Saturday, January 11, 2014

Boston Deli Is Hit and Miss

Steph and I went to Boston Deli for her birthday dinner and were disappointed. It wasn't a complete fail but they seem to try hard at giving off that hip "I don't care" attitude that just doesn't work for me.  Here's how the meal went down. We arrived and after a few minutes were told to take any seat we liked. They were pretty busy, it was Saturday around 6pm, but not completely full and no one was waiting for a table. We sat there and Steph was beaming with anticipation since she had read every review, every article and asked all her friends to tell her about the BBQ Brisket Burger. She knew every nuance of that burger by heart and she was ready to dig into what she told me was "The Best Burger In Tulsa."  Ten minutes passed and our waiter came with our menus and took our drink order. Steph's glass of EOS Estate Zinfandel, a California wine, came soon after. It was very good for the price. A little more bold than I remember Zin's tasting but I haven't had one in a while. Boston Deli seems to always have a nice selection of wines. I ordered Mango tea which came about ten or fifteen minutes later along with the have you decided question from the waiter. They were out of ribs, the Saturday special, and the waiter didn't seem particularly interested in suggesting anything different. I couldn't decide at first but went with the Chile Gingered Pork Loin. My glass of tea went empty for about 20 minutes then they brought out some bread for the table. A slice of chile/jalapeno flavored, not too spicy just enough for flavor, and a slice seasoned with rosemary. It was tasty and fresh. The chile/jalapeno was a little dense while the rosemary was more light and chewy. I would have had a spinach salad but I forgot to order it and the waiter didn't ask, too busy needing to get back to their Iphone I suspect. We waited some time longer and they brought out our order. I'll start with the good, the Chile Gingered Pork Loin was fantastic. Nicely grill with a char on one side, perfectly cooked so it was still tender and moist. It sat on a bed of grits seasoned with Poblano peppers and was sauced with a little balsamic for sweetness.  They put some asparagus on top of the whole thing and dropped a couple leaves of cilantro on it for garnish. To the side was a roasted lime. I wasn't sure why the lime was there, it didn't have much juice in it since it was a bit dried out by the roasting. I squeezed what I could and took the first bite of my nearly fork tender pork loin.  The sweet balsamic, that little bit of char, the flavor of the pork and that spicy corn note from the grits all combined for a well balanced dish. That was the hit. Here comes the miss.

Steph's dish was sadly bad.  The house ground brisket tasted horrible from the drenching of Worstershire it was given. We both wondered why they didn't just let the meat speak for itself. I was surprised the chef sent it out really. The bacon and bun were top notch but unfortunately you couldn't enjoy them as the Worstershire overshadowed everything. To make things worse the fries weren't any better. Imagine the greasy, soggy fries you get at some burger joints. Now take those fries, let them sit for a while and then drop them in the grease again until they're crispy, a little burned and not particularly appetizing on a plate. Well they taste even worse. A little crisp crunch when you bite into a pocket of grease. Steph couldn't eat them. She was trying so hard to enjoy her Birthday meal, one that she had built up for at least a week. She did the best she could to say nice things about it but in the end she had to admit it wasn't good.  We were a little over half way through the meal when the waiter returned to see if everything was alright. What can you say at that point, it will take another hour if you try to send it back plus it's half eaten by then. Steph said everything was fine, I kept my mouth shut.

We skipped dessert given the slow service and being a little upset about the food and waited another 15 minutes for the check then a while longer to pick up the check and run the credit card and then a while longer to get the card back so we could go.  By this time the chef was looking flustered so perhaps the whole place was having a bad night along with us. It happens.

I'll probably try Boston Deli again but it's going to be while before I'm ready. At least we only wasted $50 bucks, could have been worse.

Boston Deli on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hebert's Specialty Meats gets 100% from this grump...

Yesterday Steph and I were talking about Cajun food after fixing a batch of Cajun Red Bean soup. Kelley was posting links to articles about mirepoix and a group of guys from New Orleans came in for lunch so I was determined to get some Cajun food on my day off.  Hebert's was perfect from beginning to end.  Steph ordered the fried shrimp and crawfish basket and I had the turducken po-boy.  We didn't ask if they breaded the fried foods inhouse but they certainly tasted homemade and fresh.  Just a hint of swamp water, in a good way, let us know this was the real deal.

My turducken sandwich was a masterpiece.  I was skeptical when I ordered it but after years of hearing about stuffing a chicken in a duck and then into a turkey I had to try this crazy concoction.  Delicious!  Big chunks of the three meats with just enough dirty rice that sang and danced across my palate.  The dirty rice flavors it perfectly. Subtle enough for someone that doesn't like spicy but not to fear they have a whole table of hot sauces to kick it up to eleven.  I used the traditional Tabasco this time but I saw a few others I'll be trying next time.

Hebert's also has at least a half dozen desserts. We had the Chocolate Ganache Peanut Butter pie.  It wasn't like most peanut butter pie we've tried, this thing is dense and rich.  The crust was flaky with a layer of chocolate and then a healthy layer of the peanut butter filling and finished with chocolate piped in a hatch pattern over the top.  Just the pie would make it worth going.

If there was an observation about Hebert's that could be seen as negative it would be the gentleman, I assumed it was the owner, is very loudly friendly to his Cajun or LSU friends but completely ignored the others in the dining room. It came across as he didn't care for the tourists.  I'll give it a pass this time.  The other observation is it's not really obvious how you're supposed to order/shop/get refills so don't be shy and just ask, everyone we talked to was pleasant and helpful.

In the end we left Hebert's happy and full of delicious food.  You can't ask for a better experience.

Hebert's Specialty Meats on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 19, 2013

BurnCo is more than just great barbeque...

By now I'm not going to tell you anything you probably don't know but here it goes anyway, did you know BurnCo has great  specials?  Today was smoked chicken and dumplings which were fantastic based on the sample we tried while waiting in line to order.  While we were eating we talked to several regulars and they raved about the French dip sandwich and the salmon.  I didn't find out if there was a schedule or calendar for these great specials but if you find yourself at the counter and they're out of your favorite smoked meat or sausage you might want to try something different by ordering a special.

Dave described the French dip as steak sliced not too thick, not too thin on a baguette, crispy outside with a soft yeasty inside, and a side of au jus that wasn't your normal thin salty brown water.  Think deglazing the pan that cooked the meat, adding a few spices, and reducing until it's nice and flavorful.  That's how I heard him describe it at least.  Yum!

Another guy, I didn't catch his name, told us about the smoked Salmon he had tried once.  His description was a rich, fatty, elegant offering that was the best he'd ever tried.  I think we're on to something here.

Joel, another BurnCo regular, loves the grilled potato salad.  It's not a special but it is unique for it's flavors.  I started out thinking pepper potatoes, like fast food pepper steak but with TexMex spices.  I ended thinking potato fajitas.  Potatoes, sweet bell peppers, onions and a little TexMex spice served up warm and delicious.  It went well with the Happy Plate Steph and I shared.
OK, may as well tell you about this giant plate of happiness.  First, BurnCo is very reasonably priced for the portions you get as in you aren't going to go away hungry.  Since it was our first time we wanted to try everything so the Happy Plate filled that order nicely.  A mound of pulled pork here, a mound of chopped brisket there, three kinds of sausage, their famous ribs, bologna and a big slice of "fatty" which is a sausage form of a turducken.  If you don't know the turducken just google it.  Let's just say we brought over half of this beast of a plate home with us for dinner.  The ribs were certainly the best in town.  That rub and their Hasty-Bake Legacy 132 Outdoor Grill and Smoker ovens make them tender and flavorful.  We sat there for twenty minutes just working through identifying and considering the various spices in the rub.

While overall I'd say BurnCo is arguably the best barbeque restaurant in Tulsa I'll have to admit I like certain meats at other restaurants in the area.  I suppose everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.  Still, BurnCo proves they are serious cooks with their specials menu, reasonable prices, hefty portions and willingness to let you try anything on the menu before you order.

I'll certainly be back for more as everyone else in lines out the door prove again and again, BurnCo is on its way to greatness.

Burn Co BBQ on Urbanspoon