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Mar 9, 2007 07:17 PM

Berkeley – T-Rex’s T-ERRIFIC Happy Hour - $1 brew, $1 oysters, $5 ribs … Fatted Calf HOT DOG digression

So I was turning around to pick up my $1 double cheeseburger from McDonald’s ... I've been on a so far unrequited Shamrock Shake search ... and I noticed the T-Rex happy hour sign. It sounded more promising than the McValue menu, so I dropped in.

Oh my, oh my, oh my … we are talking heavenly riblets … yet maybe it was the devil that cooked up the hot, sinfully-good, cayenne BBQ sauce coating the six fat little riblets … I’d sell my soul for them.

Fonda and T-Rex make some great hot sauce. The complex BBQ sauce on these riblets beats those … maybe flowery habanera with jalapeño and cayenne … a touch of cinnamon … and more.

There are six 2 inch riblets that are about 1/2 thick, beautifully laquered with mahogany BBQ sauce and topped with a sprinkle of green onion.

Happy hour is SEVEN days a week … 3pm – 6 pm. I know I’m happy.

Other items on the menu

$1 oysters
Devilled eggs - $2
Smoked mixed nuts - $3
Spring Roll - $3
French Fries with Chipotle Ketchup - $3
Onion Rings with Ranch - $3
Smoked salmon toasts - $5

Draft Pabst Blue Ribbon - $1
All other Draft Beers - $3
$5 Well Cocktails including past favorites according to the menu like Chapel Hill’s “Lemonade”, French 75 and French martini

Most of the items are a few dollars less than the regular menu and some less than half the price.

Those smoked mixed nuts are pretty divine, too. I have never had a real smoked nut until I tried these. Just opening my mouth, the BBQ smoke drifted in making my taste buds giddy in anticipation … wonderful nuts … and a generous bowlful.

The devilled eggs are much better than the first time I had them at T-Rex and at $2 priced right. On the regular menu they are $5 which is a little pricy for three half eggs … but for $2 … now we are talking … the creamy yolks piped high in the center with a little cayenne … surrounding a little spring mix topped with marinated onions and thin radish slices. Top eggs with the hot sauce on the table for extra kick.

The spring roll looked sad … a little overdone … but WAIT … good, good, good. They are stuffed with pieces of smoked chicken and mushroom and … well, I’m not sure what else … it was almost soft like grits but there was all sorts of wonderful flavor.

The only thing that was only ok was the smoked salmon toasts. I’ve been looking forward to getting the salmon for a long time, but maybe all the other assertively, deliciously, smoky snacks made this seem bland by comparison. Still it was a painless-to-the pocketbook way to sample the salmon … silky lox-like salmon topped two thin toasted baguette slices and were drizzled with crème fraîche and sprinkled with fresh dill. The toast was perched on top of some green salad.

The draft Pabst was good … and $1.

I also had draft Franziskaner Weissbier which was lovely with lemony notes and a rich creamy head.

Service was top notch. Really nice and helpful server … the type of service I’ve come to expect at Sea Salt, Fonda and Lalime’s.

I was looking at the lunch menu and saw the hot dog which they just added today. The server said it was by Fatted Calf. $10 with BBQ potato chips and something else I’m not remembering.

There are also a few dishes using Fra’ Mani sausages on the menu like

- Fra’Mani Italian sausage with pickled peppers and fontina cheese (lunch)
- Frittata of Fra’Mani sausage, potatoes, spring garlic and fontina cheese (brunch)

On the dessert menu there were some interesting “Desserts with a kick”

- Manhattan float – Bourbon vanilla ice cream, sweet vermouth, whipped cream, Dr. Brown’s black cherry soda
- Irish float – Caramel ice cream, Jameson whiskey, Baily’s and Murphy’s stout

Good dessert wines too like Barolo Chinato Cocchi.

The cocktail list has gotten more interesting. Betty Davis eyes is made with house-infused Bosc pear vodka

Cocktails, draft beers and interesting bottled beers are listed on the website.

Not listed are the beer cocktails

- SNAKEBITE – Woodchuck hard apple cider and Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Red Ale
- ALL IN ONE – Stone’s Double Chocolate Stout mixed with raw egg
- BLOODY BREW – Smirnoff vodka, Racer 5 Indian Pale Ale and a few dashes of T-Rex’s hot sauce
- MONACO – Franziskaner, crème de cassis, topped with 7-up
- “LITE BEER” – Pabst Blue Ribbon topped with soda water
- BUSINESS AS USUAL – Full Sail Session’s Premium Lager and 7-up
- BLACK VELVET – Murphy’s Irish Stout and prosecco
- MICHALADA – Grupo Modelo Corona Extra, lime juice with a salt rim
- SUNDAY MORNING – Campari, orange juice, Woodchuck hard apple cider

One warning ... it's a few hours later and I'm still exuding an 'eau de BBQ smoke' ... and I don't like that hungry look in the cat's eye when she looks at me.

Well … Global warming has been changing the climate … could it be that T-Rex is back from extinction?

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  1. I went to T-Rex last night and was exuding that eau de BBQ smoke until this morning! The leftover cornbread makes a wonderful breakfast, by the way. Thanks for mentioning the riblets, I've been interested in them before when I've been there, but have never gotten them.

    1. I had the $10 Fatted Calf hot dog at T-Rex and IMO it is still a work in progress ... except the red onion relish ... they need to keep that ... great stuff.

      The server said they were serving double dogs because the franks were going to be fatter in the future.

      As it is you get two ... at the very least, foot long skinny franks ... these are looong doggies. Served with cole slaw, two pickle slices and BBQ chips.

      What was really good about the dogs was the smoking that T-Rex does. Otherwise I'd write them off.

      They are too lean and I'm guessing skinless since I couldn't detect a snap or casing.

      The roll is just wrong . It is too sub roll. It is the same one they use for their Fra’ Mani Italian sausage sandwich ... which is better suited for that type of thing. What would be nice would be a hot dog roll similar to the roll Gregoire uses for his blue cheeseburger. This roll is too chewey for a hot dog.

      The roll is spread with yellow mustard and the dog is topped with the unusual but world-class perfect relish .. best I ever had. It was red. There were chopped red onions, but they were blended with regular sweet pickle relish and it was so good. Really these people need to sell their hot sauces and this relish. They do such a good job of them ... and I'd pony up money for bags of the Sea Salt potato chips and jars of pickles ... and smoked nuts ... hey ... how about a take-out deli next?

      The condiments are good, but I like the similar versions better at Sea Salt. The more vinegary slaw at T-Rex with pickles was wilty to the point where I was wishing they just used sauerkraut instead. The pickles are good, but the pickles I had at Sea Salt were crisper and just oustanding. I like the BBQ chips but again, I liked the thinner chips at Sea Salt better which to my preference is the potato chip perfected.

      For my happy hour splurge I got the $3 onion rings which were nice. About 8 battered, lightly deep-fried thick rings. The Ranch dressing was good ... mainly sour cream and dill ... surprising how different it was from the bottled version ... but maybe it could use a bit more tang.

      I enjoyed my $1 Pabst .. .call me petty ... with all the $$$ I spent at T-Rex I get a satisfaction out of paying a buck for something.

      Unless I read otherwise, I'll stick with the T-Rex burger which I like better ... maybe trying the hot dog when and if it changes ... add a little of that fat to the dog, FATTED Calf ... don't stint on your namesake. Maybe the smoking sucks the fat out of them, but it seemed just a matter of lean meat. And maybe there is no apparant spicing to let the smoke star ... but still, I think they need a little extra omph. The smoked dogs were lined up in a metal pan and thrown on the grill to heat.

      It is not that I don't appreciate the quality of meat, care and thought that went into that hot dog, but it doesn't translate to a satisfying dog ... except for that smokiness ... now that was really enjoyable.

      I was much happier with my frank $4 frankfurter from Royal Frankfurter in San Rafael ... closing soon. Now there's someone who understands the hot dog.

      And its not that I didn't feel the $10 price was too much given the quality and ambiance ... it is just the Royal Frank tasted so much better.

      However, I'm so happy with the quality of brunch and the happy hour, I'm guessing frankly things will get better.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rworange

        I forgot about updating this. The new hot dog is a smokey, juicy, meaty large dog with the most snap of any Bay Area dog. It is almost the size of the typical Polish Sausage sold on a bun. It is a lovely thing.

        Everything else is the same as described above: lovely red relish, mustard, pickles, slaw and BBQ chips. The only nit I still have is the bun which is just too dense for a dog. With the heftier hot dog it works better, but a lighter bun would be better.

      2. Thanks for the report RW. I often go to Pyramid Ale for happy hour with a couple of friends. Given it's close by, a change of venue might be in order. Hey so how much were the 6 riblets?

        2 Replies
          1. re: rworange

            Thanks I'll definately be checking it out.

        1. Went today for the first time around 4:30.

          I sat outside in the sun to avoid the TV crowd and the smoke.
          Ordered Ribbetes ,HB eggs, and Fries with chipotie catsup.

          All the food was very, very good! Eggs even came with a very tasty vegy garnish.
          Service was perfect!
          I had a ice cold Pabst and the "Derby" (mint julep)
          Beer was great and very cold.

          Derby was good for $5... would have been disappointed if I paid the normal $11(yikes)

          I think next time I will get the "usual" High grade bourbon and a pint of Pabst beer back. $5

          Other than that I give it a 9 on a 10 scale for the price of $16 plus $5 tip .

          I will be going back next week with some friends.

          Mens bathroom was spotless,always a plus. especially in Berzerkley.

          1. Had my first T Rex experience today for Happy Hour.

            $5 Maker's Manhattan - delightful (with brandied cherries!)
            6 $1 oysters -- man were they small. I know I'm getting a deal, but still...
            For our meal, we ordered:
            - baby back ribs -- almost totally devoid of flavor
            - brisket - good flavor, too dry, needed sauce
            - pulled pork sandwich - easily the best thing we got
            - mac and cheese - very 'eh'...pasta was blobby
            - cornbread in maple butter - tasty, but how could it not be?
            - beef jerky - good, i suppose (I'm not crazy into jerky)

            I can't say I'm eager to get back. BBQ in the East Bay seems to be a lost cause these days.