Wow. They did it.
A couple years ago, I spent three blissful weeks doing a barbecue pit tour of the South. Are Dinsoaur's ribs on a par with the best of the best--Dreamland in Tuscaloosa and McClard's in Hot Springs?
No, of course not. But do they stack up against the next rank--say, Georgia Pig in Brunswick? Absolutely. M-a-y-b-e a shade below (I'd love to pop down and check!), but consider the context. These are the best ribs I've had north of the Mason-Dixon line--with the exception of Bub's in Sunderland, Mass., by far the best.
The place was packed at 9:30 p.m. Wait time for a table was announced at half an hour, but we were seated within 15 minutes. Service both at the bar and the table was excellent: efficient, knowledgeable, and superfriendly. The beer selection is great--with many micro- and midibrews by the pint (including my favorite, Abita Turbo Dog) at $4.50-$5.00.
The meal for two started modestly with a small app of fried green tomatoes ($4). Perfectly acceptable, but unmemorable. Then the main course--the so-called Sweetheart Deal for Two ($23)...a full, meaty rack with four sides. One bite of the ribs and there was no doubt they were the smoky, savory real deal. Sides: split decision on the barbecue beans--I loved their smoky spiciness, easily my favorite side. My dining companion found them too sweet. We both liked the almost-too-rich slaw and the "salt potatoes." The vegetable of the day--cauliflower and broccoli in a romano sauce--produced another split: I found it cloying; by the time I rememebered to ask my companion what she thought, she'd gobbled it all up.
The cornbread was in a sweet style that I don't favor in theory--but this was admirably executed. We polished off almost all of the three large pieces that came with the order.
We sure didn't need it, but we ordered the homemade key lime pie anyway ($5). It was very, very good--and with one of the best crusts I can remember having on a key lime. A fine cup of coffee that didn't make it on to the check finished the meal.
Finally--I can stop weeping softly when one of my Southern friends brings up the topic of 'cue.