Yum. Mom and I had just polished off a delicious meal of tasty, slow-cooked barbecue. We agreed — it’s good stuff but you can’t have it too often. The number of calories we consumed must have been astronomical — even in my salad. But it sure was good.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit just opened in the recently expanded part of Clifton Park Center; they’re neighbors of Dorothy O’Day’s Irish Pub. It’s a Texas-based chain that presents itself as pull-up-a-chair casual, with rustic wood paneling and corrugated aluminum walls, black-and-white photos of guys in cowboy hats, and wagon wheel chandeliers. Head on back through the slightly hazy dining room to the counter, but grab a card stock menu on the way. It’s easier to read than the counter menu.
An easel holds a “Deal of the Day,” sign with six deals for $7.99. Dickey’s menu gives you a few basic options: sandwiches, meat plates, baked potatoes or salads, and then there are take-out and catering options. A wide variety of sides are two bucks each, but you get two if you order a meat plate.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
WHERE: 22 Clifton Country Road, Unit 47, Clifton Park. 396-5844, www.dickeys.com
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
HOW MUCH: $21.39
MORE INFO: Wheelchair accessible. Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover
Place your order
Step up to where the sign says “Order here” and if you can look over the high counter, you can watch the guy cutting and chopping smoked meat. At this point you’re thinking it smells pretty darn good in here, and boy, does that meat look delicious. We went for brisket and pulled pork, but you could have Virginia ham, turkey or chicken breast, Polish or cheddar sausage, or ribs.
Mom wanted everything. I steered her to the two-meat plate ($10.50) and she chose creamy coleslaw and waffle iron fries as her sides. “I need another order of fries,” the meat-slicing guy called to the register guy, who dropped a basket into the fry vat.
The meat was sliced and weighed and placed on a brown-paper covered plastic platter, which was passed over to the sides guy, who served up the slaw, added a few white rings of fresh onion, and the register guy served up the fries when they were ready. It’s not really clear where you’re supposed to stand while you wait.
My smokehouse salad ($7.99) threw off the assembly line a bit, first sides guy had to plate up the Romaine then pass it back to meat guy, who chopped up some brisket and sent it back. They don’t ask what vegetables you want on your salad, because as you quickly learn, it’s not about the salad. Mine was topped with shredded orange cheese and breaded deep-fried onions, and I stopped meat guy just as he was about to squirt ranch dressing over the whole thing.
All this took even longer than it sounds, but Dickey’s just opened and the guys were just learning the ropes. We finally made it to register guy, who sent us to the condiment bar. There’s a bit of an ordeal here, as well.
You’ve finally got your food but now you have to put it down to ladle on warm barbecue sauce. Then reach right for forks and knives and left to fill drinks and if anyone else is there you’re reaching over each other. Thank goodness the napkins and ketchup are on the tables. Trays would be helpful here, and this space needs a re-design to improve efficiency.
At last we addressed our food. “Mmm,” we both said at the same time as we dug in. “It was worth the wait,” said Mom between forkfuls of brisket and pulled pork, adding, “It’s excellent.”
Getting down to it
And it was. The waffle fries were salty and crispy, and the coleslaw was nice and fresh.
How was the meat? “The brisket literally falls apart,” said Mom, who also liked Dickey’s special barbecue sauce. We both thought the slightly fatty and blackened brisket was delicious. Mom left some pulled pork, which was a little dry. But all the flavor has been bred out of pork: It’s lean and dry and that’s not Dickey’s fault. The sauce helps.
When I ate the last of the dark Romaine leaves, my salad was a bowl of brisket, cheese and tanglers, Dickey’s special fried onions. Not a bit healthy, but that’s a salad I can enjoy, and I did. The cheese melted agreeably over the meat, and the spicy breaded onions were salty and delicious. Next time I’ll get a brick-sized baked potato and pass on the sour cream for a somewhat healthier meal.
Free ice cream
Dickey’s has free soft-serve ice cream in the dining room. We wouldn’t have ordered it because we were pretty full, but free? We had to have some. Mom sent me to make a cone, “Like the one in the picture,” and I can tell you it’s not as easy as it looks. I wanted just a taste, but the stuff comes out fast, and before I knew it my small cup was overflowing. Mom’s cone was not like one in any picture. But we ate it anyway.
The tab for the meal was a reasonable $21.39, which included a small soda for Mom. My meal came with a drink.
We are regulars now, according to the drink card that meat guy dropped on our table. “Two more and it’s free,” he said. Kids eat free at Dickey’s on Sundays, and you can join their big yellow cup club for more perks.
At Dickey’s, the prices are reasonable, the portions are generous, and service is friendly.