want to try this location. I have had some good BBQ, having visited Memphis in May, a yearly BBQ competition, so I think I will try this place sometime soon. Thanks for such an informative review. I liked that there wasn't too much fluff and appreciated the inclusion of prices.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome review! I really appreciated the details given. It made me feel like I was there, except my fingers are clean and I'm hungry for BBQ!

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well written and honest review. Thanks for the tip on taking Bird Dog to go-with today's ridiculous portion sizes, I'm always concerned about wasting all the extra food-good to know I will get my money's worth even if I take it home!!

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great review!
You've got a great sense of humor that makes your review interesting as well as informative.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Warren Epstein said...

FYI. "submission reviewer" is not associated with the Gazette.

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I liked best about this review was that you described everything about the restaurant in ways that I can picture it perfectly in my mind. You covered all the bases that people are interested in. I loved the conciseness, but also the humor, but the best part was that you were genuinely nice and caring about the place. Way to go!

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what that first reviewer is talking about. Critic 41's was way longer than this one and had so many errors it was difficult to read. This one was funny, accurate and well written.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading through all of the other reviews, I thought this one was the best. Very well written and sounds very professional.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous #40's Mom said...

I would like to give a personal Thank You to all of my child's friends that commented. Although the comments were really obvious and over-the-top, my kid needed the self-esteem boost. You all are the BEST!!!

1:38 PM  

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