Tampa Bay Food Monster

…eating food since 1985.

Posts Tagged ‘BBQ’

Smokey Bones’ Smoked Prime Rib

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on December 6, 2012

steak is the best. it’s pretty much the best dinner ever. you get a steak dinner, and you feel like you’re tearing into an animal. there’s something primal about it. empowering. a steak dinner makes you feel like a king.

…but a prime rib dinner makes you feel like a god.

them smokey bones

i was given a so-very-kind invitation to come check out the new smoked prime rib dinner (¡¡¡LIMITED TIME ONLY!!!) at smokey bones. i have been to smokey bones before, long ago, and i recall it being a positive experience. “smokey” means smoked, and “bones” means meat, so one may infer that this is perhaps a barbecue type place. and, back when i visited the bones in my past, that would be a mostly accurate description. now, though…

inside the bone

oh. well according to this photograph, smokey bones is a rather low-key meeting place for the elderly, made entirely out of wood. but that’s not true! perhaps my photo skills are lacking. really, smokey bones has been completely remade in the image of the “kinda cool hip place”. it’s hard to describe exactly what it has become, partially because the restaurant now teeters between restaurant worlds. it’s kind of like a smokehouse meets an outback steakhouse. meets a late night club. there’s a huge bar. the lighting is low. lots of sexy cocktails. and some interesting placards, with information running the gamut between “servers are people too” and “hey boobs are pretty cool, right?” so yeah, a bit all over the place.

i do not dislike the makeover, but it is not the most comfortable. it can be summed up thusly: they played “we will rock you” by queen, and rather than play naturally through to the second part of the song, “we are the champions”, they played some sort of hard rock remix of “we will rock you”. the same song they had just played.

smoked wings

we began our meal with a nice appetizer, as recommended by the extremely kind and accommodating contact i had with smokey bones. i love wings. have i mentioned that before? big fan. i will start by saying that these wings are not traditional wings. they aren’t what you think of when you think of wings. instead, they are some of the most impressive non-traditional wings i have ever had. these bad boys are coated in rib rub and smoked, then fried, then coated in a DIFFERENT rub, then given a light sweet glaze. and they are incredible. super crisp outside, like fried chicken, with a delicious, steamy, tender smoked interior. perfect counterpoints to each other. salty and savory, and the glaze was spicy and sweet all at once. it was like eating ribs. tremendously good, and a must-buy for any visit to the bones.

smoked prime rib

and, of course, the smoked prime rib. prime rib – tender, juicy, melt-in-your mouth perfect beef. it is the most wonderful food i can imagine. dip it in au jus… what more could you ask for?

smokey bones’ smoked prime rib is a bit different, though. the rib is smoked in-restaurant for hours. the au jus is served on top, rather than on the side for dipping. and, to be quite honest, the whole thing is a disappointment. you would think that the ultimate in tender preparation would mix perfectly with the ultimate in tender meats. instead, you are left with a smokey monstrosity. one bite and you are overwhelmed with smokey flavor, masking the quiet, intrinsic beauty of the cut. the salt and pepper seasoning makes the edges just a bit too salty to enjoy properly. the au jus was a bit thick, almost more of a gravy than a juice. and, in spite of all conventional knowledge, the prime rib was not tender. it was not tough, but it was far more chewy than it should have been. the most enjoyable bites were those not dominated by the smokey flavor, found near the fatty portions of the rib. otherwise, this dish was sadly not worth ordering.

and i did not feel like a god. i just felt like a slightly disappointed man.

apple pecan crisp

the meal ended on an up note, however, with the apple pecan crumble. this delightful little dish was, again, recommended by my contact, and was superb. it’s basically what you get when you cross an apple cobbler with a pecan pie… which is just as amazing as it sounds. served super hot, with a lump of vanilla ice cream on top. the crisp crust played well against its hot sticky insides, melting the ice cream into a river of cool relief. a perfect dessert. the only thing i could ask for is more pecan goodness in a largely apple dominated dessert.

it was a good visit. the place has changed a lot, but it’s a kind of cool, hip change. the prime rib was a disappointment, but the dessert was great, and the wings warrant another visit all on their own. they also have a build-a-burger thing going on, with more options than you’ll ever need, which is probably worth checking out. and my friend got baby back ribs, which looked amazing. i’ll just have to realize my godhood elsewhere.

Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill on Urbanspoon


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Lee Roy Selmon’s Restaurant

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on September 26, 2011

the man

lee roy salmon… the man. the myth. the legend. he single-handedly took tampa bay and molded it into the lump of floridian half-pride that it is today. and then he died of a stroke. we honor his memory by eating the food he invented.

lee roy selmons

in the year 2000, outback steakhouse had sex with lee roy, and they had a baby. that baby quickly grew into one of the 10 best sports bars in america in 2009. :D it was called: lee roy selmon’s. sometimes it looks like a house.

what you’ve got here is your typical sports bar-type situation, with lots of screaming idiots, huge television screens, and SPORTS SPORTS SPORTS. so if you like that sort of shit, this may well be the place for you! if not, don’t worry! they still sell things like food and drinks, so as to keep you entertained while your friends mindlessly gaze up at the television screens and deny you the pleasure of their company.

inside lee roy

this is the new tampa location, on bruce b downs. it is a lot like outback, actually, but instead of all that bullshit traditional australian food (wait… do they serve australian food at outback?), they serve some badass down home southern cooking. this includes fried chicken, ribs, collard greens, and pulled pork. and gumbo. THEY GOT IT ALL AT LEE ROY’S (that’s their slogan). they also add a few little touches here and there to make the experience really something special. for example:

rolls with bbq butter

red lobster has their cheesy salt biscuits. olive garden has their breadsticks. outback has their brown color bread with sweet butter. lee roy selmon has these. this is one of their rolls. they are pretty decent as they are, pillowy and warm, but they add something i’ve never had before – barbecue butter sauce. it’s made of good. and i guess barbecue sauce and butter. it’s just excellent… sweet, salty, barbecuery. a great starter.

smokin tampa tea for two

i split lee roy selmon’s special “smokin’ tampa teat for two” with my girlfriend, which is pretty much a necessity at this place. it is a boozy kinda drink, reminiscent of a long island iced tea, except super fruity – “finlandia vodka, captain morgan rum, deKuyper peach schnapps, sweet and sour, grenadine, fresh orange juice and a floater of Meyer’s Rum”. OH HELL YEAH. also, it smokes like some kinda halloween cauldron, because of dry ice. it’s like drinking liquid harry potter, right in front of a bunch of smug jocks. score one for the nerds.

selmon brother's wings

and wings!! they have wings. this particular recipe, for the “selmon brothers wings”, has been passed down since the dawn of time, when the first selmon, keyrock selmon, killed a bird, marinated it for 24 hours and slow smoked it to tenderness, then grilled it to perfection with his spicy oklahoma sauce. instead of frying it. the sauce is a nicely spicy barbecue, and the wings are in pretty good condition themselves. they play like they’re grilled, but they love like they’re smoked. they don’t touch coppertop’s, not by a long shot, but they don’t really seek to. they’re solid wings, and they definitely grow on you.


i got a salad with my meal, which ordinarily i’d wouldn’t bother to photograph, but even the salads here are a bit different. they use shredded lettuce instead of leafy… leaves, so that it’s almost like eating a coleslaw. but not gross. it provides a unique texture, that puts a little spin on things. just like lee roy’s patented selmon spiral! i got a mustard vinaigrette sauce, which i always get there, because it kicks ass.

steakz and potatoez

here you go… proof of my manliness: steak dinner. with smashed potatoes. now lee roy loved his steak (even more than he loved his mama’s meatloaf). we all know the story about how he won superbowl 14 by distracting the third guardsmen of the opposing team with his famous selmon style filets. so it should be no surprise to learn from me that the steaks here are adequate. they’re pretty okay steaks. not bad by any means! they just won’t blow your football boots off. pretty good though. my friend and i used to come here all the time just to get steaks. and discuss politics. i used to be amazing.

anyway, i got the 10oz sirloin, medium rare (they do a good job of cooking to order). i ordered it “selmon style”, which means they toss some parmesan garlic butter on the top of that bad boy. you may as well go for it, because, as an associate and fellow food lover of mine pointed out, they pretty much season the shit out of these steaks. which is good if you’re in the mood for it! they have a good flavor. but if you are wanting raw bloody meat flavor, this isn’t really the place to go.

the smashed potatoes were just lovely.

sweet heat fried chicken

my girlfriend got this chicken stuff, called “sweet heat fried chicken”. i was expecting some straight up fried chicken, but i was wrong. they are boneless chicken breasts, fried and seasoned with some mildly spicy stuff. they were nice and crispy, but not very moist on the inside. they were served with some sort of sweet/spicy glaze sauce, though, which helped make it less dry. but it was easy to overdo it with the sauce. i’d stick to steakz.

so, all in all, lee roy’s is a pretty awesome place. typically, i like to avoid sports as much as possible, but i don’t mind getting all up in that football pitch for some lee roy vittles. oh! and the end of the meal, they “finish you off” with a hot hand towel, for you to wipe up your various body parts… or whatever. i don’t really know what they expect you to do with that thing. it’s kind of awkward really. but it’s all part of the lee roy experience. and that’s how he would have wanted it.

Lee Roy Salmon

“Heroes get remembered but legends never die.”
-Babe Ruth, Professional Footballer

Lee Roy Selmon's on Urbanspoon

Posted in Chain Restaurants, Food, Humor, Tampa Restaurants | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Ribit’s BBQ

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on September 2, 2011

i recently moved to hyde park. hyde park! it’s hip. it’s cool. it’s like nice tampa. nice. and it’s filled with many small, fun, locally owned places to eat. perfect! it’s perfect. except for one thing…

picture ©kkphotography

DOUCHEBAGS! DOUCHEBAGS EVERYWHERE! yes, this is the curse of hyde park – scads of douchebags, drinking, dancing, and making out all over the place. howard in particular, what with its macdinton’s and world of beers, is overrun by these yuppie thirty-something bastards, and each and every one of them is just as guilty as the next of making the world a terrible place.

so, let that be the backdrop to this evening’s particular food stop, for right across from the world of beer on howard sits this:

ribit's bbq

this is ribit’s bbq. a barbecue place, in the middle of hyde park, open until 3 am. wow! i was not expecting this! of course i got excited. i love barbecue! i love late night! and most of all, i love blatant copyright infringement! wait-

okay. so their mascot is a clearly ripped off michigan j. frog with a cowboy hat. hm. alright well that’s okay. it’s just theft. but look at their place! it’s so fun. it’s like, what… some sort of converted lube shop? neat. and what’s that noise? no, not the douchebag playing acoustic covers across the street, it’s something coming from the barbecue place! it’s… oh god no they’re blasting country music.

so maybe there are some problems. but that’s okay! no place is perfect. let’s get in there. let’s do this.

inside ribit's

so they have a window where you order, and a little counter where you pay and they bring the food out to you. seating is outside, and in a small area to the side. the menu features pork ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken breast, and sausage. they have a bunch of sides, both hot and cold, and have a few combos – piggy (one meat, two sides for $10.99), porky (two sides, two meats, $17.99), and oinkie (four meats, no sides. $39.99). wow! a small side by itself is $3.99. well alright. corn dog – $4.99. so prices. eh. i went ahead and got the porky platter.

the porky platter

i went with the ribs and pulled pork for the meats, feeling that they best represented standard barbecue fare. as for the sides, i foolishly asked for a recommendation from the lady taking my order, so instead of the collard greens and baked beans i had been planning to get, i ended up with potato salad and cheddar macaroni salad. two salads. yaaay.

…did i mention the country music? there was really loud country music!

so let’s get down to it – the meat. the true test of a barbecue place. all that matters; the beginning and the end. the meat. how was the meat?

the meat sucked.

arg. ARG. the meat was pretty crappy. now, to be fair, the meat itself was probably decent. not bad cuts of meat, big ribs. but what they did to it! it was… it was nuked. scorched. burnt to a crisp. the ribs were all char. it was not a smokey flavor. it was like eating cigarette butts. the meat underneath the char would have been decent, but you just couldn’t get past that char. it was overwhelming. my hands smelled like it. and the pulled pork was dry. both were tough. my theory is that rather than cooking it slowly at a lower heat, they cooked it quickly by way of flamethrower. or napalm.


they offered up four different types of sauces. from left to right above, it is spicy, tangy, vinegar, and sweet. all served out of giant coolers with spigots. the spicy was good!! it reminded me of a barbecue place i used to go to a long time ago in wesley chapel, which is now a medical clinic or something (RIP peacocks smokehouse). a bit spicy, with a well balanced, full flavor. the sweet was second best, made better by combining it with the spicy. the tangy was a sort of mustard based sauce, with a bit of sweet up front and a bite at the end. it was alright, but easy to get sick of. the vinegar-based sauce was just bland and boring, tasting like… well, vinegar.

potato salad

the surprise winner of the night was the potato salad, voted “most tolerable” by me! it was actually pretty good, made with those little red potato dudes, skins still in there. a perfect blend of ingredients. the cheddar macaroni salad was bland and boring.

oh, and there was country music playing! my girlfriend halfheartedly offered to do the electric slide, but then pussied out. so many disappointments.

really, all that can be said about this place is that they served bottles of mexican coke (they did not even make their own sweet tea!!!! outrage!!). my bill totaled 25 bucks. that was for one person. the whole thing was utterly disappointing. i knew late night barbecue was too good to be true.

the evening came to a close as the douchebags from across the street rebelled against their own, slaughtering the acoustic cover band and burning the world of beer to the ground. the barbecue place responded by turning the country music up louder. my girlfriend’s sister puked. i had a panic attack. my girlfriend did not do the electric slide. ribit’s mascot did this:

…and a good time was had by all. fuck you, ribit’s.

Ribit's BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Alex’s Southern Style Bar-B-Q

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on March 25, 2011

alex's bar-b-q

god bless you, america. you may not be the brightest, and maybe you’re a bit of a bully, but by god you sure know how to barb a cue. and i would venture to say that the south is the most guilty of all three accusations. the real south, not the florida south. so it’s a true blessing, an american miracle if you will, to have access to alabama style barbecue.

alex's interior

alex’s southern style bar-b-q sits amid plain shop after plain shop in a small strip mall by ehrlich and west village drive in carrollwood. the interior is very plain, with the walls yellowed by years of exposure to the massive open pit smoker. which is awesome. life needs more massive open pit smokers. to the right side of the photo are a couple televisions, in front of which sat a few old bicycles. i loudly inquired about their origin, and i received answer from the barbecue god himself, alex.

alex, the owner and operator, is a great guy. friendly and welcoming. comes from a big family, and you get that warm family feeling from him. he told us about his community project, “alex’s christmas bikes for kids”. every year, alex collects money for bicycles, both from himself and from donations, uses that money to purchase bicycles the day before christmas, and then he gives them to less fortunate children. “every kid needs a bicycle” he says. truly a noble cause. he told me they’d donated almost 10,000 bicycles over their 11 years in business. you can get more information at their website.

alex's smoker

look at that. you could smoke a manatee in there.

the staff is just as friendly and social as alex is, and apparently similarly generous. i’ve heard multiple stories of them giving out samples for indecisive customers to try out. hella samples. like, one of everything samples. i did not get any myself, so i cannot vouch for this! but… i hear tell.

so instead of getting a free sample of everything, i just ordered everything all at once. it’s called the “big boy platter”, and it really is one of everything. except wings. i had to order the wings separately. but it comes with ribs, chopped beef, pulled pork, chicken, and sausage, two sides of your choice, and a couple slices of white bread. yes. after i ordered, i filled my styrofoam cup with delicious sweet tea, and watched on as the man behind the counter worked his magic. magic is real.

alex's hot wings

let’s start with the wings. alex isn’t particularly known for his wings, so i can’t fault him for these. not that they’re bad! okay that was a bad start but really they were quite… okay. they were fine. just wings. nice big wings, fried to crispy, and you get a choice of mild or hot sauce. we went with the hot sauce, which was literally a hot sauce, like frank’s red hot sauce. it had to have been cut with something (butter?) though, because it was much more a medium than a hot wing. but i must admit that i did enjoy them, especially so when i ate them as leftovers, cold and soaked in the sauce. not bad.

alex's big boy platter

and here’s the big boy platter. i apparently didn’t have the foresight to take photos of each item individually, so you may have to guess at what certain things look like. each item is visible in this picture, though. from left to right (underneath the bread), is the pulled pork, the sausage, the chopped beef, the chicken, and the ribs. in the back are baked beans and macaroni and cheese. this entire plate comes to about 14 bucks, which was totally worth it for quantity alone.

alex has one barbecue sauce. just one. “what?? no options???” i hear you freaking out. deal with it. when there’s only one sauce, there’s only one choice. being used to places like hungry harry’s, which featured six different sauces, this was a bit jarring. but alex’s sauce is one good-ass sauce. it’s a sweet barbecue sauce, with a little bite to it. the food comes pre-sauced, and there’s some more on the table if you’re interested in extra. and you can buy it for your own personal use if you’re so inclined.

(i secretly was happy that there was only one sauce… that way i didn’t have to spend my meal trying each different sauce and deciding which is best; instead i could just enjoy eating.)

alright so let’s break it down. the sides were pretty decent. i had heard a lot of good things about the beans, so i was excited for them. they were a little sweet – mapley. definitely some brown sugar. thick. but i felt that they were not too special. maybe it was all the hype. they were good though. the macaroni and cheese was pretty good too. there wasn’t a lot of cheese to be spoken of, but they were a bit cheesey, and they had some seasoning on them that gave them a bit of a spice, which i really liked.

now let’s more from left to right on the plate. first up is the pulled pork. it was tender, moist, and juicy. very solid pulled pork. played well with the sauce. the sausage was incredible. i feel like i’d never had sausage smoked like this before, which may be wrong. regardless, this was pretty memorable sausage. it was a strongly seasoned ground pork, with nice thick casing. tender, almost to the point that it melted in your mouth. it have must been homemade. my only qualm with it was that the flavor was so strong that i couldn’t eat too much at a time. but it was delicious.

the chopped beef was my least favorite of the meats. they don’t use a beef brisket, but a different cut of meat entirely for this, which i can’t for the life of me remember. tip roast? i don’t know. but it was not great. the meat was a bit stringy, with a kind of gross consistency (it did not ‘chew’ well). it had a very pronounced beef flavor, but was not as smokey as the other meats. a bit bland. this one required the sauce, and was not the most fun to finish. the chicken, on the other hand, was very good. it was intensely smokey in flavor, quite tender, and delicious. the seasoning used on the skin was really well balanced. it didn’t even need the sauce.

but as it turned out, king of the meats goes to the ribs. they use giant ribs, and smoke them to the point of being ridiculously tender. the rib fell apart into large chunks of pink meat, which was lightly smokey the closer the meat came to the outside of the rib, but largely tasting of beef. so good i regretted not just getting a rib platter instead of the big boy. it was by far their best dish.

so it was great. alex’s bar-b-q was great. the guy is wonderful, the food is delicious and has a real personal feel to it. there’s a lot of love floating around that place. but not sickeningly sweet, sappy, romantic, why-am-i-alone love; humbling, positive, familial love. like the love between a man and a fine cigar.

so check it out. breath in the smoke. eat some ribs. donate a bike. and enjoy barbecue done right.

Alex's Southern Style Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

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Hungry Harry’s Famous Bar-B-Que

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on November 8, 2010

hungry harry's entrance

hungry harry’s famous bar-b-que. this is some hardcore barbecue shit right here. this is the good stuff. real barbecue. hungry harry’s actually is famous in land o’ lakes, as the home of land o’ lakes’ best smoked barbecue. and the title is well earned; hungry harry’s has been around for 26 years, and they continue to do barbecue right.

i went with a friend recently, and i’m ashamed to say it was my first time there, though i’ve definitely heard of it, and noticed its giant painted roof sign and huge smoker chimney each time i drove past it on 41, north of SR 54. we entered the small building and were greeted and told we could sit wherever we wanted. we chose our table, and looked over the menu.

my eyes were instantly drawn to the HE-MAN PLATTER, with an amount of food almost as ridiculous as its name: four large ribs, 1/3 a pint of pork (yes, meat is measured in pints here), 1/3 a pint of beef, half a pint of baked beans, half a pint of cole slaw, four pieces of garlic bread, and a pint of barbecue sauce. oh, and half a chicken. all this for only 27 bucks. my friend quickly talked me out of it, which was for the best, but damn… that’s one hell of a meal, for a great price. but i suppose that gorging myself to death wasn’t in the cards for me that day. instead i settled for this:

country rib platter

the country rib platter. all platters come with either a corn muffin or garlic bread, and then two additional sides. i went with garlic bread, and then i ended up getting the corn muffin as one of my sides, with baked beans as the other. and this specific platter came with three large “country style” ribs, delicious, tender, and a bit fatty smoked pork ribs. they are prepared with a dry rub on them, but that is about the extent of seasoning before they come to you, in order to allow you to choose your sauces as you wish. the garlic bread was delicious, with strong garlic and butter flavor while still maintaining a toasted crispness. perfect. the corn muffin was also quite good, nice and sweet, although a bit small. the baked beans definitely left something to be desired, though; they were very plain and rather dry.

chopped pork

of course i couldn’t stop there; i had to get more food. MORE FOOD! i ordered a half pint of chopped pork, which was tender and delicious. it retained a lot more of the smokey flavor than the ribs, which definitely worked for it. i didn’t care for it quite as much as the ribs, but that’s not to say anything against the pork… i just generally prefer ribs. but both were delicious, and next time i go there, i’ll have a hard time not just ordering the same meats.

of course, the meats don’t have to stand on their own. they do, but they don’t have to. and after tasting harry’s barbecue sauces, you won’t let them.

hungry harry's homemade sauces

hungry harry’s offers no less than SIX different types of barbecue sauces for you to choose from. that’s two or three more than any other barbecue places i’ve ever been. and they are each delicious and unique in their own way. the flavors are: the standard sweet and mild barbecue, a hot barbecue, two mustard barbecue sauces (one regular and one spicy), and their “land o’ lina” vinegar sauce. they were each worth sampling, and i would go as far as to say that i could have gotten through the entire meal with any one of them. but of course i had my favorites.

their three standard barbecue sauces were all very good, and all very different. the sweet was a nice honey-laden flavor, the mild was a good solid regular barbecue sauce, and the hot barbecue was surprisingly peppery, a take on the flavor i have never had before. the mustard barbecue sauces were exquisite, as they usually are, with a deep, smokey flavor, though there was not much difference between the two outside of the spiciness. the vinegar sauce was something completely new to me, a strong vinegar flavor mixed with more traditional barbecue sauce seasonings. i really enjoyed it, and could definitely see having a chopped pork sandwich just drenched in the stuff. my only complaint was that it wasn’t as strong as i’d have liked.

i ended up mostly switching back and forth between the hot barbecue, and a combination of the sweet barbecue and the spicy mustard, as recommended by our server, which provided the perfect sweet/spicy combination. each of the sauces are available for individual sale, and i will likely go back and pick some up.

this was an incredible meal, and of course i couldn’t finish. i washed it all down with so much endless sweet tea, the perfect compliment to any barbecue dinner. i would love to go back, and i’ll probably end up trying their half a chicken one of these days. i found that i left the restaurant in a hazy drunken barbecue stupor, as one should after a wonderful barbecue dinner. highly recommended.

HOLIDAY UPDATE: hungry harry’s is currently offering up a full thanksgiving menu for those too lazy to cook their own stuff, or just interested in a turkey smoked by some of the best smokers in the area.

Hungry Harry's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

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