Pleasant Hill - Back Forty Texas BBQ - exhausting experience
So, we finally tried Back Forty Texas BBQ in PH in the new location.
The new location is said to seat 450 people but that would include the upstairs bar (with live music) which is only used on weekends, and would also include the very large banquet room, which I would guess is infrequently used.
The pleasant host told us 50 minute wait at 6:20 on a Friday, Since _usually_ the host will overestimate your wait time, we agreed to wait (party of 4). 1 hour and 5 minutes later we were finally seated. Three large groups of 8, 8 and 10 who undoubtedly had reservations were seated significantly ahead of us, but the host should have allowed for that in the wait time. People in groups of 2 and 4 were getting visibly irritated with waiting, watching these big groups walk in and get seated in less than 15 minutes. We got there at 6:20 and left at 8:40.
The pork ribs were just plain dried out. The sauces were OK but as tasted about the same as a high quality bottled sauce from a supermarket. The garlic mashed potatoes were tasty but were lukewarm. By then, we were so desperate to eat we didn't both to send the potatoes back for warm up. The "homemade" vegetable soup used frozen or canned peas and corn. There were fresh tomatoes in the soup but not much else about the soup was fresh.
Nice touches - a sampler plate of warm breads - 2 kinds of cornbread, a buttermilk bisquit and banana muffin. The live music (local band). The free valet parking (since the parking lot is very crowded). The efficient and eager young servers. The fact that a $16.95 dinner included soup or salad and bread sampler.
Not so great - the food, the wait and the noise level. There are so many people in the dining room people are literally shouting across the tables to talk to the other people in their party.
If you value quantity over quality, like the all in one pricing structure, and aren't picky about the quality of your bbq, this must be your place because it was very, very crowded. We won't be back, though. I can't remember when I have waited so long for such mediocre food.
Back Forty Texas BBQ
100 Coggins Drive
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Tel: (925) 935-1440
OK. I'll give Back 40 a little credit. We've been going there for years and found it to be consistent and good. Somehow the chicken stays very moist after hours in the smoker. The beef can be a bit dry, but if you order it "juicy" you get thicker slices with a lot of moisture and flavor (hint: it's called fat). I don't think anyone really has a killer barbecue sauce in the Bay Area and Back Forty's is better than most. I usually get the "hot" version. It's an upscale, suburban setting for a barbecue. How upscale? The new executive chef's last kitchen was Lark Creek in Walnut Creek. It has one of the best bars in the area and they've designed the new restaurant with a great separate entrance for takeout with dedicated parking.
I honestly don't think the restaurant can be blamed because it's very popular at 6:20 on a Friday night. There aren't enough reliably good restaurants of this range in the area.