Monday, November 4, 2013

Good value at Peckinpah

Peckinpah on UrbanspoonSo I finally got around to trying Peckinpah last Friday. It's a tight no-reservations place that saw line-ups at the door and people waiting at the bar.
While we were waiting for the last two of our party, we placed our orders. Which was a good thing because some of the orders can take a little while (like the Baked Mac'n Cheese), which is annoying in a room with passive pressure to eat and go because of other diners waiting patiently for their turn.

The other stand-out BBQ places locally are Memphis Blues Barbecue House and the Hog Shack Cook House. Before you start comparing them, you should first know that not all BBQ traditions look alike, and Peckinpah is very different. Mijune Pak of Follow Me Foodie has a great primer on this in her review of Peckinpah. It's hard to avoid comparisons when it comes to whether it was tasty or not, you should at least recognize that you can't get/expect the same type of barbecue at Peckinpah -- Just as you can't take points off an apple for not being more like an orange. I recommend you look at the online menu which starts with an introduction to their Eastern North Carolina style barbeque.

Mac 'n Cheese ($12.95) freshly made, topped with Applewood smoked cheddar
  • Surprisingly bland to my palate. Hmm...
  • They very helpfully put this in separate bowls for our party to share! And on their own initiative -- we didn't even have to ask! Bonus points for service here.
Half of Everything (aka: "The Divorce") $59.95 Half order of each smoked meat, four sides, two pieces of corn bread.
  • Half of everything means pulled pork, beef brisket, pork side ribs, jalapeño pork sausage, beef rib. It doesn't look like much, but we were five and it was a decent amount after including the sides.
  • The sides are about 2 cups each of stuff. Considering that sides are basically $3.95 a piece, the meats work out to $44.15.
  • Meat
    • Overall, I didn't find anything particularly tasty here. The meat wasn't especially flavourful, strangely, and that's with or without the sauce. That, or I've been too vegetarian-fare-curious lately and have become disconnected with meat.
      • Didn't get to try the sausage. Where'd it go? -- Thanks for sharing guys. <.<
    • The meats didn't seem particularly tender, though definitely not tough or dry I remember prying and sawing and tearing at the side ribs to cut out a chunk. Thankfully they gave us a steak knife.
    • There are two kinds of sauce at the table which you are meant to use. I would try a bit of the meat without them first.
      • The "house-made sweet mild sauce" should be used sparingly at first, until you figure out how much you like on it (also, it pours FAST from the bottle). I was the only one who didn't prefer this over the "official" sauce, maybe because it just felt too "uncooked". It's different when BBQ sauce is slathered on meat over th grill where it has a chance to sear and bring out flavour. I found this kind of tomato-sauce-like.
      • The chili vinegar is meant to bring out the meat flavour, and in my experience it certainly does that. Again, go easy on this first so that you're not super-soaking your meat into vinegar sponges.
  • Side: Coleslaw
    • Not the soaked creamy stuff, but more like the tossed shredded veggie style.
  • Side: Southern Greens - collard greens, kale, and swiss chard sautéed in garlic and butter
    • Garlic? Butter? Where? The wilted veggies just tasted mushy and bitter. The one kale-lover at our table really liked this. If you're not sure, ask for a sample first.
  • Side: Cream Corn - whole corn kernels cooked in sweet corn puree
    • Not as sweet or creamy as I expected. Disappointing.
    • Best cream corn I've had so far is the one at Black + Blue, which has a bit of bite to it from jalapeño.
  • Side: Hush Puppies (3 fritters) deep fried corn bread fritters with honey bourbon dip
    • Just blow all your side order choices on this. Seriously. Best of the lot, fun to eat.
  • The order of The Divorce comes in two large plates, one with the meat and one with the sides and cornbread. It worked out to a light/medium meal for our party of five, plus we still had a bit left over for a doggie bag. If you are four hungry hikers, you might want to try The Honeymoon instead.
    • A meaty dinner for under $20 a head (tax and tip included) in the trendy part of Gastown is rather good value.
Service was mixed. The lead person at the bar dressed as a long-haired Daryl Hall (of vintage Hall and Oates fame) was friendly and very helpful, but the wait staff that night seemed disinterested bordering on surly. (Or maybe just tired after another evening scramble in a full room.) We actually had trouble trying to flag one down for drinks or to get our bill.

Table spacing is rather very tight, and if your party has an odd number, you can expect the odd one out to be squeezed in rather than another table pulled over.

They are also conscious of any line-up at the door, and if the rest of your party is late, you will be approached about the empty seats at your table. This is not a nice experience for either your party or the restaurant staff, so I highly recommend getting your act together and going in with your full party, or at least waiting at the bar until the stragglers arrive -- and let them know your party size so that they can strategically give away seats while preserving the ability to seat all of you together. If you have a big platter order, get that started as well.

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