Tuesday night, Canadian Lou and I finally went to Troy and checked out Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. We showed up at 7.30 and were told the wait would be an hour. No problem. We knew that going in. We went out to the parking lot, sat in the car and listened to the best of Howard Stern on Sirius. 45 mins later, our buzzer buzzed and inside we went. So far, so good.
Inside, the place looked exactly like it did when Fresno's was there. I was hoping for more of a makeover, but sitting right on the Hudson the way it does makes for a nice ambiance anyway. We were led to the table by a hostess and a few minutes later our waitress came, delivered her prepackaged, "Is this your first time at Dinosaur?" routine, then went to fetch our drinks. My first thought was that everything about this place was very chainy. All the hype for Dino has been huge, but to me it felt like another Smokey Bones or Applebee's. We opened the menus. Canadian Lou commented on the high prices. I agreed. 15 minutes later: still no drinks. Another waitress came and told us our waitress had fallen down, she was OK, but our drinks would be out soon, very soon. Ugh, it doesn't get more chain-place than that.
We put in dinner orders and an appetizer of fried green tomatoes. The app came, $6.00 for 3 small toms. Not bad, but not good. 55 minutes later: still no dinner. Plus the tables are just benches with no backs, so sitting hunched over like that for so long with no food, really sucked. Our waitress came and told us that there was some "technical difficulty" in the kitchen and our food would be up soon, very soon. Ugh!! To keep us satisfied she brought me and Lou a single cornbread, one cornbread, overcooked and rubbery for us to share. At the 1 hr mark, finally, our food: A full rack of ribs to share, plus 2 mac and cheese sides, 1 french fry side, and 1 cole slaw. It was 9.25. Let's eat.
I couldn't wait to dig into my mac and cheese, but guess what? No fork. I couldn't wait to tear into my ribs, but guess what? No bone bucket. So I ate the mac with my hands and threw the bones on the table. As for the food: as typical and chainy as it comes. The ribs were rubbery and had to be ripped off the bone instead of "falling off" (Smokey Bones: way better), the sides were clearly just microwaved, and the cole slaw/fries were 100% run of the mill. This pitch that Dino is some "authentic home-cooking" or whatever is ridiculous. The food was clearly prepared by two 19yr olds who go to HVCC part time. When the bill came: $51.00, nothing comped for the epic wait, we just paid it and left, not feeling like we got away with anything.
I'll say this: Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue is nothing but another American chain place that falls victim to every chain-place trick in the book. When you walk in the place it promises robotic efficiency then drops the ball at every turn. The place promises great prices and great food, then delivers obviously-microwaved food at pretty high prices. The room is filled with the same cliche people who populate every chain place: the typical American family, the young couple, the two business guys sitting at the bar in neckties trying to score with the hot bartender or waitress by buying into every gimmick and ordering every dumb, Dino drink, and just being really pathetic. The place is decorated like any other chain place you've ever seen, the same music plays over the dining room, the same gimmicks are promised, the wait staff delivers the same scripted chatter. At the end you pay the bloated but reasonable bill (somehow it's always both), leave the tip that equals double the tax, then go home feeling as ordinary and cookie-cutter as possible. If you love Applebee's and TGI Friday's, if you like big hype over substance, you'll LOVE Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue. The place was packed with people and people waiting, so I'm guesssing most of you do.
I predict in 3 months, once the buzz wears off, the place will have tumbleweeds blowing through it. It was just so darn chain-placey, I actually felt a little depressed when we left, a little ripped off. I told Canadian Lou in the car that I felt "boring" for even going there, but she was mad that something fell off the table and stained her $140.00 boots.
You can throw bells and whistles at me till the cows come home, but the fact is the Dino product is as plain and ordinary as it gets. I don't see myself ever going back. Although I don't retail shop in the local stores, I do leave eating out to the locals, and next time you see me I'll probably be at the Villa Valenti or Ralph's in Albany. Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue proves that you can't paint lipstick on an Applebee's pig.