Our first (and awesome) experience with Dinosaur Bar-b-que in Stamford was their opening party where we were treated to a buffet of meats and side dishes. We were able to get a real taste of Dinosaur and were very impressed with everything. But, being the good little OmNomers we are, we wanted to make sure we came back (um, a few times) to try things without all the opening hoopla so we could get the real experience everyone else would get.
The first time we decided to hit up Dinosaur it was Friday night at 9:40, so we thought we’d have no problem getting in, but, alas, there was a 30 minute wait. Yeah, this place is hot so it was quite busy. We decided to head to the bar and were greeted by a perky and fun hostess who asked if we wanted to be seated right away in a “secret spot.’ Duh. She shuffled us off to a somewhat private dining area by the side of the bar. A hidden gem, so now you’re in the know…you’re welcome!
The service that night was excellent! The food came out quickly, our waitress was super attentive and friendly and the food was amazing as ever. Everything from the meats to the sides were seriously perfect! With two great experiences under our belt, we decided to go back twice over the holiday break with friends and family and our brand new fancy camera! YAY food porn! Through our 3rd and 4th gorge fest we discovered some new favorites, and the service was consistently impeccable, but we also were just a little disappointed by some of the dishes that we had previously liked. Here’s the rub:
Dinosaur Ape Hanger Ale: made for Dinosaur Bar-b-que by Middle Ages Brewery in Syracuse was just $5 a pint and was worth every penny. It was wheaty and that beautiful taste lingers with you for a bit after you drink. Goes great with BBQ and is super easy to drink!
Jumbo BBQ Chicken Wings: BEST chicken wings EVER and winner of best wings in our 2012 OmNomys! Seriously! These bad boys are smoked for four hours then they are grilled. There’s such a beautiful smokiness and char around these wings with just the right amount of sauce. Ah. You can get them in Wango Tango (hot), Garlic Chipotle (hotter), Devil’s Duel (hottest), and the mild Honey BBQ or Sesame Hoisin. Even the hottest of these sauces aren’t too much to handle, but will definitely leave a nice burn on your tongue. But then again, we’re tough like that.
Dino Poutine: yes, Dino Poutine. This is one of the dishes that is unique to Dinosaur Stamford (the other being sausage and crackers). You get a plate of crispy hand-cut fries that are topped with their mildly killer pimento cheese, juicy pulled pork, and beef gravy. It’s no easy feat to keep the fries crispy even with the gravy on top, so nice work there Dinosaur. The pulled pork is tender, full of flavor, and moist, the cheese is milder than typical pimento and melted nicely, and the gravy is earthy and not too thick. This was one of the best dishes of the entire night. You’ll never see poutine the same way again.
Brisket: smoked for 14 hours flaunting a sexy little smoke ring. Yeah! It’s also served with jalapeño, adding a nice heat and contrast with a snap. The first three times we went the brisket was delicate and pulled apart amazingly. On the last visit, though, we were very disappointed when the brisket came out dried out. We had told our friends it was the best brisket around and were shocked that this was just like any other brisket we’ve had ’round these here parts. We’ve tasted how awesome the brisket is here, so we’re hoping they straighten out the cook times to be consistent.
Chicken breast and wing: moist, a nice char on the outside, producing a yummy crispy skin. The sauce on top (Mojito marinade and BBQ sauce) was sticky and was just the right amount. The chicken was cooked excellently and is probably one of the juiciest we’ve ever had at a BBQ joint.
Ribs: they were saucy with a nice skin. While our first two experiences and our last one with the ribs were awesome and perfectly cooked, the third time they were overcooked. The meat was very tough and fell off the bone without even a tug…a sure sign of overcooking. Again, we hope they’ll be able to get some consistency going so they are as good as we know they can be all the time.
Mac and cheese: fantastic, creamy, thick, and spicy. Just how we like it. Also has a little kick with their Cajun Foreplay sprinkled on top. Delish!
Crispy coleslaw: good, very fresh, and crispy. There was a nice amount of pepper and the mayo wasn’t too thick, either. We’d like to see a bit more tang added for an extra bite and for a good contrast in flavors.
BBQ Beans with Pork: there’s a nice spicy kick here with a good smokiness. The consistency is a bit soupy, but the flavor is great.
Turkey Neck Greens: little flecks of turkey neck meat are spread through the greens. As for the greens, they were what you’d expect if you ordered greens. Yes, they were bitter, but we were still hoping for more flavor and seasoning.
We really love Dinosaur Bar-b-que overall and had mostly positive experiences…very positive. It would have been perfect, but there were a few disappointments with the quality consistency of the ribs and brisket that we hope they iron out as they get in a pattern there. Where Dinosaur Bar-b-que also really shined was with the service. We’ve been impressed with how quickly the food arrives to your table, course by course and how friendly and attentive the wait staff is. Remember that you can make reservations on Open Table, which might save you from a headache and that gnawing feeling in your gut when you smell the smokey-awesomness in the air and you can’t wait even one more minute.
Noms: 4 (we’ve been back a few times and had some inconsistently cooked meats, making us lower it from 4.25)
Cost: $$$ (though is on the cheaper end of the BBQ scale here in Fairfield County)
Address: 845 Canal Street
Stamford, CT 06902