Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Oaks Open-Pit Bar-B-Q: Sarasota, FL

Still down in Sarasota and had a day off. We were staying a few miles down the street from The Oaks and I had been passing it by it every day. It was either this place or the Sonny's BBQ down the street. Most of you know how I feel about Sonny's (its ok if its you're only resort).

Their web site looks a bit generic, but it makes you think this is more of a fine dining experience. Check it out at:

This is how they claim the chef's look.

In real life, this is just a straight ole Q joint, with taxidermy of gators and deer heads and such on the wall. Its not a very big place at all.

This is closer:

JUST KIDDING!!! OK now, let's lighten up just a bit. Once you see their site and then actually visit the place, you will at least get this joke.

They say their Q is pit smoked, but I really couldn't tell. I ordered the "all u can eat" special which lets you pick out any two meats and then you can switch the meats on your next order. I was going to try a little chopped pork, 2 ribs, and then eat a piece of chicken. They brought me out like 6 hige ribs, and about 1 and 1/2 cup of the chopped pork. I had turnip greens and baked beans with garlic toast. I could tell I would never make it to the chicken based on the portion size.

We ordered with no sauce on the meat. They had a regular and a hot styled sauce, and they also had louisianea hat sauce and hot vinegar for the greens.

Now the problem: This stuff tasted like it was reheated from the night before in the oven or microwave. There was a FAINT hint of smoke, but not what I would have suspected from a pit smoke place. The beans had a "relish" sort of taste, as did the slaw. The greens had little flavor (no fatback or seasoning) and actually tasted canned. The tea was about half sweet and half unsweet, but not very much flavor either.

The chopped pork was very dry (probably from reheating) and the ribs were a little dry as well. The way they pulled off the bone led me to believe they might have been boiled, but this could have also been from reheating. There were no spices on the meat. The sauce helped a little, but overall this Q was more of the "in law" grade, not even sandwich grade. We pretty much just stopped eating and left.

In this case, I would have to recommend Sonny's BBQ over The Oaks if you are looking for decent BBQ in Sarasota. I think their web site is misleading, and they should pay a little more attention to flavor for ALL of their food, not just the meat. It would not take a lot to make the food more appealing here, but its just not up to par at this point. Based on what I experienced here, I would rate The Oaks a 2.

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