Over the Heritage Day long weekend, a few friends came down to visit from Edmonton. For a large party of 7, we thought going to a smokehouse might be a good idea. A large meat platter could easily feed all of us. No need to fuss over individual orders. Big T’s BBQ had a stall at the Calgary Farmer’s Market where a few of our friends were dazzled by the toothsome barbecued meat. This brought us to their brick and mortar establishment in Deer Ridge, Calgary.
I felt like I had traveled to a smaller town in rural Alberta as I stepped into this spacious restaurant. Wide plank flooring and exposed brick wall created a country western backdrop. The wooden tables and chairs and bucket light fixture also helped give off the western ranch feel.
It was Sunday lunchtime and we were the only customers. Yet, that did not translate into faster service. We certainly did not have the server’s undivided attention. Quite the contrary, the two unoccupied servers were very absorbed in their own conversation and forgot to take our order until we called them over. After the server actually took our order, she came back 10 mins later for confirmation. Since she had our orders completely wrong, we had to remind her again what we had actually ordered. Totally unprofessional.
Enough with the second-rate service, let’s move on to the food. We started off with BBQ nachos ($17). The plate was piled with tortilla chips, brisket, melted cheese, jalapenos, sour cream and Big T’s original sauce. Every pieces of brisket was a distinct joy in texture and taste – smoky, tender, melt-in-your-mouth. Be careful – bits of pickled jalapeno could leave you with a burning sensation! Though topped with drops of sauces, the tortilla chips remained crisp. Combined with a bunch of herbs and spices, the salsa was packed with fresh flavors.
The server strongly recommended their hush puppies ($8) and fried dill pickles ($12). Let’s see if they worth a try.
With a drizzle of maple syrup on top, I could see why the deep fried corn fritters could be so addicting. They were pleasantly sweet, moist and had a smooth consistency.
The fried dill pickles were thickly breaded in cornmeal, fried to a perfect golden color, and served with homemade horseradish mayo. The combination of sour pickles, crunchy breading and creamy dipping were just unbeatable!
In order to sample all the different types of smoked meats, we shared a Big T’s platter ($74). There were sliced brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, half chicken, rib ends, andouille sausage, served with coleslaw, beans, fries, gravy, cornbread and buns on the side. Maybe our friends hyped it up too much, I thought the meat was mediocre. Everything tasted a bit dry except for the ribs (and, of course, the rib tips which was supposed to be dry). The sausage was not too bad – it was hearty, smoky and peppery.
The verdict? I would definitely not come back again, especially not dining in. The appetizers were palatable, but the meat failed to meet my expectation. The horrible service was the tipping point that drove me away.