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Nov 5, 2011 06:26 PM

T-Rex new menu [Berkeley]

T-Rex changed its menu recently:

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  1. Went for brunch today.

    I tried the Arthur Bryant-inspired burnt ends, which I've read should be fatty and have crunchy bark, but these just seemed like dry chunks of lean brisket. Tasty sauce. Would not order again.

    Burnt ends came with the potato salad, which I always liked and looked the same, but had blue cheese in it, which to my taste clashed badly with the barbecue sauce. Would not order again.

    Had a couple of bites of the Carolina pulled pork sandwich. Seemed leaner and dryer than the old version. The highly herbed mustard sauce was delicious but overpowering. OK but would not order again.

    The sandwich came with cole slaw that was quite good, very traditional with a slight sweetness (not too much) but with hot pepper. House-made BBQ potato chips seemed the same.

    Spareribs and occasionally brisket have always been the main draws for me, I'll have to go back to try the new versions.

    T-Rex Barbeque
    1300 10th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

    6 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Have you tried Ironwood BBQ in Berkeley? I have been meaning to give them a try.

      I haven't found any terrific BBQ worth recommending, though I have enjoyed Bo's in Lafayette for brisket about 10 years ago. Not sure if it has stood the test of time.

      Ironwood BBQ
      2130 Oxford St, Berkeley, CA 94720

      1. re: Scott M

        I was late to the Bo's bandwagon, but it after over 30 years has supplanted KC as my favorite BBQ joint. Bo's ribs are so good they don't need sauce. Any time I am east of the Caldecott, I find my way to Bo's. Still like KC better than anywhere else when I want to stay closer to home.

        1. re: chocolatetartguy

          Count me in as Bo's lover. It has been awhile since I have visited because I rarely get out that way, but I always though it should get more love on these boards.

          Bo's Barbecue
          3422 Mount Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA

        2. re: Scott M

          They do a nice pulled pork sandwich. However all the food is brought in from their San Francisco location at the GGP Golf Course.

          1. re: Scott M

            I don't need to leave town for brisket, Smoke Berkeley's is the best I've had.

            Smoke Berkeley
            2434 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            My Uncle went to what he called Trex (1 word, syllable) before Thanksgiving and had the shortribs. He was not impressed.

          3. Tried the spareribs last night. They were nothing like what they used to serve, or like what I think of as barbecue. Tasted like they'd been roasted in a hot oven, no detectable smokiness. Judging them as roast pork, I'd say, nice dry rub, good pork flavor, but that's not the right cut to cook that way.

            BBQ orders come with the blue cheese potato salad I knew from my last visit I didn't like or want but no substitutions.

            The formerly great vegetable sides were gone, that section's now dominated by a bunch of starchy, greasy stuff. I lamented about that to the server and she said they serve what's in season. Uh, the old cauliflower salad would be in season now, and the grilled asparagus they did have is not.

            I might go back for the happy hour, but I need to find a new place for spareribs in the East Bay.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              So the ribs at your local BBQ, Smokey J's are not to your liking?

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Sorry for the imprecise nomenclature. The baby back ribs were not to your liking?
                  Baby Back Ribs Full Rack....................................................................$14.99

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I had the same experience right before the menu change back in September and have not been back.
                I spoke to the waiter about what was happening he eventually said that the restaurant was not making payroll among with the many food problems.

              2. I went back today to see if things had improved under the new owner.

                Spareribs were not bad, little bit dry but decent flavor, not as smoky as I like them, spicy sauce was not very spicy but had a nice tang. They were slathered with sauce even though I said on the side. Small order ($14) was six medium to large ribs, good helping, came with pretty good slaw and a slice of white bread.

                Brisket slider ($4 on the happy hour menu), similar story, little bit dry, pretty good flavor, not as smoky as I prefer. Came with some BBQ potato chips.

                Brussels sprouts with butternut squash ($8) were nice though I'd have liked them roasted more (as they used to). Needed salt. Big serving.

                Pork and beans ($8, big serving) was pretty good but I couldn't detect any smoky flavor, was improved by adding some of the BBQ sauce.

                BBQ potato chips with blue cheese dip ($4 HH menu) were solid, big helping.

                The food was definitely better than last time I was there. For spareribs and/or brisket I'd get takeout from Smoke, but T-Rex is decent if you want sitdown BBQ with drinks, and the happy hour is a great value.

                10 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  This is still rather subdued "praise".
                  Guess I'll have to wait till I'm back in Austin in about 10 days...plan to hit Snow's BBQ in Lexington, maybe Franklin's in Austin, J. Mueller's new place in Austin...I used to live about 1 mile from Mueller's (the original) in Taylor.

                  Sorry, I"m spoiled! But might try Smoke just for a grin...!!! Not too hopeful, though! I was interested in T-Rex's burger...thumbs still down???

                  1. re: sambamaster

                    Have you tried BSide? My boss says that the brisket is better than anything she has had in Texas - she doesn't tell her in-laws in Texas that though ;). Personally, I find it a little expensive but it is probably one of the better BBQ places in the Bay Area.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    My husband and I used to be huge fans of T-Rex (he loved the long-cut beef short rib and we both loved the tangy, vinegar-based cole slaw). However, they've been going downhill, both in terms of food and service, for a long time in my opinion. Our most recent visit was about 6 mos. ago, and we pretty much said that there was no reason to go back at that point. Based on your review here, I'd say that's still the case. On that note, have you tried B-Side BBQ on San Pablo? Went there once a few weeks ago and were surprisingly impressed. Will have to try it a couple more times to get a good gauge on things, but for now, its much better than T-Rex!

                    1. re: chemchef

                      I found the food consistent for a long time until it went downhill quickly in 2011. It seemed fairly deliberate, like the chef was fixing things that weren't broken.

                      Service has never again been close to as bad as it was when they first opened.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        What T-Rex now has are appealing meal-sized salads, and you can add Fried or Grilled chicken ($3), brisket ($4) or salmon ($5) for a protein. Given the convenience factor, this has placed it higher on my lunch radar.

                        The happy hour riblets are really good. ($8)

                        1. re: lmnopm

                          Agree about the salads. Also had a pretty good fried oyster po' boy with a ridiculously large pile of house-made bbq potato chips. With Sea Salt gone, that's where I get my po' boy fix.

                          1. re: lmnopm

                            Thanks for posting about the salads + grilled chicken or fish. it's something I'm often looking for.

                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I went back last night for the first time in a long time and agree with Robert that it's better than it was when it was bad. :) The blue cheese potato salad is gone and the potato salad they have now is fine.

                        We had the spareribs and they are exactly as described above: big and meaty and not very spicy.

                        We also tried:
                        Crab cakes. Not good. The arugula salad with orange (tangerine?) sections was fine.
                        Chicken wings. I didn't try them, but they disappeared quickly.
                        Grilled asparagus. Pretty good, smoky, crisp. My favorite thing.
                        Green beans. Bacon-y, also fairly crisp. Not bad.
                        Fried chicken. I've enjoyed this in the past and it was still good though very salty with a dark crust that seemed on the verge of being overcooked. Came with mashed potatoes -- didn't try.
                        Mac & cheese. A very creamy "loose" version. Okay flavor.

                        There was no dessert menu, but we were told they had chocolate cake and "lemon meringue." We ordered both, assuming that the lemon would be pie...but it was cake. Okay. Not made in-house, I'd bet.

                        Service was very nice and I'd say the place was a good choice for a multi-generational dinner. Much better than the ghastly Pyramid brewery was last time. I think the food has improved somewhat under the new ownership.

                        1. re: Glencora

                          I haven't been for dinner in awhile, and also heard that the chef left recently. I checked out Yelp out of curiosity and it looks like things have very recently taken an immediate and serious slide. Recent lunch salad was fine.

                          1. re: lmnopm

                            We went for happy hour for the first time in ages.

                            RIblets - great.
                            Fries - great - fresh, hot and crispy for a change.

                            Wine list - it seems like most of the wines by the glass are priced as follows: Whatever the local retail price for a bottle is pretty much what we're going to charge you for a glass. Of course, at happy hour, it is $2 off/glass. This is just absurd pricing, and reason to drink the happy hour cocktails at $5 or $6 each.

                            Guy at the next table had awful ribs and "it was reported to the manager" - I hope they took them off the bill.

                            I haven't had the regular dinner menu in ages, so I don't know if the recent "elsewhere" reports are accurate, but yesterday, at Stella Nonna, some guy went off the hook telling other people he was talking to just how awful his recent experiences at T-Rex have been.