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Bulldog BBQ - North Miami

Frodnesor Feb 7, 2009 08:05 PM

For a place that's not officially open, Bulldog Barbecue, the long-awaited BBQ place from Top Chef celeb chef Howie Kleinberg, was pretty busy tonight. They had a full house when we got there around 7ish, though we were able to squeeze in at the counter (which has about 8 seats), and the place stayed busy the whole time we were there.

Despite the non-descript strip mall location, the room actually has a nice feel to it, with modern furniture and fixtures and some dark red walls. The soundtrack is guitar rock of the '70s and '80s, and when it's full of people (as it was) the room can get a bit loud.

The menu is already up on the website so I won't give the full rundown ->
http://www.bulldog-bbq.com/files/menu...

We started with "BBQ Lettuce Wraps," which brought a pile of pulled chicken, a pile of shredded cheese, a ramekin of scallion studded sour cream, and a few big crisp leaves of iceberg lettuce for some DIY lettuce wraps. Not the most elegant presentation, but tasty, in a slightly white-trash-y, Bennigan's kind of way. I'm not knocking it, it tasted good. We saw some other dishes coming out that looked a bit classier, including a shrimp and corn chowder done w/ a cornmeal crusted shrimp w/ the soup brought out separately in a little teapot (to keep the shrimp crisp until serving, I presume).

Sadly, they would not do a half-and-half of the pulled pork and beef brisket - faced with this difficult choice, I went with pulled pork. It was good, not stellar, super tender but a bit bland - perked up quite a bit when doused with some of the neon yellow mustard-y bbq sauce provided, though (a milder red bbq sauce is also available). Tough to get a feel for how hard core low-and-slow they're doing their 'cue from this, I should have tried the brisket. Looks like they pull several portions of the pork and hold them at a steam-table type setup from which they do plating, which got re-loaded a few times while we were there. Also couldn't really get a good glimpse into the kitchen to see what the actual bbq set up was. A hot smoked salmon was also good, distinctly but not overly smoky, and cooked nicely to a medium so that it stayed moist and tender throughout.

Mains come with coleslaw (good but unremarkable), cornbread (ditto, though the kids loved it) and a choice of one side. We went with cheddar grits and mac & cheese, and added on an order of the sweet fries. The cheddar grits were interesting, surprisingly using what I believe was whole hominy rather than ground grits, held together with a nicely gooey white cheddar. Not at all what I was expecting but I liked it quite a bit. I'm still not entirely sure this wasn't in fact the "corn puddin'" also listed in the "fixin's". The mac & chee was of the neon orange variety (but not out of the blue box), and used a distinctly smoky cheese which I found overpowering and somewhat redundant, what with the smoked meats and all. The sweet potato fries were OK, a bit limp (tough to avoid with sweets) but tasted fresh and well-salted.

For dessert the kids went with s'more pie and milk & cookies. The s'more pie was a dense slab of chcoolate with a graham crust, topped with a generous shmear of gooey marshmallow which gets toasted with a blowtorch. A sweet, sticky guilty pleasure, though what I believe was some shredded coconut in the pie filling was an unexpected and unnecessary addition, which also contributed a disconcerting grainy texture. Milk and cookies was just that, about a half dozen home-made cookies (chocolate chip and butterscotch chip), which hit the spot for Little Miss F.

Beer selection was pedestrian, seems like a place that could really use even just a few carefully chosen microbrews to go with the 'cue. There are about a dozen wines, all nicely priced at under $25 / bottle.

Service was completely warm and friendly and food got out to the tables reasonably quickly; it looked like they were doing a good job of turning the tables throughout the restaurant, impressively so for a packed house and a soft opening.

I've voiced some kvatches here and there about a few of the food items, and I'm not sure based on what I ate that this is a place that will satisfy a bbq purist, but we definitely enjoyed our meal there and will certainly be back.

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  1. The Chowfather RE: Frodnesor Feb 8, 2009 08:09 PM

    Ugh, my suit pants aren't going to fit tomorrow morning.. I ate way too much but enjoyed all of it. Started with a shrimp & oyster po-boy. The shrimp and oysters were large, fresh and perfectly crusted with cornmeal. No issues with the bread. No Domilise's but it worked. Could be a tad small for $13 though. Also tried the pulled pork. I thought it was very tender and understand what Frod said about it being bland. That said, I actually enjoyed the fact that it wasn't over sauced. I thought it was good and easily better than anything I've ever had at Beach bbq. Mac n Cheese was solid and so was the chipolte fries. Looking forward to going back and trying the brisket and ribs etc

    1. n
      Nick RE: Frodnesor Feb 9, 2009 11:58 AM

      I went in for lunch today. Having read these two posts about the pulled pork, I decided to go with the ribs. To my surprise, I was told that there were no ribs for lunch, but that they'd be ready by dinner. I ate at the counter and definitely saw a few sheet pans of raw ribs being hustled around the kitchen. If these were the ribs that were to be ready by dinner, I wonder exactly how "low and slow" you can get between 1 p.m. and whenever dinner starts. Maybe these weren't the ribs for dinner though. I don't know.

      At any rate, I went with the pulled pork instead, which is my usual barbecue choice anyway. As others have said, it was a bland and not very smoky at all. (Does anyone else immediately check to see if you can smell smoke in the air when you get out of your car outside a barbecue restaurant? I do, and I couldn't smell any smoke.) The pork did indeed appear to come out of some sort of steam table, and it was sauced a little heavily, I thought (perhaps to keep it from drying out in the steam table). The sauce itself was thin, not the same as the sauce served in the squeeze bottles. The pork wasn't bad, but certainly not great. I thought the coleslaw was pretty good, as was the cornbread. I couldn't really detect anything particularly "chipotle" about my fries, but they were still tasty--crunchy and slightly battered it seemed. I saw ramekins of what I assumed was the corn pudding, Frod, and I suspect you did indeed get the grits, as the corn pudding certainly looked to be something different than what you described.

      My waitress was very friendly and kept an eye on my iced tea, asking if I wanted a refill before I needed to ask. The iced tea was good, but not sweetened. Big WTF on that one.

      I'm curious about the ribs and I hope someone reports here about them. I'd kind of like to hear something more positive before I went back myself. At this point, I'm not ready to drop another $20 on pulled pork, fries and an iced tea.

      13 Replies
      1. re: Nick
        advisor_Girl RE: Nick Feb 9, 2009 01:27 PM

        Yikes! Bubby Brisket.

        I'm with Nick on this one - "Smoke" can not come out of a bottle.

        I know it's best to wait until Bulldog gets past the puppy stage but for a restaurant that was long anticipated, the MEAT simply lacked any soul. BBQ is pretty sacred to some of us and generic cooked meat with "sauce flavor toppings" is not BBQ. Headband Howie needs less shul and more soul in the kitchen... and he needs to buy a REAL smoker or just call the place Bull BBQ.

        ::sigh::

        AG

        1. re: advisor_Girl
          l
          LargeLife RE: advisor_Girl Feb 10, 2009 07:18 AM

          Dang! I was all ready to go and thought I'd hook with FreakerDude so we could write the review together....But at least for the moment....Bulldog BBQ isn't on my "To Eat List" until I hear or read something better......Frod's review might make me re-think....but for the moment...not...not so much.....

          EMac

          1. re: LargeLife
            Frodnesor RE: LargeLife Feb 10, 2009 08:13 AM

            EMac - I know you're a real 'cue guy and, as I noted, I didn't eat anything that would tell me whether or not Bulldog BBQ is real 'cue or not.

          2. re: advisor_Girl
            l
            LargeLife RE: advisor_Girl Feb 10, 2009 07:22 AM

            $14 for half-chicken dinner? Dang! That'd better be good!!

            EMac

            1. re: advisor_Girl
              k
              kevdog RE: advisor_Girl Feb 10, 2009 07:28 AM

              Agree with AG here. Our experience at Bull BBQ was somewhat unhappy. I had waited for a while and had hoped that this place would deliver. For us, the best part of the meal was the fresh lemonade...the pulled pork my wife had was uninspired, as were the slaw, mac'n'cheese; the chicken sliders seemed ok, but nothing amazing, the shrimp and grits were my big hope - but with the whole hominy or perhaps just riced potatoes - the dish left me feeling completely unsatisfied. I guess i was hoping for ground grits, and I think most people's expectations when they hear "grits" are that.

              The meats seemed to lack an overall care of preparation and seemed almost generic and store-bought in quality. The service was excellent, and I hope that Howie can quickly find his BBQ identity, rather than try to put together a collection of mostly mediocre, IMO, dishes.

              PS. the desserts did look great, however, I could not order any after the mediocre-meal had taken up all the room in my stomach....

              1. re: kevdog
                advisor_Girl RE: kevdog Feb 10, 2009 08:46 AM

                Kev>

                I do not mean to be "Debbie Downer" but seriously - there are folks who dedicate their lives to perfecting the rub, the smoke, the right woods, the cook times, the marinades, the sauces and the end result is supreme FLAVOR. To review this restaurant and not consider "bland meat" an issue is just a deal breaker for me.

                I eat BBQ in dirty parking lots out of charred kettles in BAD neighborhoods. I will WORK for BBQ. It's just a lovely venue with friendly waitstaff and sub par flavor. Maybe things will improve...

                AG

                1. re: advisor_Girl
                  k
                  kevdog RE: advisor_Girl Feb 16, 2009 09:03 AM

                  AG - i don't think we're disagreeing here...i was being more euphemistic in my review though....

                  1. re: kevdog
                    ankimo RE: kevdog Feb 17, 2009 05:51 PM

                    another vote...pulled pork = disappointing

              2. re: advisor_Girl
                freakerdude RE: advisor_Girl Feb 10, 2009 09:04 AM

                He has cabinet smokers and you can Google his name to find the article that is in the first search link. He is afraid of oversmoking meat to a charcoal taste as many others do (?). If their pork is smokeless and bland, so will all of their other meats. The process is always the same. Is he serving fully coated pre-sauced pork? If so, this is a big no-no for anyone who has basic knowledge. Tasting the meat before saucing will give you a good indication of the process. Sauce should compliment and never be needed to give it flavor.

                So, how are the sauces? I am a sauce fanatic and am curious if he does these right. Yellow mustard based spicy but what else is in it? Is it sweet? How about the red? Does it appear to be spiced right or just tomato based average stuff?

                1. re: freakerdude
                  n
                  Nick RE: freakerdude Feb 10, 2009 09:47 AM

                  The mustard-based sauce was decent, but not great. The red was bland and very ketchup-y.

                  The pork did indeed come pre-sauced, which bothered me as well. While the sauce it was dressed with seemed to be lighter or thinner than the ketchup-based sauce served on the side, it still made it hard to tell what the pork actually tasted like.

                  All that being said, I would still go back after a while and give it another shot. I'd still like to try the ribs or brisket. I want to like this place.

                  1. re: freakerdude
                    Frodnesor RE: freakerdude Feb 10, 2009 10:28 AM

                    The pulled pork was pre-sauced, but, as noted by others, not with either of the table sauces. It was looser and more watery. The prominent notes in the yellow bbq sauce were mustard (powder?) and vinegar, not too sweet. I didn't try the other one.

                    Seems from the interview referenced above (which I've linked to below), they are not shooting for a traditional BBQ joint, but that leaves me unsure exactly what it is that they ARE aiming for.
                    http://blogs.menupages.com/southflori...

                    1. re: Frodnesor
                      Blind Mind RE: Frodnesor Feb 10, 2009 02:25 PM

                      Yellow bbq sauce is a South Carolina bbq thing and one of my favorites. If youre ever in the Columbia area, you gotta check out Maurice's BBQ. One of the best pork sandwiches Ive ever had, if not the best.

                      1. re: Blind Mind
                        freakerdude RE: Blind Mind Feb 11, 2009 09:07 AM

                        I have bought Maurice's mustard based sauces from grocers in the past but have not seen it in the last few years. There's something about a slightly spicy and sweet mustard based sauce that stands out among the other typical varieties.

              3. The Chowfather RE: Frodnesor Feb 10, 2009 01:14 PM

                Has anyone actually tried the ribs yet?

                4 Replies
                1. re: The Chowfather
                  jmdhsmiami RE: The Chowfather Feb 10, 2009 03:49 PM

                  yes, I was there for lunch today and when I went to cut them, the meat fell off the bone... Enjoyed everything about it. Portion on the brisket was minuscule and almost an appetizer portion. Also we had the oysters in a cornbread batter was great.

                  1. re: jmdhsmiami
                    w
                    Wursthof RE: jmdhsmiami Feb 11, 2009 02:04 PM

                    falling off the bone is not necessarily a good thing...especially in bbq

                    1. re: Wursthof
                      freakerdude RE: Wursthof Feb 11, 2009 08:45 PM

                      I definitely have to agree and this description is often used as good BBQ. FOTB can be done just as easily in your oven, Most Q aficanados prefer to bite the meat off of the bone rather than it falling off when you pick it up. It's a matter of one's preference really.

                      1. re: freakerdude
                        l
                        LargeLife RE: freakerdude Feb 13, 2009 08:37 AM

                        I'm with Wursthof and FD....Rib meat is to be tender but NOT falling off the bone...At least in accordance with BBQ purists....and I'm definitely a BBQ purist...But even I accepted the fact that it's hard to mass-produce BBQ purist BBQ!.....I love to try new restaurants...and I'll get to Bulldog BBQ sooner or later...and probably later than sooner based on these reviews....

                        I did read one of the links about the owner and what he wants to do and yes, it appears as if he's not aiming towards becoming a traditional BBQ restaurant....Hasn't proclaimed such....And isn't producing such.....It's very likely that he's aiming towards a brand of BBQ that will suit the tastes of those that live near this restaurant....and that's GOOD BUSINESS....I just happen to like Boston Butt Pork Shouders and Briskets to look like big lumps of coal!!

                        EMac

                2. r
                  rebus1805 RE: Frodnesor Feb 14, 2009 08:39 AM

                  I must have different BBQ taste than most posters. Have eaten at many Q places in North Carolina. BullBullFirst the negatives: bland cole slaw and mediocre corn bread. Positives: pulled pork and ribs very good. Yes, the ribs fall off the bone and that is a bad thing? Very flavorful ribs. Yellow sauce nice. Unique beans. Loved it and a huge portion. Could be an entree itself. Very loud and crowded the night we were there. Friendly service and Howie was watching every plate as it left the kitchen. For beer snobs, the selection was limited. Boo hoo, no Hoegaaden. Not so terrible for us to suffer with Bud even though it is owned by a Belgium company. Bulldog is a work in progress and I hope it will survive and prosper.

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: rebus1805
                    t
                    talmazor RE: rebus1805 Feb 14, 2009 03:48 PM

                    Who cares that Bulldog isn't for the "BBQ purist" and which "BBQ purist", Texas BBQ, North Carolina BBQ, Tennessee BBQ etc? Those "purists" don't agree with eachother. Personally if you served me a lump of charcoal and call it "real BBQ", I'll call you insane, send it back to the kitchen and explain to you that lunch was on you for trying to pull that over on me.

                    I ate lunch there the other day and had the Brisket and Beans, and both were outstanding. I understand that Bulldog is going through the growing pains, but the food is what matters to me and it was excellent. I'll be back again, and this time won't have a large breakfast so I can stuff myself silly.

                    1. re: talmazor
                      r
                      rebus1805 RE: talmazor Feb 15, 2009 08:43 AM

                      Agree with talmazor.

                      1. re: talmazor
                        Frodnesor RE: talmazor Feb 15, 2009 01:05 PM

                        *Who cares that Bulldog isn't for the "BBQ purist"*?

                        Well, BBQ purists, for one. I don't count myself among that group (though I do appreciate the art), but that's not to say that it doesn't matter to many folks. At this point, Calvin Trillin is probably as well known for his writing on 'cue as for anything else (and it is entertaining reading, here's an example) ->
                        http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/20...

                        For me, it's simply a matter of describing what kind of food they're dishing up - the same as Texas-style, KC-style, or NC-style etc. would be. Though there's little doubt in my mind that a properly-done, low-and-slow job is better than just about any other alternative, that's not to say that the food at Bulldog BBQ isn't good (indeed, I thought it was good). I hardly think anyone is suggesting serving a lump of charcoal and calling it "real BBQ".

                        1. re: Frodnesor
                          t
                          talmazor RE: Frodnesor Feb 15, 2009 07:20 PM

                          The problem with saying that Bulldog is not for the "BBQ Purist" is you're still not saying who is considered a purist. If you ask someone from Tennessee what BBQ is, they would say pulled pork period. Going out for BBQ in Memphis is going out for pulled pork, not ribs, not chicken....pulled pork. Now ask the same questions to a Texan and you'll get ribs, chicken etc. Again, ask someone from South Florida what BBQ is and you'll be told hamburgers and hot dogs on a grill. So to me the name explains it perfectly. It's called Bulldog BBQ, which tells me you better ask the Bulldog what he considers BBQ because that's what he's serving.

                          1. re: talmazor
                            Frodnesor RE: talmazor Feb 15, 2009 08:33 PM

                            - actually, Memphis is probably equally famous for its ribs as for its pulled pork.
                            - your response assumes people in South Florida are idiots; I beg to differ.
                            - while there may be differences from region to region as to predominant meat used and sauces, the cooking method (and the results) are pretty consistent; if you're not cooking with woodsmoke for a long time over low heat, it's unlikely you're going to impress a "BBQ purist" of any persuasion. That's what I'm talking about.
                            - by the same token, it seems to me rather obvious that if you are not following any particular "school" of BBQ cookery (and from the interview linked to above, HK makes clear he is not), then you are unlikely to appease a BBQ purist of any particular persuasion anyway.
                            - as I've already said, all of which is PERFECTLY OK so long as the food is good - which overall, I thought it was at Bulldog. The reality, as folks much more knowledgeable than me on the ways of 'cue (like EMac) will say, is that competition-style bbq is invariably difficult to duplicate in a restaurant setting. You don't necessarily have to strive to do that to put out good food.

                            1. re: Frodnesor
                              l
                              LargeLife RE: Frodnesor Feb 16, 2009 05:09 AM

                              Very well put Frod!...I am a BBQ purist.....I am a KCBS judge....That doesn't make me an expert....It just makes me someone that's had many opportunities to taste INCREDIBLE BBQ.....And i've had the good fortune to visit many of the "Mother Churches" of BBQ....And as I've written....competition BBQ is nearly impossible to reproduce in restaurants....and I know and accept this....That's why I'm not above eating at Shorty's....Sonny's....and the like.....because I know what to expect....and they deliver it!......After I read up on what "The Bulldog" is trying to achieve on another site....it's obvious that he's headed in that direction.....Of course I was being facetious about the 'lump of coal.....but some 'low n slow' meats are charred on the outside....and delicious on the inside....All a matter fo taste....

                              Emac

                              1. re: LargeLife
                                johnmlinn RE: LargeLife Feb 18, 2009 09:31 AM

                                You had me before you said "Shorty's." :-P

                                1. re: johnmlinn
                                  l
                                  LargeLife RE: johnmlinn Feb 18, 2009 10:10 AM

                                  Shorty's is...what Shorty's is!.....Grilled chicken fast.....Their Doral location is 500 feet from my office and we eat there once per week....It's chicken is so-so...their slaw is tasty....as is the corn....But it's not 'REAL' barbecue....And that's my point....I don't expect it to be....so there's no disappointment....BBQ is a great debate because there's so many different angles......When I want what I consider 'real bbq'.....I fire up my Big Green Egg smoker.....and do a brisket or boston butts for 16 hours or so....break out the Blues Hog sauce....some white bread..and we're eating 'real bbq'.....

                                  Emac

                                  1. re: LargeLife
                                    dmo305 RE: LargeLife Feb 18, 2009 12:26 PM

                                    I'm in?

                                    1. re: LargeLife
                                      w
                                      Wursthof RE: LargeLife Feb 18, 2009 12:30 PM

                                      Blues Hog Sauce...now now now pulling out the heavy ammo eh?

                                      Good stuff

                                      1. re: Wursthof
                                        johnmlinn RE: Wursthof Feb 20, 2009 09:28 AM

                                        I keep two bottles around the house for my pork shoulder smoking sessions: Blues Hog and Bone Suckin' Mustard Sauce. :-D

                                        PS - I've never been to the Doral or O.G. Shorty's, but I can tell you that the ones up in Broward serve only the completely inedible.

                                        1. re: johnmlinn
                                          l
                                          LargeLife RE: johnmlinn Feb 22, 2009 04:39 AM

                                          Blues Hog is my fave when it comes to bottled stuff.....I've been on winning KCBS teams that use that stuff right out of the bottle with nothing else...and win....So yea, it's pretty good.....Definitely my favorite "sweet sauce"....My favorite vinegar-based sauce comes from a BBQ joint in Waycross, GA called "The Pig".....Very peppery and flavorful....but not really hot....makes the top of your head tingle and that's it....just enough heat.....And my wife is in Waycross this weekend and bringing another couple of gallons home as it stores indefinitely in refrigeration......But the real 'secret weapon' is the Big Green Egg.....it can't be beat!

                                          EMac
                                          Ft. Pierce, FL

                      2. s
                        sunnygrl7 RE: Frodnesor Feb 22, 2009 06:56 AM

                        I had been looking forward to bulldog bbq opening, unfortunately it didn't live up to my expectations. My problem was the lack of seasoning! everything we ordered needed salt!!!

                        The cornmeal oysters were very juicy, but had not seasoning. The Coleslaw was actually on the very warm side. cornbread was moist, but not much flavor, the ribs were very tender (yes they fell off the bone, I prefer to bite the meat off the bone, but that is my preference), but agian had no flavor. The baked beans were okay, the mac and cheese looked like it had been sitting for days and was tasteless. the pulled pork was okay but again needed seasoning, and the dinner rolls that they served with the pulled pork were cold. the chipotle fries had NO chipotle (again no seasoning).

                        As for the bbq sauces - well that was a debacle. The red bbq sauce tasted like watered down ketchup and the mustard bbq sauce was just mustard.

                        I think he will actually do well, since the Aventura crowd tends to like a more bland style of food. My biggest gripe is that I ate lots of finger food and only used 1 paper towel, yes only 1...that is NOT bbq. There was nothing to lick off my fingers : (

                        1. Frodnesor RE: Frodnesor Feb 22, 2009 10:36 AM

                          Return visit, tried:
                          turkey chili - ground turkey, white beans, layer of toasted cheddar cheese almost like the gruyere over a French onion soup, plus sour cream and crispy cornbread bits. The cornbread crumbs were a nice addition. Very hearty. Can't imagine having a bowl of this and then a full plate of 'cue.
                          cornbread crusted oysters - Howie the chef showing off with a pretty presentation - three oysters with a nice crispy coating, yet not fried to oblivion, each served over a bed of diced avocado, tomato and onion, and topped with a green herb and garlic aioli. The oysters were nice, the flavors worked, but this seemed a very dainty portion (particularly compared to most others).
                          beef brisket - A humongous portion, this looked like a whole side of beef on my plate. This is far from a traditional Texas brisket, with the crispy exterior and the smoke ring on the inside. Rather, it's plated up sort of wet with some pieces shredding apart. But Howie makes clear he's not shooting for traditional 'cue: "My brisket is a cross between Jewish brisket and Texas brisket. We’re going to get that smoke and that flavor, but just adjust it to our taste. Every chef and every person has their own thoughts on food, and this is just one of mine." Whether or not you agree with the goal, the Jewish-Texan cross-breed is indeed a good description. Me, I'd prefer one or the other, though this still ain't all bad. Again, though, the flavor leaves something to be desired, just sort of bland.
                          burnt end beans - the little charred crispy bits from the brisket which fall off when slicing are not much to look at but bring plenty of flavor and texture. These beans have far more than just burnt ends in them, in fact there was so much brisket it took me a couple minutes just to find the beans. The beans were sweet, as were some crispy fried onions on top. These would fall into the guilty pleasures category, and you could easily make a whole meal out of this side dish.
                          chopped salad - this was Mrs. F's order. Sorry, didn't try it.

                          Tried the red bbq sauce and didn't like it, just sort of sweet and nothing else really going on.

                          Though it's not going to satisfy hard-core 'cue seekers, I've still enjoyed the couple meals I've had here. But some tweaking does seem in order. Seems to me if you're not going with traditional low-and-slow style, you need to do something to perk up the flavors.

                          www.foodforthoughtmiami.com

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Frodnesor
                            dmo305 RE: Frodnesor Feb 23, 2009 06:42 AM

                            We stopped in yesterday for our first shot at the place. Apparently they close between 3-5 pm but nobody was at the door when we walked in and sat ourselves around 3:15 so they let it slide.

                            As soon as we ordered our waitress brought our coleslaw and cornbread. I thought the cornbread was pretty good but not great, and the coleslaw actually quite weak. It was lacking both flavor and "juice". It was a bit peppery and dry as well.

                            We also started with the oysters which were quite tasty as Frod said although our oysters had a piece of bacon on top of each oyster (always a good thing). The oysters were perfectly fried although I agree the portion is a bit wimpy.

                            My gf ordered the Chicken Sandwich which was a large herbed grilled breast, two thick slices on the diagonal served w avocado, arugula, tomato, and sometype of herb aioli on a sesame bun. It was better than the average chicken sandwich and not BBQ-ish at all. She enjoyed it. The sweet potato fries were pretty good, although gf did not care for them.

                            I ordered the 1/2 & 1/2 Ribs and Brisket. The brisket was exactly as Frod described, served wet and a bit fatty. It was a bit bland but not lacking in all flavor. I still ended up squirting both BBQ sauces on my plate and dragging each bite through varying amounts of both though. The ribs I thought were very good, and I will definitely return for these. They were smoky, and very flavorful, and I preferred eating these with no sauce. Mine were a tiny bit dry but that didn't bother me much because I really liked the flavor here.
                            My chosen side was the mac & cheese, made w cheddar jack parmesan and blue, with the blue a bit overpowering.

                            More ribs are in order.

                            1. re: dmo305
                              Frodnesor RE: dmo305 Feb 23, 2009 09:43 AM

                              I forgot about the bacon cap on the oysters. You're right, Everything's Better With Bacon.

                              www.foodforthoughtmiami.com

                              1. re: Frodnesor
                                advisor_Girl RE: Frodnesor Feb 28, 2009 03:51 AM

                                Fro:

                                We returned to BBBQ last night with friends and found a 15/20 minute wait at the door. Clearly Headband Howie is not suffering the new restaurant blues. The crowd does seem very Aventura on a Friday night - white, coiffed, monied, and sparkly.

                                Vowing to go elsewhere on the menu than my last not so successful visit, I ordered the white turkey chili and it was very tasty. The ground meat is simmered with white beans, a BBQ sauce tomato base and a quick melt of cheddar on top. The best part for me was that of all our orders, mine was the only dish served hot (credit a quick spell in a microwave or under the fire to melt the cheese) because food temp really matters to me. Everyone tasted the chili and agreed it was the most successful dish.

                                AB went with the sack o' sliders, a choice of pulled pork, chicken or brisket that is presented on a sheet of faux newsprint. The platter is a SMALL ramekin of pulverized-to-nearly-sawdust shavings of lean, fat-free pork stirred with some BBQ sauce and 2 out-of-the-bag commercial potato dinner rolls, a side of fries and then you Do It Yourself for $10. AB described the texture of the pork as "pre-chewed."

                                My friend had the lettuce wraps with pulled chicken; a plate dominated by a pile of iceberg sheets, a small room temperature tablespoon of pulverized chicken breast meat stirred with that same wash of sauce and a larger handful of commercially chopped cheese like they sell at Publix in the EZ bags and a ramekin of sour cream. No presentation points here - just slap, plop, serve. Cold lettuce, room temp chicken shreds, cold shredded white cheese and sour cream are not the stuff of dreams.

                                I know people rave about the Cheesecake Factory. They say the food isn't great but WOW the portions are so big. This always makes me laugh - bad food and PLENTY of it. At BBBQ, there's very little on the plate for the money.

                                Perhaps this is the point of impasse for me and BBBQ. We waited to sit down, waited a LONG time for service, got served ALL our food in under 120 seconds and then the staff hovered and swooped in to clear our plates WHILE we were eating no less than 4 times. AB literally half-stood to GRAB his dish from the waiter's hands! I understand turning the tables is important but our asses were in those chairs under 35 minutes soup to nuts. This is Fast Food at Slow Food prices. Ribs are $15-$21 dollars. A HALF chicken is $14. A 1/2 and 1/2 combo is $19. Skirt Steak $22. Not to put too fine a point on it but at Flannigan's they let you sit and drink with your friends for WAY less money and the BBQ served is bigger and better (and I am no fan of it but at least you don't feel bum rushed).

                                The kitchen is prepping all the food well in advance and holding it on a steam table for a lightening quick serve time. Howie stands outside the kitchen expediting at the window and not speaking to guests nor hosting his dining room. Appearing on Top Chef with all of his bombast may have been a function of clever editing but you can FEEL people straining for a word with the big guy and he seems to sort of shrink away... He is clearly NOT the Bulldog. I got that "poor King Kong" feeling last night.

                                I guess I'd prefer to see him swearing and sweating into the food inside the open kitchen or at the very least making a quick pass through the room to capitalize on his 15 minutes on Top Chef, saying "Hi and How's the food?"

                                Then again, if he had asked me I'd have told him to pack his knives.

                                Woof.

                                AG

                                1. re: advisor_Girl
                                  l
                                  LargeLife RE: advisor_Girl Feb 28, 2009 04:19 AM

                                  Not on a bet! Thanks for that review AG!

                                  Emac

                                  1. re: advisor_Girl
                                    freakerdude RE: advisor_Girl Feb 28, 2009 11:58 AM

                                    I love your reviews....straight to the point, you don't miss anything, and you cut no slack to anyone!

                                    "I eat BBQ in dirty parking lots out of charred kettles in BAD neighborhoods. I will WORK for BBQ". Yeah, you're my BBQ partner dream come true.

                            2. g
                              greeneyes RE: Frodnesor Feb 28, 2009 07:26 AM

                              Awful! I was incredibly disappointed by Bulldog BBQ. Went wotha friend and ordered BBQ Chicken, salmon, grits, wedge salad, chipotle fries and "chowder with shrimp" all the meat was dry and overcooked, including the huge shrimp in the chowder.

                              The salad was decent, but the buttermilk ranch was unnecessarily thick, almost cloying. It was topped with over fried onion strings that lacked a distinctive flavor.

                              Chipotle fries were nice and crisp, but not terribly "chipotle." The grits were not grits, but in fact hominy, which, mixed with a sharp cheddar sauce, was far too starchy.

                              Lemonade was decent, tea was not sweet tea, WTF is right!

                              The BBQ sauce was deplorable- two are left on the tables- a very thin watery red that had decent but abominably weak flavor, and an also thin yellow that tasted more like mustard than BBQ sauce.

                              Meals came with a minuscule sample of decent but boring coleslaw and not awful but uninspired cornbread.

                              For the price, this place was a waste of money and an insult to tastebuds.

                              1. MGTico RE: Frodnesor Mar 11, 2009 04:35 PM

                                Today the family went to Bulldog on a whim...(happened to be hungry and in the neighborhood). We got there at about 1:45 in the afternoon. There were only about 5 tables sat, not too busy. I am a huge fan of BBQ, have my own smoker, grill, etc so I was a bit excited to see how some of the dishes compared to my own creations.

                                I was a bit dissapointed. We ordered some lemonaid, loved the concept of making it to order, but it seemed to merely be about 1/4 of a lemon squeezed into a glass with undesolved sugar on the bottom. I think simple syrup would have made a difference in the taste, at least it would have been uniform.

                                Wife got the Grilled chicken sandwich which she seemed to like. I felt the breast had good seasoning but was a bit firm. The sweet potato fries were great honestly. My daughter got the chicken tenders. Nothing special but a good portion for the price. I was torn between the brisket and the pulled pork. I opted for the pulled pork just because this is something I make at home. It was ok, not really smokey, tender though. I tried the BBQ sauce provided. It reminded me of the sauce you get at Arby's, thin with no depth of flavor. The "chipotle fries" were what seemed to be generic restaurant fries sprinkled with a powder, no real flavor at all. I would be very surprised if these were home made. Cornbread was dry, and the cole slaw pedestrian at best.

                                The service was warm, nothing special. I had asked the waitress if the food was smoked in-house, and she had said yes. There was no real BBQ type of smell emulating from the place which made me a bit weary. When I am smoking food all my neighbors know!!! I didn't need there to be smoke filled plumes apon arrival, but to me this IS BBQ.

                                1. Frodnesor RE: Frodnesor Apr 22, 2009 11:39 AM

                                  We were back there this weekend for another visit (the kids over-ruled my Yakko San vote - they were Asian'd out after having had dim sum at Tropical for lunch). Continues to be something of a mixed bag.

                                  Liked the fried oyster app again, oysters nicely crispy outside while still tender within. Good combo with the bacon hat, the dot of green garlic mayo, and the bed of diced tomato avocado and onion.

                                  The pulled pork that came w/ Frod Jr.'s sliders was at least more vigorously spiced than previously, though still lacking in very much smoky essence. Everyone liked the chipotle fries that came with.

                                  I had shrimp & grits, which came with four sizable grilled (? maybe not, seems they also brought a little wee bit of pan sauce to the party too, so perhaps sauteed) shrimp (U10 or bigger) over the most massive bowl of grits I have ever seen. It was just obscene. The grits were studded with fresh corn kernels and enhanced with cheese. Pretty tasty on their own, but not the right pairing for a shrimp n grits. I brought home at least half the grits and made two more meals out of it, in combination with some sauteed sausage and greens. Plus they came with a side dish too. Just a silly amount of food (our server said she's offered to buy dinner for anyone who finishes it all in one sitting and hasn't had to pay up yet).

                                  I understand it's Aventura area, where food is judged by quantity as much as quality, and that grits are cheap, but this really seems sort of over the top. What makes the portioning so odd is that on a prior visit, I saw Chef Howie riding one of the kitchen staff over a dessert portion that he thought was too big. Go figure.

                                  While it may not be filled with bbq purists, it's definitely filled. Tables were packed on a Sunday night with folks waiting to get in.

                                  www.foodforthoughtmiami.com

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Frodnesor
                                    advisor_Girl RE: Frodnesor Apr 22, 2009 12:14 PM

                                    Fro'

                                    Lee Klein threw Howie a major bone in the NewTimes. Called the place a WINNER in the first paragraph of his review and then went on to say the food lacked flavor. Great for the ADD set who only read the first few lines.

                                    http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2009-04-...

                                    To wit - "One would imagine spice rubs and longtime smoking are at work here as well, but the flavor offers little evidence of either. "

                                    I liked the comments section (compared it to Pollo Tropical) but I can't work out how it's a winner if there's no flavor and he ended by saying it's crowded and not expensive so it must be worthwhile... (vox populi).

                                    Klein concludes - "...cornbread is cornbread, and ribs are ribs here. A couple of items prove better than prototype, most simply meet the bar, and a few fall short of that."

                                    Miami Newspapers are Winners but - uh - they're firing all their writers...

                                    I miss 21 Toppings.

                                    AG

                                  2. y
                                    YonaShyml RE: Frodnesor Dec 25, 2009 06:15 PM

                                    I agree with the original post. We returned tonight to Bulldog, and the overriding impression we have is that this place is the real thing--not so much from the BBQ purists view, but from the sense that its owner/chef Howie really cares and is deeply involved in making the place whatit is. The wings and ribs were super tonight, even my difficult to please kids enjoyed it all. desserts are a pleasant surprise; try the milk and cookies. Wish we had this closer to us in Dadez. all in all, the Miami area needs more places like Bulldog. It's the real deal and rates an A in this foodie's book.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: YonaShyml
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                                      LargeLife RE: YonaShyml Dec 28, 2009 01:18 PM

                                      I guess if owner/chef Howie had called Bulldog BBQ...."Chef Howie's Place".....instead of Bulldog BBQ....which would imply that it's a serious BBQ place....then the BBQ purists....like myself wouldn't be so critical......

                                      EMac

                                      1. re: LargeLife
                                        y
                                        YonaShyml RE: LargeLife Jan 9, 2010 01:54 PM

                                        Uh, I guess. It's a small place in a non-descript strip mall in Aventura. Not the most likely spot for "serious BBQ." My view is mostly based around perspective that one can take a family there after a day at the nearby mall, or theaters, and it is a solid place the owner puts a lot of individual effort into--like a "bulldog," and I like that. I agree that it is not the most serious BBQ place one could pick. It's a great place from my point of view though, I think we need more places like this in So. Florida.

                                        1. re: YonaShyml
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                                          LargeLife RE: YonaShyml Jan 10, 2010 05:25 AM

                                          Your opinion is duly noted, Yona! That's why Chowhound exists!

                                          Emac

                                    2. j
                                      Jeffmiamichow RE: Frodnesor Mar 9, 2010 05:45 PM

                                      The food is not bad, but its hard to call this place a real BBQ restaurant. The pulled pork is smothered is sauce and is cooked in a crock pot. The ribs are not smoked but cooked in the oven - again, not real BBQ, not compared to Q in the Design District. Sorry, I will not be back

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