After hearing from a co-worker about a hidden away barbecue place that is a must try, my friend and I set out to investigate. We brought along our boyfriends, because they both heard the word barbecue and insisted on taking part. We actually had to look up the name based on the address, because all we knew was that it was on Wade Road. We soon discovered that The Bull and Barrel Smokehouse Grill was our destination for the night, and it is actually located where the short lived Grape and Growler originally set up shop.
We made reservations, which we may or may not have needed to do, but I am always more comfortable planning ahead. It certainly has a “local” look from the outside but when you walk inside, the decor no longer matters because the smell is outrageously delicious.
We were seated quickly, and handed both the food menu and the beer menu.
The beer menu was nearly the size of the food menu, so my boyfriend decided to do a flight, which for $9 gave you four good size glasses. They also offered a surprising variety of hard ciders (one our go to’s), so my friend chose the locally brewed Nine Pin, and I went with the 1911(which is also a New York brew). The drinks arrived fairly quickly, and we had all checked out the menu online in advance, so pretty much knew what we wanted. We ordered the Smokey BBQ Nachos to start, and placed our entrée orders at the same time.
The nachos arrived quickly, and the smell alone made us want to dive in. The smokey flavor resonated throughout, but it was not over-powering. The serving size, however, was massive, and our entrees arrived quickly so we did not have time to even make a sizeable dent in them.
Prior to placing my order, I couldn’t decide on which side to order. There were so many options. I asked our server her opinion between two items and she gave me a quick firm answer, which means a lot, as it shows the servers actually know (and like the food).
I chose the smoked prime rib sandwich, which featured caramelized onions, cheddar cheese and a maple horseradish sauce, with a side of waffle fries. It also came with a side of au jus for dipping, which was a major added bonus. When it arrived, the sandwich was exactly as described, and it was served piping hot, which is really important to me. The actual sandwich was massive, easily could have served two people. I cut one of my halves into an additional half to make it easier to dig in, and the ease with which it was sliced proved just how tender the meat was. My first bite sold me, and I actually had to pace myself. The meat was juicy, the cheese hot and plentiful, and the horseradish sauce had just enough spice that it was tasty but not over powering. The waffle fries were good, but after seeing everyone else’s side, I might be a bit more “brave” and pick one of the other options next time. My friend had the exact same sandwich, but had mac and cheese as her side, which she promptly declared as “amazing”. It was not a small serving as a side either, it was a good sized crock style bowl.
Both guys ordered the brisket platter, and neither of them left any to spare at the end, so that clearly shows they highly enjoyed their meals. They each chose different sides (their meals came with two), and the baked beans, and red beans and rice ranked as their favorites.
When we were finished with our meal, my boyfriend snuck a peek at what a nearby table was eating, and asked the server that it was. Apparently it was the dry rubbed ribs, and he has declared that will be his choice for next time.
My friend and I each ended up taking home about half of our sandwiches, and more than half the nachos. In hindsight, we probably didn’t need the nachos, only because our meals were so large and filling – but they were great re-heated the next day.
Before tip, our bill came to about $45 per couple (we are a group that just splits right down the middle). Which for drinks, and meals that ranked that high, we thought that was a great price.
We haven’t set a date to go back yet, but we will be. It is certainly kid friendly as well, and my daughter is a huge fan of ribs, so I will probably bring her along next time as well.
The moral of this review is, don’t judge a book (well, restaurant) by it’s cover, because it would have been super easy to drive by The Bull and Barrel and not stop, but it is more than worth the visit, and we will be back (and soon!).
Elizabeth Schaefer has lived in the Capital District her entire life and currently resides in Niskayuna. She spends the majority of her time at the gym, as both an instructor and a “gym rat”, but strategically plans on at least one “cheat” meal a week. Please submit suggestions on places to try, for either a health conscious tasty meal, or for that weekly cheat meal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.