Thursday, February 01, 2007

No. 41 rewrite

Barbeque at the Bird Dog

I’ve been hearing for weeks about Bird Dog BBQ so when I noticed the article inviting people to send in their reviews I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to see what the fuss was all about. I looked up the address on the Internet, called a friend to meet me there and off I went on a barbeque adventure. The restaurant is in a strip mall, and although I might be leery of eating some foods in a strip mall, the best barbeque can sometimes be found in the least likely places.

I opened the door and was greeted with the wonderful smell of smoked meats, which immediately put me at ease. If you love barbeque, you're familiar with this wonderful smell. Bird Dog BBQ is a counter service establishment. I hadn’t been prepared for that, but I’m a girl who can roll with the punches. The upside of counter service is that you don’t have to worry about bad table service. The restaurant has a smallish dining room with seating for about 64 at both tables and booths. The tables are covered with pictures of customers’ dogs which helps to give the place a welcoming, neighborhood feel. There were a couple of TVs on showing reruns of Seinfield which was a nice change from the usual sporting events offered at every other place with a TV.

The menu is chock full of your barbeque standards: pulled pork, chopped or sliced brisket, ribs, baked beans, coleslaw as well as a couple of surprises such as prime rib and a Shotgun Spud (baked potato overflowing with chopped brisket). For this visit I kept to the tried and true standards. I ordered the 3-meat plate to get as broad a picture as possible for this article. I chose pulled pork, turkey and ribs with sides of fried okra and coleslaw. My dining companion ordered hot links, sliced brisket and half a chicken with sides of baked beans and a baked potato. Our plates were handed to us at the cash register and upon seeing them we knew we had over done it. There were mountains of meat and sides on each plate!

All the meats were moist and tender, and were served dry (without sauce) allowing the customer to use as much or as little of either the hot or mild homemade barbeque sauces. The ribs were smoky, flavorful and nearly fell off the bone. The meat was blackened on the outside and pink on the inside like a good smoked meat should be. The meat on this pork rib was so tender that it nearly melted in your mouth. The ribs were succulent and perfect. I’m not a big chicken person generally I find chicken dishes to be overcooked and dry. This chicken however was the most moist and tender I’ve ever tasted. The subtle smoky flavor was an enhancement of the chicken, it didn’t take over and distract from the texture and juiciness of the meat itself. The hot links were impeccable, spicy but not overwhelming and bursting with flavor; probably the best I‘ve had. I’ve tried hot links at barbeque places from Colorado to Memphis and these were outstanding. The pulled pork and brisket were more than acceptable however; I would have preferred them on a sandwich instead of as entrée items. Neither meat lacked anything but there were more interesting menu offerings. Of all the meats we tried the turkey was the only let down. While it was juicy and tender, it was really lacking any distinct flavor. This was disheartening as everything else had been so consistently pleasing. Customers having control of their own barbeque sauce means one never has to worry about the sauce overpowering or drowning the meats.

The homemade barbeque sauce is offered in both mild and hot. Each sauce has a thick, sweet molasses base it’s a little bit tangy and has a hint of spice, with the hot sauce offering a bit more spice. Neither sauce is vinegar based so if that’s your idea of the ideal sauce this isn’t for you. The sauces are thick enough to coat, but not so thick they would overpower the meats. I found the sauces perfect and rotated my way though both with each bite as I couldn’t decide which I preferred.

In any meal the side orders are as important as the entrees. A great entrée can suffer when surrounded by sides that are not complimentary or are lacking in flavor and personality. The baked potato was medium sized and not over or under done. It comes with butter, sour cream, cheese or any combination of these. There’s nothing special here, it’s just a baked potato, but it was cooked well and is complimentary and that counts. The baked beans were tangy, and delicious with chunks of brisket baked in for additional flavor. The sauce for the beans was thick and at the same time both sweet and spicy. My companion enjoyed them so much that for most of his meal he dipped his meats into the baked beans instead of using any of the wonderful barbeque sauce provided. The fried okra was good, but not as exciting or delicious as it would have been made from scratch. Next time I visit I'll order a different side, I prefer something a little more exciting than I found the okra to be. The coleslaw was wonderful. Recommended by an employee at the counter, it was creamy and sweet with loads of cabbage and carrots.

The only truly disappointing part of our meal was the Texas Toast. Each meal comes with Texas Toast; however, I would have preferred not to have this on my plate. It was not as thick or tasty as real Texas Toast, but was rather the same size, consistency and flavor as inexpensive sandwich bread.

With all that we tasted we had no room for dessert. They offer a peach or apple cobbler and brownies without nuts each for only $1.00. I don’t feel too bad about missing dessert because is gives us a reason to go back.

The service as mentioned above is counter service; however even counter service boils down to service. The quality of service here was hit or miss. While placing our original orders the service was prompt and informative, if not overly friendly. Later, I went to request to-go containers and I had to compete for attention, not with other customers but with employees. This is a common problem in a great deal of businesses, when service staff gets distracted talking to friends or co-workers the service level takes a hit.

Overall, I found Bird Dog BBQ to be a clean, fast barbeque joint. The service is quick and the food is flavorful. Portion sizes should satisfy nearly everyone, with most taking home leftovers. Pricing is comparable with other barbeque restaurants in the Colorado Springs area. If you enjoy barbeque, you should go visit the folks at Bird Dog BBQ.

Bird Dog BBQ offers catering, kids meals, family meals and meats by the pound.

Bird Dog BBQ

5984 Stetson Hills Blvd Suite 200

Monday – Saturday 11:00am – 9:00pm

Sunday 11:00am - 8:00pm

Prices: $4.25 – 11.00

Credit cards and cash welcome

Checks are not accepted


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