Located in a small shopping center on busy Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami is Bulldog Barbecue. Chef Kleinberg from Top Chef Miami created a menu which offers North Carolina-style barbecue and this restaurant will be celebrating its fourth anniversary next month. How did I find out about it? According to Bon Appétit magazine, it is one of the best barbecue restaurants in the nation and I was looking to try something new.
Every time I see lemonade on a menu, I have to ask whether or not it is house-made. I like a good, tart lemonade and fortunately, Bulldog Barbecue makes their own in-house. As a matter of fact, the server-in-training offered me an Arnold Palmer and I accepted. An Arnold Palmer or, half-and-half, is basically a combination of iced tea and lemonade and boy did they have a good Arnold Palmer. It was clear that the iced tea was freshly brewed and the lemonade flavor was ever present with a nice balance of tartness and sweetness. In fact, the lemonade was so flavorful that I had a regular one as well. And, come on, check out the drinking jars!
To start, I ordered the crispy pigs in a blanket. I simply wanted to see and taste how different these would be from the traditional appetizer. As soon as the plate arrived, it was apparent that a good hot dog was used and that the “blanket” was flaky. Unfortunately, these little piggies did not make it all the way home. They were hot, fresh, and oh so juicy! The sauerkraut was not necessary but it did not hurt the dish.
As I stared down the menu, I wondered what kind of protein I would like but was overjoyed to see a barbecue platter as an offering. Therefore, I was able to taste the chicken, pulled pork, and beef brisket. Now, I was not sure if Bulldog had their own sauce which all of the meat was basted in but I was pleasantly surprised when the server brought my plate and two sauces. One was a honey mustard which I did not feel was really appropriate for barbecue but the other sauce was absolutely delicious. The tomato and vinegar-based sauce was slightly sweet and went well with the meat. And, what a great compliment it was to the smoky barbecue flavor. The brisket was easy to pull apart with just the right amount of crispy edges; the pulled pork was tender with natural flavor, and the chicken fell right off of the bone.
Unfortunately, the sides left me a bit disappointed. The coleslaw came with the meal and was actually pretty decent. I am not a fan of coleslaw to begin with; however, this one was not too sweet and had a subtle flavor. The macaroni and cheese was okay but it lacked creaminess and was rather dry. Now, about the fried pickle chips: They did not taste fresh and I was not a fan of the cornmeal breading. Also, I will give Bulldog the benefit of the doubt and say that they might have had an off day, but the pickle chips were pretty salty, enough to where I could not finish them. Regardless, the cornbread was pretty tasty. Most likely made with brown sugar or molasses, it had a sweetness to it and was quite amber in color.
I probably should have ended my meal after my entrée because the s’mores pie was burnt and overly sweet. The graham cracker crust was just fine but the chocolate portion was dense, grainy, and quite sweet. I also tried to find out what the chocolate portion consisted of since it was not a traditional s’more; however, I was told twice that the pie was a graham cracker crust, chocolate and marshmallow. The best part was probably the marshmallow fluff but it was clearly burnt on top.
While the barbecue beef brisket, pulled pork, and chicken were all flavorful, the sides and dessert did not do much for me. Like was aforementioned, perhaps Bulldog Barbecue was having an off day but I had a delectable beverage to wash it all down with. On a scale from one to four mouthfuls, one being poor and four being excellent, Bulldog Barbecue was okay, earning two mouthfuls.
15400 Biscayne Blvd
Aventura, FL 33160
By Miami Food Critic, Héctor F. Mañón