There are a few things in life that I take extremely seriously; family, friends, dental hygiene and barbecue. Friends and family is a given but can you believe that 75%* of the Canadian population suffers some sort of periodontal gum disease? More importantly more than 80%* of all all barbecue aficionados will at one point in their lives eat bad barbecue.
I love barbecue, I’m confident to say that I’ve probably eaten my weight in delicious ‘cue. Being said, I am equally confident to say that I’ve eaten the weight of a small child in bad ‘cue as well. I’ve traveled to explicitly eat barbecue and have dined at some of the best spots around. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that there was a new barbecue joint opening in town – Prime BBQ Co.
Located in NDG, Prime BBQ Co. boasts on their website, “New BBQ concept with Smoker!” – Whatever that means. Being a bbq joint, having an actual smoker isn’t much of a novel idea more than it is something assumed, no? Off the bat, their menu is extensive. From sandwiches to platters to fried chicken and seafood. So what better way to sample the menu than to take on the Pit Boss platter.
The Pit boss platter for two (comes in a serving for four as well and is priced at “MP” – Market Price) includes, brisket, pork ribs, smoked chicken, pulled pork, a side of fried, bacon Brussel sprouts, fries and coleslaw.
Smoked brisket, the king of barbecue cuts. Who doesn’t love brisket? Apparently who ever made this one doesn’t. It was dry, over cooked, and devoid of any moisture. Granted, the slices were from the flat of the brisket (leaner section of the muscle), but there are ways to cook it to retain the juiciness of the meat. This was not the case.
Difficult to eat, let alone lift off the plate – it literally fell apart and reduced to rubble at the foot of the pile of roasted sprouts. The meat was glazed with sauce that looked dry – perhaps returning the meat to the smoked AFTER it’s been sauced? I’m not sure. The flavour of the sauce was nice, but wasn’t enough to re-impart moisture into the meat. The texture was unpleasant, gritty.
The ribs looked delicious, but once we tired to cut into them we realized, this rack was the Monet of the BBQ world – good from far, but far from good.
Impossible to cut because the meat peeled apart like coconut husk. Dry and disappointing.
The saving grace of our meal. The pulled pork. Naturally fatty and inherently juicy, they would have had to let this sucker sit in the smoker for a couple of days for it to meet the same fate as the ribs and brisket. Tossed in Prime BBQ Company’s signature sauce, the pork was flavourful. The chicken however, was overcooked. The skin was nice and crispy though, maybe they were going for jerky on a stick…?
The bacon Brussel sprouts were great. Candied bites of smokey homemade bacon tossed with the sprouts were tasty and delicious. Fries however, were undercooked and unpleasantly flaccid. The creamy slaw was creamy slaw. Cool and tart that help cut through the heavy smoke inundating your palate.
Full disclosure: this is my second time to Prime BBQ Co. The first time I visited was a couple of weeks after opening. The Food was similar the first time around as the second. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and chalked it up to “working out the kinks”. This was seven months ago in December. That’s why I made a conscious effort to revisit – it could only get better… right?
Along with the Pit Boss on my fist visit, we also tried the fried chicken. Delicious! The meat was juicy and tender and the batter was seasoned nicely and complemented the flavour of the chicken. Does it taste the same seven months later? I don’t know, I didn’t order it this time around. I hope it does because it was one of the better fried chickens I’ve had in a while at the time.
The ribs suffered the same fate as the brisket, extremely overcooked and drier than a summer day in Africa. To its credit, the flavour was nice on the ribs and pork, but having the two prime staples of barbecue (brisket and ribs) bust harder than a Marc Bergevin trade was hard to swallow. The service was nice, our server was attentive and courteous which made up somewhat for the lackluster food, but at the end, it’s the food that needs to stand out. When you think barbecue, you think brisket and ribs. Please, try to at least get one of those right. ‘Cue is a dangerous game to play, when it’s done right, it’s amazing, when it’s not, it’s easy to point out. I love barbecue and wanted Prime BBQ Co. to smoke the competition. Unfortunately, the only thing they smoked, was their contention of being one of the best.
Prime BBQ Co.
*Percentages and stats are made up.