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Richmond - Pit Boss Carolina cue redux

There was tri-tip on the menu tonight but I wanted to try the turkey and chicken.

I'll never recommend poultry at any BBQ because I believe it is pretty much a matter of luck. Most of the time the chicken is dry and in some cases even leather-like. I've only had two good chickens at a BBQ joint, once at Flints and another time at KC's ... but I believe in
both cases I was just there at exactly the right time.

I was at Pit Boss at exactly the right time.

Chicken and turkey had crispy skins, blackened in spots and the meat was juicy and falling off the bone. The BBQ sauce which I asked for on the side, was a good complement.

The potato salad is better than most BBQ's, though that doesn't say a lot. It is creamy and a little on the bland side which can work as a foil to smoky meat. Mac and cheese was a special and was good, sort of like the version at Louisiana chicken, a buttery/cheesy rather than a creamy version.

The sweet potato pie was interesting. Not sweet with a deep brown color, about 1/3 of an inch filling on a graham cracker crust.

The standouts here remain the mind-blowing good pork ribs, brisket, greens and baked beans.

Corn bread was better than last time. It was a slice rather than a muffin and moister.

I met one of the owners tonight, a really nice guy who comes from South Carolina. This is his first restaurant though he did catering and was in a few BBQ competitions. I get the feeling though he's been in the Bay Area for a while because he pretty much knew the local BBQ scene.

He put his own BBQ equipment in. Turns out that Bobby who had the Backyard BBQ at that location at one time, took his equipment with him when he relocated to Pinole. Adair said he is still working things out and to look for better and better cue as the place settles in.

I don't know ... IMO, right out the 'back' door he had the best BBQ I've had in the Bay Area.

Previous Report

Outrageous Barbeque greatness comes to the Bay Area - Pit Boss BBQ
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/454978

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Pit Boss Barbeque
12889 San Pablo Ave, Richmond, CA

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  1. We had lunch today and thought it was good to great. Two people ordered a 4 way ~ ribs, pulled pork, double brisket with greens and potato salad, mild sauce on the side. The ribs were stupendous; smoky, tender, slightly greasy and rich. No sauce needed for these. If you like to gnaw the meat off the bone, these might be too soft for you but we loved them. The brisket was good. It was unevenly cut so thin slices seemed dry, thick chunks less so. Dunked the dry bites in sauce, sweet mild and thick. The pulled pork was tender, a little dry. The greens are also great and swimming in a nice pool of likker. As RW says, potato salad is bland but a good foil. Cornbread, dry, grainy and not worth the tummy space today. Tons of meat, we could barely cram our left over meat into a standard styrofoam to go box. Without tip, 1 soda, about $29. When I recover from my meat coma, I will return.

    1. I stopped there on Saturday and had the ribs, brisket and a taste of the pulled pork. Thought that the ribs were the best of the bunch - soft and tender. My brisket was dry and cut a little funny - long thin strips. Think of a slice of brisket which is cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips. Pulled pork was silky. Corn bread was a square cut from a larger pan and reasonably good. Not too dry or crumbly. Worth going back to try again but not worth a long drive.

      The old Flint's - in its heyday - is still my standard. I also preferred Flint's sauce but sauce is a personal choice affected by regional preference.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Bob Copeland

        >>"My brisket was dry and cut a little funny - long thin strips. Think of a slice of brisket which is cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips."

        Long 1/4" thick slices (against the grain). That is the standard way to slice a brisket, no? To test for tenderness, you should be able to lift individual slices without having them crumble, yet be able to pull them apart with little resistance.

        1. re: Bob Copeland

          As CB said, this is kind of standard how to cut brisket, but a lot of places around hear do hunks/chunks of brisket, which can be pretty good too.

        2. My dining partner and i got take-out on Wed 11/14/07 ~7:30.
          Tri-tip. We were unable to try the brisket as they were out, and instead ordered the tri-tip. We both found it to be rubbery and flavorless, and would argue that it should be avoided at all costs.
          Ribs. These were indeed "fall-off-bone" ribs, but i prefer my ribs with more fight in them and less boiled-feeling. Overall we found them too soft. There was one bite that did have a hint of smoke, but only one. overall ok, but nothing special.
          "Carolina" pulled pork. This was easily the strongest of the three meats we tried (in spite of a complete lack of smoke), with a mild sweetness to it that was strangely addictive. Very moist, but a little soft (e.g. mushy) for me. Overall enjoyable, but not quite like in Carollna. Will try again next time.
          Sides. Cornbread was dense and moist, passable. collard greens lacked all flavor, as if the flavor had been leeched out for use elsewhere. mac&cheese was very greasy and wasn't particularly tasty, but the firm texture was a small consolation.
          Sauce. opted for "hot" sauce on side. Apparently "hot" means "not the slightest bit spicy." Found it overly sweet, and none of the meats benefited from pairing with the sauce, except perhaps the tri-tip, for which anything would have been an improvement.
          Service. While the bartender was very friendly, as were the other customers, i was surprised to wait half an hour for a carry-out order. i recommend calling in ahead.
          Overall, i can't say from this meal that this is the best in the area, but i am encouraged by the pulled pork. Will try again, hopefully getting brisket, pork, and maybe giving the ribs another shot.

          5 Replies
          1. re: evilpilotfish

            Your report is very consistent about "complete lack of smoke". How can that be good barbecue?

            1. re: evilpilotfish

              Wow these reports are so not what I've experienced now over 4 visits. I wanted to try the tri tip and didn't hit it on the right day.

              Everything has been the best of any bbq I've tried in the Bay Area and frankly one of the few I'd bother to eat again the only exceptions being the brisket at Memphis Minnies and T-Rex ... but T-Rex is in its own little category of cal-bbq. Bay Area bbq is seriously mediocre and the sides are atrocious.

              And Pit Boss has only sides worth ordering (T-Rex excepted). I don't understand how I can be this wildly out of sync with chowhound tastes or that the place could be that wildly inconsistant and I haven't hit it yet. I know they said they would be fine tuning but to me this is mysterious to me.

              I like when people post that they dislike a place that I like because that gives everyone a better idea of a joint. It is just this really isn't even close to any of the food I bought there.

              1. re: rworange

                I think my experience was close to yours. I tasted smoke in all the meats and did not get a boiled taste or texture from the ribs at all. Outside of some salt and pepper for the potato salad (and completely ignoring the cornbread) I would eagerly eat anything I had here again. Especially the ribs.

                1. re: rworange

                  Hmm, i hadn't intended for my report to seem quite so negative, rw. I think Pit Boss has potential, and will certainly try again. The ribs i had were decent, but i have had better ones at CJ's, with a smokier flavor and a firmer texture. That said, i have not had locally many others that i could argue were better, so roughly second place on the first shot is commendable. The pulled pork was good. Yes, it lacked smoke. But there are a few reasons why this does not bother me as much here as in other cases, Mick. 1] I can count on one hand the number of pieces of meat i have eaten in the Bay Area that had even one bite with smoke in it, so comparatively PB's pork fares no worse. 2] In general i found my favorite places in Carolina to be less smoky overall than say in Memphis, so my expectations for a Carolina pulled pork smokiness are different. 3] Consider also that i haven't had anything remotely similar to PB's pulled pork in the Bay Area, and that makes it a welcome change. So i am not as dark on the ribs and pulled pork as might have been perceived. But i stand by my overtly negative assessment of the tri-tip, sauce and sides; those you are free to perceive as wholly negative. But honestly i care very little about the sides and sauce; to me the only important thing is the meat. i look forward to trying PB again soon, but in the meantime i think dissenting opinions are healthy and would encourage reports of all kinds, jillyju, regardless of whether or not they are corroborative of earlier reports.

                  1. re: evilpilotfish

                    Yeah, I'm with you that people shouldn't hold back even if they think its a fluke so I wish jillyju had reported earlier too. I'm just flabergasted that I've been having such different experiences. I know nada about BBQ other than what I've had in the Bay Area, but it always seems really good to me and better than the other places.

              2. I went to Pit Boss within 24 hours of your first post--your description of the bbq was so compelling that I couldn't wait.

                I had such a different experience than you that I didn't want to post about it at the time--I felt as though I must either have broken taste buds or I hit a very bad night. I found both the greens and potato salad bland and unworthy of finishing. I got a two- way with brisket and ribs, and felt unenthusiastic about either of them. Little smokey flavor, dry brisket, and ribs that were neither here nor there. The corn bread, usually a favorite part of a bbq meal for me, was too dry as well. My dining partner got chicken and ribs, with greens and potato salad on the side. He is much more of a bbq expert than I am, and he was, if anything, less enthusiastic than I.

                While the service was very friendly, I cannot see a reason to return.

                2 Replies
                1. re: jillyju

                  BBQ is so maddeningly hit and miss when places can't count on a packed house every night. I have been disappointed so many times I really have a different scale. This is one reason why sauce is important to me- I usually eat BBQ with very little sauce, but if I haven't hit the place on their best day, part of me still enjoys a flavorful, interesting sauce with the meat- and some "bad" sauces you can still develop a taste for, so even if the BBQ is objectively terrible it certainly can be edible, if that makes any sense.

                  1. re: P. Punko

                    As they say PP, ther is no bad BBQ, just good and better BBQ...

                2. Based on rworange's recommendation, we went in today. The ribs were incredible fall-off-the-bone tender. The pulled pork was a little firmer but also delicious with sauce on the side. I'd definitely go back for those. Unfortunately, the cole slaw was tasteless, without the vinegar bite and sugar sweetness needed to contrast with the ribs. The greens would have been good cooked just a bit more and with a lot more (or some?) pepper and the mac and cheese ditto on the pepper. Still, it's the meat that makes the 'que and these sides are still several miles ahead of Flint's.

                  Thanks again for doing the scouting!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lintygmom

                    I guess I am just under a lucky star as far as this place is concerned. Now I'm sort of determined to go back and hit a lousy meal ... but I have a $4 chicken and waffle joint to check out first ... and even though I'm not a fan of grits ... for 25 cents, I'll try them ... so a return Pit Boss will have to wait a while.

                    Did they have pieces of pork in the greens? That is what has been so good about them on my visits. I'm glad some people are having good visits. I hope when they truly get up and running the consistancy will be on the good rather than the bad side ... btw ... reading elsewhere ... the fries might be something to skip at this point.