Day 4, the last on the train I woke up somewhere in central Ohio, just west of Elyria. I got up and around, took my last train board shower (not an easy proposition for a Fat Boy, let me tell you) and then headed up for breakfast. The only difference on trains that start East of the Mississippi regarding the breakfast menu is that you get french toast instead of pancakes, so I gave it a try along with a side of pork sausage.
The french toast was good, but nothing special. It arrived quickly and was hot. Served with fresh strawberries as well as the syrup that was on the table. A nice hot meal, and supposed to be my last as I was SCHEDULED to arrive in Syracuse, NY at 11:48am.
Unfortunately, upon returning to my compartment I learned from the car attendant that we had lost another hour or so over night in addition to the two hours we were late leaving Chicago. This pushed my ETA into Syracuse out to 3:00pm. The joys of train travel. One of the things you notice as you travel through this part of the country is that contrary to popular belief in most of the country, there is a lot more greenspace and countryside in Northern Ohio and Pennsylvania than many would think. The second thing that becomes very clear is how devastated many of the larger cities are by a loss of manufacturing in the formerly industrial North East.
As the day progressed we lost even more time to track repair areas and stops to let freight trains pass us. In all we ended up reaching Syracuse more than five hours late, finally arriving at 5:12pm. We were late enough arriving that my planned ride couldn't pick me up, and I had to call in the backup. Fortunately Mike was free and got there just a few minutes after I collected my bags from the station. After loading into the Jeep we set off in search of dinner, and ended up at Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse, NY.
We arrived at Dinosaur BBQ just as cars were pulling in for a Tuesday night car show. We arrived just in time as we were seated right away, but soon there was a line around the block waiting for tables.
I ordered the combo plate they call "Ode to Lockhart", a huge plate featuring a homemade hot link sausage, a pile of beef brisket, and a quarter rack of ribs. Served with two sides and a nice chunk of cornbread for $17.95 this is a Fat Boy sized meal!
We'll go through this the way I went through the plate, left to right! The hotline was flavorful without burning your mouth on entry. Well spiced, almost brat like in flavor and texture with a little added heat. The smoke from the pit adds good flavor to a great sausage, making this an easy winner. The pics were perfect. The meat came away from the bone clean and easy, but didn't fall off on it's own. This allowed them to be eaten without being too messy or needing to resort to a fork (a cardinal sin for ribs in my book). The smoke ring was spot on, giving them great flavor and the sauce was just enough flavor without overwhelming the meat. These folks know how to 'que! Now the brisket. Brisket is something that is usually either over cooked or undercooked in my opinion, and both can leave you with leather. The brisket from Dinosaur was PERFECT. Juicy and tender, it held together when you picked up a slice but pulled apart with only a slight hesitation when eating. There was a great bark and about an 1/8" of smoke ring giving it good flavor with the bitterness that too much smoke can bring to meat. What fat was left on the edges melted perfectly on the palate, adding to the flavor profile perfectly. Rarely have I had BBQ this good across an entire plate. The sides were a mixed bag. The cornbread was good if a bit dry, but worked well with swabbing up the drippings from the que. The Mac & Cheese was great, done with pimento cheese instead of cheddar giving it a bit of heat and preventing the oily separation you sometimes find in restaurant Mac & Cheese. The beans were a disappointment though. Way too much sauce and not enough substance, it was more a bean soup than BBQ beans in my opinion. The flavor was good, with pieces of burnt brisket ends used for flavor, but I could have done with a thicker presentation.
In all the stop at Dinosaur BBQ was amazing, and it is easy to see why they have grown to seven locations in just over eight years. These guys know how to do BBQ right, and the servers and hostess' were great. Everyone was smiling and joking with us like we were old friends, even heckling Mike for ordering such a small plate of food after I placed my order. Dinosaur BBQ is a slice of Fat Boy Heaven in upstate New York, and my readers need to visit if they get near one of their seven locations. You won't be disappointed.
So the trip TO New York is complete, and I am at my hotel. Now I have a few days here before Mike and I hit the road back to Oregon. We'll head South first, to visit my cousin Sussex County, NJ and then to the Jersey Shore for a few days. Our next stop will be the Port of Baltimore to get Mike's Jeep loaded on a ship bound for Hawaii and his next duty station. There we will pick up a rental car and drive. Where we end up between the 19th and the 27th when we have tickets to see Def Leppard and KISS play in Vancouver, WA with my beautiful wife and awesome son we don't know, but I'm guessing Atlantic City, Reno, maybe Vegas and Louisville. Could swing through Nashville. Maybe your home town? Stay tuned!