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Brethren Road Trips The travel logs of our members. Q- joints, restaurants, entertainment, reviews while we travel around the 50 states. Also, Post here for a shout out to members to meet up with while on the road.


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Old 01-21-2009, 03:57 PM   #1
motoeric
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Default Smokin Al's

Smokin’ Al’s has been Long Island’s ‘go to’ place for BBQ for years. When Nassau and Suffolk were a wasteland for BBQ lovers, Smokin’ Al’s was there. What impresses me is that the food quality that patrons enjoy today, in a competitive field of BBQ joints, is the same quality that they offered when they first opened. Consistency, quantity and atmosphere have been the hallmarks of this restaurant and have stood them in good enough stead to open a second location.

The Massapequa Park location opened in late 2008. Larger than the Bay Shore location, they have a similar look and feel. The caricatures of the 1920’s era pigs adorn the walls providing a ‘folksy’ feel that is a welcome contrast to the slightly upscale vibe of the polished wooden floors and open, airy space. The elevated ceilings make the large restaurant feel even more sizeable. Located on a corner lot, the huge bay windows on two sides offer plenty of natural light. There is plenty of (free) parking to the rear and side of the restaurant, which is a nice contrast to the original location.

When you enter the restaurant there is a large bar with an extensive array of alcohol lining the shelves. Between the bar and the entrance is a small podium for the members of the wait staff to greet the customers and show them to a table, which are to your left. To the right there are about 8 bar tables that I assume are used by patrons when tables for dinner aren’t available. The dining area extends roughly 40 feet from the entrance and also runs parallel to the bar and the area where the kitchen staff borders on the front of house. There is a smaller, elevated area that holds roughly 8 tables.

The service was quick and professional. Our only minor qualm was that the waitress didn’t know what types of wood were used for their smoking and wasn’t able to find out. She was attentive, considerate and intuitive. Our drinks were rarely empty and empty plates didn’t linger.

3 varieties of BBQ sauce adorned the tables. I believe that there might have been a labeling mistake when they filled up the bottles, as the “Sweet Talkin” variety was considerably less sweet than the base sauce. None of the sauces really stood out. The base sauce (or what was labeled as such) was extremely sweet and relatively thick, with serious cinnamon overtones. The “Rattlesnake” sauce was similar to CattleBoyz in appearance (bright red and glossy, with large seeds visible) and lacked much nuance. The “Sweet Talkin” sauce was a quotidian Memphis wannabe. Barely memorable.

We enjoyed the burnt ends appetizer. They lay upon a bed of crispy fried onions and were smothered in sauce. The meat was delicate and not overly fatty. I would have preferred that the cubes of brisket be seared prior to the addition of the sauce, but they were still very good.

The pricing was reasonable ($9.99 for sandwiches with two sides, $13.99 for platters) and the proportions were epic. I was in an odd mood, so I ordered their hot dog. It was tremendous and covered in half the items on the menu. Cheese, coleslaw, chili, baked beans and fried onions made this an awkward mélange. Nearly unmanageable in scale, excellent French fries were flying everywhere as I tried to cut this thing into reasonable pieces (eating it with your hands was out of the question).

The pulled pork was decent, but without a trace of smoke. There were sizeable bits of bark amongst the strings and chunks and the flavor of the meat did fight its way through the sauce that it was cooked in. It wasn’t bad, but I would hesitate to call it BBQ. Top tier crockpot pulled pork? Maybe.

The pulled chicken was similar, but maintained more of the flavor of the chicken (which is odd, as pork has a stronger natural flavor). The hamburger was deemed ‘top notch’ by the lunch companion enjoying it. I believe that there might have been cheese mixed into the meat prior to cooking. It was large, moist and flavorful. The lettuce, onions and tomato with the burger were all extremely fresh in spite of it being the dead of winter. The sides were universally excellent (garlic mashed, french fries, corn bread, mac and cheese).

Would we return? Absolutely. The atmosphere and service were top rate and the value for the dollar was spot-on. Is this ‘true’ BBQ? Not really. The staff didn’t seem to have any idea about smoking and the flavor of the meat reflected that.
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Old 01-21-2009, 04:04 PM   #2
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Thanks for the thoughtful review. I really enjoy seeing someone who loves bbq and can write so well putting the two together.
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Old 01-21-2009, 06:48 PM   #3
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Nice Eric,
but gotta admit,
first time I have ever seen "quotidian" used in a bbq joint revue.
(on an ordinary, every day or usual reference that is...)
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Old 01-22-2009, 06:40 AM   #4
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you ate there and it was quick??? I ordered one night and it was 45 minutes just for take out
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Old 01-22-2009, 09:02 AM   #5
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Nice review, Eric. You really have a knack. I agree with Wes that anyone who uses "quotidian" in a restaurant review gets my vote.

That said, I think you were kinder to Al than I would have been, but maybe things have changed since the last time I was there. The first time I went to the Bay Shore location, I sat at the bar next to the service area for about a half hour waiting for a take-out order and it was all I could do to keep myself from taking the checks away from Al and co-ordinating the line myself. (Old firehouse dog mode.)
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Old 01-22-2009, 09:36 AM   #6
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Best BBQ on Long Island!
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Old 01-23-2009, 04:19 PM   #7
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Looks like the average person agrees with me. We are a minority whose opinion the restaurateur doesn't care about

http://www.yelp.com/biz/smokin-als-f...joint-bayshore
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Old 01-23-2009, 04:56 PM   #8
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It's not surprising to see that the average person loves average BBQ.

I actually enjoyed myself and I would definitely go back. Just not expecting BBQ.

Eric
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Old 01-23-2009, 07:29 PM   #9
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And that would be the usual quotidian responses;
We are actually gonna try it out real soon, current spouse and I.
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Old 02-22-2011, 09:51 PM   #10
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Can anyone update Eric's review please? Anyone been there in the last couple of years?
thanks
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Old 02-23-2011, 11:00 AM   #11
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WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE WORD QUOTIDIAN?
I've noticed a great number of searches done on this site that reference the word quotidian, and until now there has been no reference on this site as to what the word means or where it comes from.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (the most venerable of all dictionaries), the word was first used around 1340. It comes to us from the Latin quotidianus, meaning "daily", and this in turn from the Latin quotus (however many occur, every) + dies (day). The word therefore literally means "every day," though today we use it to mean "daily" or "occurring on a daily basis." It can also connote something rather mundane that occurs regularly; e.g., "Most of Elvie's blog entries were nothing more than trivial ramblings on her quotidian existence."
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Texas Smokemaster offset, Well-cured NB Silver Smoker, Santa Fe grill (retired). glory bee gasser.
Texas International Pop Festival, Labor Day 1969.
IMBAS Certified.
Just roll me up and smoke me when I die.
Always remember, no matter where ya go,
there you are.
I wanna tell you 'bout Texas radio and the big beat.
Someday, I hope to visit Penelope.
Hondo Crouch, Famous Late Mayor of Lunkenbach, Texas who advocated a 'dillo diet: "You can eat nothing but armadillos for a month, but you will have to run down and catch all the armadillos you eat and it can really take the weight off!"


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Old 02-23-2011, 06:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nancee View Post
Can anyone update Eric's review please? Anyone been there in the last couple of years?
thanks
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I was there a few weeks ago with Pigtrip & an unnamed former posting member... Worse than I remember it from my previous visits.

Check out the now retired PigTrips recent update (scroll down a bit on the homepage http://www.pigtrip.net/


Long Island BBQ: Smokin' Al's Revisited

A few weeks ago I hit Long Island for a weekend barbecue crawl. The biggest name in Long Island BBQ is Smokin' Al's, with wildly successful joints in Bay Shore (the original) and Massapequa Park (the expansion a few years ago). My second visit to the latter got a decent sampling of their barbecue menu. Here's my take:
Ribs: "St Louie Grand Backs" is the name Smokin' Al uses for his alternative to babybacks. These ribs, trimmed lengthwise but as thick as you'll find in a St Louis rib, are cut from the spares closer to the belly than the back. Ordered unsauced, these arrived with a well developed and well charred crust. That crust didn't show much rub, and the cross sections didn't show any pink, but visible moistness and good fat content (neither too much nor too little) made them appetizing. Flavor was equal parts char and pork fat, with as-expected low levels of rub and smoke flavor. Meatiness and moistness carried the day here. Sauce was hardly necessary for moisture but went a long way toward adding some much needed flavor and counteracting the bitterness of the char. With sauce added, these ribs were solid and clearly above average for the area.
Brisket: The Ribs-and-Meat combo ($20.99 with two sides) packed about a dozen slices of brisket on the plate. Color was monotone, with only the faintest of outer crusting, no smoke ring and little to no visible moisture. Tenderness was adequate without being noteworthy. Flavor was pleasant enough, with a slight sweetness to the beef profile, but nothing really compelling. Smoke here was noticeable, but as with the ribs, it took a back seat to the char grilled flavor that added some bitterness to the equation. The meat was painfully dry. This brisket might have worked a little better in a sandwich, where sauce could remedy the dryness and a thick bun could provide a good vessel for the tender, charry meat. But on its own, this brisket was barely average overall.
Pulled pork: The "Carolina" pulled pork sandwich ($10.99 with fries and slaw) supplied a super generous portion of pork and a nearly as generous amount of thick, sweet sauce, pushing the already tender meat toward liquid territory. If there was any smokiness in the meat, I failed to detect it. This was a soggier style (from both the oversaucing and overcooking) than I prefer, but if you like a sloppy sandwich that's as much about the sauce as about the meat, this one is a good example.
Sides: Creamy cole slaw expertly balanced a heavy dosage of mayo with an equally heavy dosage of black pepper, making it a very enjoyable complement to the sweet and charry meats. Sweet potato fries—a free upgrade from the standard fries that come with the sandwich—had a rare combination of crunchy exterior, tender interior, autumnal flavors (cinnamon, maybe nutmeg) and a homemade feel. I really liked the texture of the fusilli pasta in the mac and cheese, but thought the cheese was on the bland side. Baked beans didn't make any impression. Cornbread was a typical but competent Twinkie derivative.
Outlook: I have mixed feelings about Smokin' Al's, which I liked much more at the time of my original review in 2006. At that time, I had only tried their pork ribs, which are much more of a strength than the pulled and sliced meats. I still like Smokin' Al's, and still rank them in my top three or four for Long Island, but their barbecue stock has dropped somewhat.
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