So I'd read much of the to and fro-ing about the place, and decided to see for myself. To sum it up, I was more than positively impressed by the structure, the food, the professionalism of the staff, and the entire experience...
I went for lunch this past Saturday, and selected a two-way ($17 I think) off the brunch menu. I ordered baby back ribs and pulled pork, which came with a dollop of potato salad and a small slice of bread. On the side, I got the cornbread ($5), which came with maple butter, and iced tea ($2, many refills) to drink.
The ribs and pork was excellent, the bbq sauce which the ribs rested in is perhaps a shade on the vinegary side for my taste, but still quite good. Four meaty ribs, and a very healthy portion of pulled pork, quite bounteous. The cornbread was excellent and quite filling, though as I proceeded I tended to cut the bottom part off, the bit that had been in the maple butter, to avoid the sweetness.
The building was also very impressive, less cavernous than some photos I have seen made it seem, and the sliding doors on the side upstairs are a great idea. I sat at a table in the bar area, and was profoundly impressed by the bar staff...they were attentive without hovering, anticipating needs and fulfilling them, and just the right amount of friendly, in my estimation. For example, I asked for some sugar for the iced tea and one of the bartenders asked if I'd rather have simple syrup, as it mixed better. I have never been asked that, and he was absolutely correct, it worked quite well. They were churning out lovely concoctions as I sat and watched, with a great bit of quality control from the bar manager. Their drink menu is lengthy and well-priced, and many of the blends sound delicious.
The real hidden value is the Happy Hour menu, 3-6 pm daily. Perhaps portions are smaller, but you could try a bunch of different things for very little money, try one of the signature cocktails, and relax in a beautiful space with a staff that really knows what it is doing.
From my vantage point I could look over and easily see the varied plates coming out of the kitchen, and they were all gorgeous in both presentation and ingredients. All the conversation between kitchen and servers was professional and positive, the whole vibe of the place was uplifting. It was moderately busy, no one was standing around, and overall it made me want to go back the next day. I resisted successfully, but it won't be long until I am back, and I hope others give it a try and have as good an experience as I did.
Brick Pit, E&Jones, KC's (or is it Caseys? on San Pablo), that newish joint in Richmond, Bo's, Back Forty, Big Nate's, Brother in Law's, Uncle Frank's, Little Lou's, Uncle Willie's...I have tried many bbq places in the area, and while I don't doubt that one of these places could have a certain dish on a certain day that to some tastes beats T. Rex, I must say that no spot I have hit made me want to go back the next day and try more dishes, confident they would be great.
Long live T. Rex!