Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hickory River Smokehouse - Tipp City/Dayton, Ohio

We decided to have a date night Saturday and finish off Restaurant Week with one of the two-for specials. We thought about Bahn Mai, but would rather go when we can order anything on the menu. Thought about Beef O'Brady's, but that wasn't exactly a place I was dying to try. We finally settled on Hickory River BBQ, what with Mr. FvF missing the Texas BBQ he'd grown so accustomed to. The deal was two large brisket dinners (each with cornbread, a cobbler and two sides) and soft drinks for $20.10.

The mister chose the ranch beans and mac & cheese as his side, and I chose the cole slaw and cottage cheese with mine. For dessert, he had a blackberry cobbler and I picked peach for myself.

The ordering style is cafeteria style, like a lot of BBQ joints. you order at the counter, pick your sides and whatnots as you go down the line, and pay at the register at the end. Normally, their large brisket dinners with the same sides are only $9.50, so we were basically just getting the cobblers and soft drinks for free. That said, this was a hell of a lot of food for just over twenty bucks.

Bad first impression. We were "greeted" by someone who wouldn't know their menu if it bit her in the ass. She was clueless about the RW special (which was listed nowhere within the restaurant that we could see), and none too happy about answering questions. After only my second question, "Do you make your own slaw?" she sighed, rolled her eyes and yelled to the line cook, "Do we make our own slaw?!" That guy was the friendliest during our whole visit, letting me know it was not dairy based, but made with a sweet vinaigarette and was with a try. We passed through the line and got to the register. When someone walked up and opened the drawer, I greeted her with a friendly "hello," to which I wasn't even met with so much as a glance. Strike two.

A slightly friendlier gal rang us up, and was reminded by another not-so-friendly staffer that we needed to pick out two cobblers because it was included in our special. I tried to thank her for reminding us, but was again met with silence.

I ordered my brisket with sauce on the side, because - as I've noted before - good barbecue should be able to stand on its own. I noticed the brisket had a good bark on it, but not much of a smoke ring to speak of. Anxious to see if the line cook was right, I dug into the slaw first. Spot on! I normally don't care for vinegar-based slaws, but this one was tops. It was much sweeter than City BBQ's. Such a sweetness that the dressing almost mimicked the house dressing from Old Hickory - which I believe I've mentioned, I'd bathe in.

I started into the brisket next. It was so dry without sauce that I couldn't finish it without a mouth full of soda. That's simply a sign of overcooking. I had a little piece of fat hanging off the side, covered in bark, so I tried that. It had been cooked so long that even the FAT wasn't overly moist. It was just okay with the sauce - but I'm not looking for "just okay" when it comes to brisket. Mr. FvF's ranch beans were pretty tasty, and the mac & cheese was very similar to Stouffer's (which isn't a bad thing). Once I opened up my cornbread, I noticed that dryness must have been a theme I wasn't privvy to, considering it was bone dry and at least one day old. Very rarely can you see a photograph of something and tell that it's stale or dry, but I think this pic gives a fairly accurate representation.

That, I figured, was fine, because now I could save my gluten-fail for the cobbler. Yet another lost cause. The crust didn't seem fresh or at all flavorful, and the filling was comprised of that gelatinous goop that you can buy by the can at Kroger and HARD peaches. Of all fruits to be hard - really, a peach?! I might give a little wiggle room for someone serving an apple pie or cobbler with firm fruit, but not a damn peach. They're soft by nature. I'm not even sure where in nature one could find a peach this firm.

Overall, the food was "meh" and the service was dreadful. We definitely won't be back.

2 out of 5 sporks!

Hickory River Smoke House on Urbanspoon


Unknown said...

"good barbecue should be able to stand on its own", so true! I've thought about stopping in there before but kept putting it off. I think I'll put it off even longer now!

Mek Logan said...

Spot on with this review! My wife and I stopped in there last year, and had very much the same experience, although without the trainee relaying questions. Since bad BBQ has the same dietary impact as good BBQ, we're looking forward to trying Smokin' Aces in Xenia, thanks to your review!

Anonymous said...

I live in Tipp City and am a customer of HR for over a year now. My experiences at HR have been more than outstanding in both food and customer service.I would recomend a second visit. JW,Tipp City.

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