This past Friday night (Feb 1, 2013) my wife and I had a rare night without the kids. They got invited to a sleepover birthday party and that left us with a free evening. She needed a break from studying and I wanted to just get out so, we decided on the classic “dinner and a movie” date night.
Having been to just about everywhere in Noblesville and almost all of it being ‘chain’ restaurants, we were at a total loss on where to go. After a quick few spins on the Urbanspoon slot machine iPad app, we landed on Big Dog’s Smokehouse BBQ in lovely Cicero, Indiana. After reading a few of the reviews, they all sounded positive except for one – which, I always figure that there is at least ONE person who just loves to rag on places so, I usually disregard bad ones. Nonetheless, off we went.
Big Dog’s is located smack in the middle of ‘downtown’ Cicero in an old motorcycle shop. Parking is either on the street or just across the street in a parking lot which, seemed to be ‘public parking’ but not sure. Either way, the outside of the building was decorated in that quaint, rustic, mom and pop, roadhouse sort of way which was nice but, the best part was the strong smell of smoking BBQ eminating from the place. I was starving the minute that smokey goodness found my nose.
Inside, the decor matched the outside. A lot of Coca-Cola memorbillia and old motorcycle signs and a booth seat made from an old Coca-Cola refrigerator! Pretty cool. As soon as you step inside, you are right at the counter where you order. The place is seperated in two sections, the counter where they take your order and the seating area, seperated by an open doorway. The menu is a huge sign on the wall which included BBQ staples as St. Louis style ribs, brisket, chicken, pulled pork, smoked sausage and the like. You can get bulk orders of meat only or combos with 1 or 2 sides. All were priced reasonably with no real surprises. On their website (www.bdsmokehouse.com ) you’ll find their menu and other information.
Ok, so, let’s get to the food. I couldn’t help myself and ordered a full rack of St. Louis style ribs (wet with the “Outrageous Original” sauce) and a side of Macaroni and Cheese. My wife got talked into pulled pork platter with a side of French Fries. I say ‘talked into,’ because she wanted just the sandwich but, the lady taking orders told convinced her that the platter was the better deal so, that’s what she went with.
We went into the other room and found a table. There were a few people there but, not really busy. Which is good since the dining room looks to only hold 30 people or so. Anyway, after a short wait, the guy came out and brought us our food. It smelled fantastic and looked even better. Unfortunately, that’s about as good as it got. The ribs weren’t very tender – which was expected since they are smoked and not braised – what I didn’t expect, though was for them to be as tough as they were! I had to cut them with the plastic knife they gave me. I don’t mind a little ‘bite’ to my ribs but, that was ridiculous. On top of that, the rub they used, mixed with the ‘wet’ BBQ sauce and made the mixture grainy, cement-like and, altogether inedible. I choked down about 3 ribs worth before I gave up. On the positive side, the macaroni and cheese was decent. Nothing exciting but, they were nicely cheesy and tasted good. They didn’t nearly serve enough in the small container they came in but, I guess, if I were to eat all of my ribs, I wouldn’t have any room for the side at all. The roll it came with was closer to a hockey-puck than a roll.
On the other side of the table, my wife’s pulled pork platter looked good as well. It was a mound of pulled pork meat, upon which she had to put on the sauce. The sauce choices at the table were “Simply Sweet”, “Outrageous Original” and “Smoking Hot”. My wife chose the “Simply Sweet” and she liked it. She said the fries were fantastic but, her roll was ‘puck-like,’ too and she said that the pork had quite a few pieces of gristle and inedible parts but, over all, she said it was ‘ok’.
I got a box to take the rest home with me, planning on giving some to the doggy at home. When we left, no one said ‘good bye’ or even acknowledged us on our way out. So, another negative there. As we walked to the car, we both decided we were not going to be heading back there again. Which is sad because I really, REALLY wanted to like this place. It had so much going for it: Location, atmosphere, smokey BBQ smoke wafting into the night – just so much. But, in the end, it didn’t work out.
Final verdict – Well, if you’re wondering at all at this point, you need to re-read the review. I’m going to go on a 1-5 star scale – 1 being lowest, 5 being highest. Big Dog’s Smokehouse BBQ gets a 2. I’m going to give it that many simply for the sauces they have as they were pretty tasty. I hope that other items on their menu are better but, I won’t find out. I just can’t see myself going back for more.