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The Healthier Barbecue

May 30, 2019

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and I have a history. It’s a different history than most. Because in Upstate New York, Dinosaur is legendary. But arriving to the Capital Region from the west coast, I had never heard of the operation when they opened their Troy location in the old abandoned Fresno’s on the banks of the Hudson.

Still, the hype was extraordinary. And I’m a sucker for the hype. Plus I was invited by AOA Greg to come out with him and the All Over Albany crew to try the place on opening day. To make the expansion of the restaurant empire a bit more special, Dino was creating location specific dishes. So if you wanted to try the smoked sausage, you had to come to Troy. Barbecue lamb was the signature dish at the Brooklyn opening.

Anyhow, I fell in love with that sausage. Then I fell out of love with that sausage. That resulted in a sit down meeting with John Stage himself, which was amazing, and we were back in love. Mostly though I was in love with the ribs. There were future sit downs with the executive chef, when he came out to Troy to conduct some trainings. Then I fell in love with their chicken. And most recently, Dino hosted an Official Yelp Event where some lucky members of the Yelp Elite Squad got a tour of the operation, and were able to see the smokers and learn more about their pit to plate process.

What I had not been able to try is Dino’s new lunch special. But just yesterday, I put another notch in my Dinosaur belt.

Now you may be asking how does barbecue square with the new healthy diet. Well, the only other things I had to eat that day were yogurt, granola, some walnuts, a few squares of dark chocolate, lentils, chickpeas, chicken broth, and black tea.

Okay, okay. I also had a small scoop of ice cream after lunch at The Dutch Udder. But that’s only because they are now open at noon, which is super dangerous, especially since I’m coming to realize that this may be some of the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. Don’t tell Jeff and Kem. I want them to keep making it even better and see where the journey takes them.

But back to barbecue.

So there’s a new lunch menu that’s only available on weekdays. It’s called Build Your Own Bar-B-Que or B.Y.O.B. for short. You know what, instead of telling you, I’ll just show you the menu. It will be quicker.

Here’s the thing. In the past I’ve criticized Dino’s brisket for being too lean. And I hate myself just a little bit for praising a leaner brisket, but dammit smoked beef is delicious. Plus the lunch portion is a very reasonable five ounces. Maybe it would have been healthier to get it on a soft corn tortilla, but I went open faced in some kind of attempt to reduce the quantity of refined grains.

The menu pretty much demanded I get horseradish sauce below the meat, and who am I to argue. Above the meat, I asked for whatever sauce was hottest. Because the only thing better than smoked brisket is spicy smoked brisket. And the whole thing was topped with sautéed onions and grilled poblano pepper strips.

For the sake of moderation, I did not “MAKE IT ‘EXTRA’” although I do kind of lament passing on the crumbled blue cheese. That would have been rad.

Sides can be a minefield at BBQ places, and even healthier options can be full of sugar. So I resisted the roasted whipped sweet potatoes and went with a double portion of simmered greens with smoked turkey. Because what’s healthier than half a plate worth of collards and mustard greens? That stuff will make you live forever. And the little bits of smoked turkey that studded these tender, dark leafy greens made them even better.

And there you have it.

Is it health food? It seems unlikely. However, I think it might be the most moderate treat one can get at Dinosaur and still consider it a treat. I didn’t feel deprived. I didn’t eat myself sick on fatty smoked meat, which has totally happened in the past. I didn’t feel like I needed a nap after lunch. And that delicious platter of food was just $13.

Really, I probably could have skipped the second helping of greens. It turns out there is a one side option. You know, for next time. And hopefully there is a next time, because taking the time on a sunny spring day to sit by the window and watch the water flow by was really a lovely way to spend the lunch hour.

I suppose there may be a healthier way of eating at The Memphis King too. But when I’m eating barbecue in Schenectady, you’ll find me all up in that tender, buttery, smokey brisket fat. Or, you know, picking out the meat from the fatty end of the sparerib. Let’s just say I’d feel more deprived there if I were trying to eat moderately.

Healthier doesn’t always better. But it can be delicious. Today I’ll just need to remember to eat plenty of yogurt and oatmeal in penance.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 30, 2019 10:11 am

    The only brisket I’ve had from Dino is their burnt ends, so I can’t attest to the leanness issue. But every brisket has a lean part and a fat part, and they may have been sizing you up as a lean guy without you saying so.

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