Bone-Yard BBQ Restaurant Showcase
When it comes to finding really good BBQ in this area, I often say that your chances are fairly “hit or miss.” Oh sure, there’s certainly no shortage of businesses that claim to be the best, but when it comes right down to it, it seems that most places are either right on the mark … or so far off that you can’t find the door fast enough. As of late, I unfortunately seem to be finding a whole lot more of the latter, leaving me with but one question: Why is it so hard for some places to get it right??
That being said, when I first heard that this week’s “Restaurant Review” would be taking place at The Bone-Yard BBQ, my ears instantly perked up. You see, I’m actually VERY familiar with the Bone-Yard’s food, having ordered from their truck several times in the past, and I can honestly say that I have yet to walk away disappointed by anything off of the menu.
“Sweet! Are they coming here with the truck?” I asked. “No. You’re going over to the restaurant.” Suddenly, I was a bit confused. “Restaurant? Wait… where’s that??”
As foolish as it probably sounds, I guess I had never put it all together that Bone-Yard BBQ was not JUST the truck (that we all see out at events around the community), but an actual restaurant, as well. How in the world have I lived in this area for nearly 44 years and somehow missed this?? It turns out that The Bone-Yard is located right here in Utica, at 244 Roosevelt Dr. Who knew? (It honestly makes me wonder what else I am missing as I make my way around the city.) I decide to head on over, and try out one of their specialty items that always seem to have people buzzing: their signature brisket.
Driving up to the restaurant, I have to revisit my question from earlier; how have I missed this place? Although the actual building is a bit small in size, a massive sign with the “Bone-Yard” logo hangs above the door, and bright red flames are painted across each of the front windows. As if that wasn’t enough to draw your attention, the food truck is parked in the side yard … a large smoker mounted on the back, as well as a sign which states “The Soul of The South in The Heart of Upstate NY” attached to the side. The aroma coming from the smoker fills the air, just begging you to stop in and check things out. No need to twist my arm, as I am more than eager to oblige.
As we enter the restaurant, one of the first things we notice is the atmosphere that the owners have created with the decor, and I am immediately reminded of the many BBQ “joints” that I would frequent while still living in Florida. The walls are all painted fire-engine red, with either white or black trim, and adorned with a collection of beer signage and sports memorabilia. A jukebox is located on the far wall, from which a steady stream of guitar-heavy blues (Stevie Ray Vaughn, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker) is playing in the background. The dining area consists of high-top tables and “four seaters” with paper towel dispensers (as opposed to napkins) available at each one. This is definitely a “working man’s” eatery … And I immediately feel right at home. All else aside, the thing that stands out most noticeably in this room is the traditional hardwood bar running along the adjacent wall. With its sides covered in diamond-plate aluminum, and accented with recessed blue lights, it certainly sets the tone for the rest of the room. It can be said that, in many ways, this place could easily pass for a biker / Harley Davidson bar. In back of the counter runs a traditional liquor shelf, which seems to be well-stocked with an impressive selection of familiar brands. There is also a see-thru cooler filled with an array of domestic bottled beers, in addition to a tap system, set up to serve some popular favorites (Labatt Blue, Coors, Bud Light and Utica Club). Though our group isn’t really here tonight for libations, I can’t help but imagine what this room might look like during the summer months, perhaps after a typical Saranac Thursday. I can almost picture a line of Harleys parked along the outside of the building, and their owners filing through the door for some late-night food and drinks. In addition to the decor, I also take notice of just how clean the restaurant appears to be, especially in comparison to some of the other places that I have been to recently. Everything seems very neat and orderly, and it is obvious that under this owner, cleaning ranks high on the list of priorities.
As we grab ourselves a table, our waitress (Nikki) is quick to come over and take our drink orders. She also takes a few moments to answer some of our questions … mainly, what exactly is this “Garbage Plate” that I see on the menu?
“Ah, the Garbage Plate.” She laughs. “You’re certainly not the first to ask.”
The Garbage Plate, as she explains, is a concoction of pulled pork, baked beans, corn, and coleslaw … all just kinda “piled up” on a plate, with BBQ sauce poured over the top. “Don’t let the name scare ya.” she re-assures us. “It’s one of our best sellers. I think you just need to try it in order to truly appreciate it.”
Being completely honest, it sounds like something that would be right up my alley … and I might just have to plan another visit in the not-so-distant future to give it a try. For now, however, I have my sights set on the brisket. I’ve been thinking about it for way too long to switch things up now. To complete my order, I am also going with a side of salt potatoes, and my go-to favorite, macaroni & cheese. The two folks I’m dining with tonight, Dave and Mario, are going with the pulled pork and more of the brisket, respectively. Their sides include coleslaw, baked beans, and most importantly, chili … for which Mario seems especially eager.
“Not many places have really good chili.” he insists. “I’ve tried about a zillion, different places, and it’s always the same … either too sweet or way too spicy.” “Much like I always say about getting BBQ.” I add. “It’s amazing how many places struggle to get the recipe right.”
As we continue on with our discussion, we are approached and greeted by Craig, one of the Bone-Yard’s co-owners. After introducing himself, he tells us a bit more about the business, and what makes them different than other BBQ restaurants in the area. One of the biggest differences that he says he notices is the amount of work and preparation that goes into each item on their menu prior to serving.
“We smoke our meats all day long just to make sure they come out right. We never cut corners. We’ll spend about 12 hours smoking our ribs … and the brisket usually takes about 16.”
It’s definitely a long process, he admits, but one he feels can be appreciated when you taste the final product. Craig also states that living in the south for several years really helped him develop a respect for true “Southern” BBQ, and when he came back to New York, he made it a point to bring that same great taste to this restaurant.
“People living in the south are extremely passionate when it comes to BBQ. They take a lot of pride in their food, and in the recipes, they use to prepare it. That’s exactly how we do things here. We’re definitely passionate… and make it our mission to deliver the best quality food to our customers.”
Craig finishes by thanking us, and just the same time as we are shaking hands, Nikki is returning to our table with our food. My mouth is watering before she even has my plate on the table. That very same aroma that was coming from the smoker earlier, is now coming from my own plate, and it’s taking everything I have not to instantly dive right in. Unfortunately, Mario reminds me that I’ll have to wait a few more minutes while he snaps some photos to accompany this review. As he moves around the table with his camera, going quickly about his business, I take a moment to admire our meals. Simply put, the portions are HUGE … and there is very little doubt that I will be taking a good amount of this home to eat later on (I tell Nikki before she even leaves that she might as well get me a box to take this home in). A few more snaps of the camera, and even Mario agrees that it’s finally time to put away the camera and get busy eating!
From the very first bite, the brisket is simply delicious. It’s unbelievably juicy, and tender to the point that I can practically cut it with just my fork. This is exactly what I was hoping for as I daydreamed of brisket all day. The potatoes and mac & cheese are wonderful as well, and round-out the meal perfectly. Meanwhile, Dave and Mario are raving about their food as well. Dave admits that this might be some of the best pulled pork that he has tried, and Mario, though certainly enjoying his brisket, is absolutely raving about his chili.
“Perfect.” He repeats himself over several times as he finishes his meal. “Not too sweet, not too spicy…. just perfect.”
Over the course of the dinner, Nikki returns to our table several times over to refill our drinks and see if there is anything else that she can get us. She is not only attentive to our needs throughout the night, but also extremely personable. She is exactly the type of waitress that you hope to encounter when dining out. Our table is also visited about midway through the dinner by Nick, one of the cooks from the kitchen. He comes out to ask us how the dinner was, and seems genuinely pleased to see that we will walk away satisfied. I have to admit, for a small, locally-owned restaurant, they certainly have exceeded every expectation I could have ever had.
As we head for the door, each with boxes of leftovers in our hands, we are thanked once again by the staff for dining at the Bone-Yard. Nikki reminds me jokingly to be sure to visit again … so I can “have a ‘go’ at the garbage plate” we talked about earlier. I most certainly will, I insist. In fact, if you guys keep making food like this, I might just become a regular.
My final thoughts – The Bone-Yard BBQ is absolutely a “diamond in the rough” and I highly recommend it to anyone who may not have been there yet. Is it the biggest restaurant, or even the flashiest? No, not even close. The waitresses aren’t racing back and forth wearing name tags and “flair” pins, and the menu isn’t 8 pages long with 400 different options. Then again, the Bone-Yard certainly isn’t trying to be that place anyways … and they aren’t making excuses or apologies for it. What they are, simply stated, is a good ole’ fashion, blue-collar BBQ “joint”… that makes delicious food at a fair price, cooked up and served to you by a top-notch staff that takes obvious pride in their work. Just like the sign says … “The Soul of the South”… available to you right here in Central NY. Overall, if you’re looking for a quality dining experience, with great food and large portions at a price that won’t put you in the poorhouse, you owe it to yourself to give them a try. You’ll certainly be happy that you did.
Bone-Yard BBQ 4-1-1
Where: 244 Roosevelt Dr., Utica
Hours: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sundays
Web site: http://boneyardbbqcny.com/
Rich Massucci / The Fuze Magazine
Mario Lomedico / Picture This Photography / The Fuze Magazine
You may also like...
Sorry - Comments are closed