The Brisket Alley Tray at Big Dogs BBQ
Why is bowling so popular? I mean if the lanes were a lot shorter, gutter-less, and had twice as many pins, I might get it. And I don’t remember ever heading to a bowling alley for the food. But at the Orleans Bowling Center they’re serving up more culinary curve balls than they have bowling balls, and I’m hoping it becomes a trend. Owner Dave Currier has a tiger by the tail with his Big Dogs BBQ restaurant, and the chef who brought the tiger to the party is Diane Lipinski, formerly of Lorraine’s Mexican Cafe in Provincetown. Dave and his long-time girlfriend and restaurant manager, Brook Carlson, are avid home barbecue smokers, and when they met up with Diane, well, the rest is smoky, slathered history.
The menu highlights mounds of pulled pork poutine; fried green tomatoes with creamy maple chipotle sauce (crispy yet tender, and not the least bit gloppy); Brooks’ grandma’s colossal buttermilk biscuits with honey butter; several styles of wings, all treated with house-made rubs, then smoked and fried; sauteed collard greens with house-made bacon; and a luscious farm salad of mixed greens, fresh and dried fruits, nuts, veggies, and lemon-thyme vinaigrette—one of the prettiest salads we’ve seen in a long time.
But we’re here for barbecue so we go right to the Alley Trays section of the menu where you can choose from fried chicken, brisket, pork belly, sausage, ribs or pulled pork (all smoked in-house), and one hot and one cold side dish. Reading that the brisket (at a reasonable $18) had been smoking for 14 hours, we went for it. For the sides we had the broccoli slaw and the corn pudding. Both transported the meal from traditional campfire fare to something far more sophisticated and complex. The slaw comprises shavings of broccoli, red cabbage, carrot and fresh cilantro tossed with honey (for sweetness), red pepper relish (for kick), cumin (well, because it’s cumin) and garlic vinaigrette. The corn pudding is pure, supple magic—cream cheese, creamed corn, and a dash of milk make it practically melt before your lips, but the delicate textures of sprinkled corn meal and whole corn kernels add pop. And the two giant slabs of brisket: barbecue perfection, no knife necessary. The flavor of the brisket depends on your choice of the three tabletop dipping sauces: chipotle chili maple, bourbon molasses, and spicy sweet citrus. If Big Dogs isn’t the best barbecue you’ll ever eat, it certainly could be the most inventive. Public demand is motivating expansion of the dining room, the kitchen, and the addition of an outdoor deck. Go taste what the fuss is all about, and while you’re there, see if you can talk them into shortening the lanes.
Big Dogs BBQ at The Orleans Bowling Center
191 Route 6A, Orleans
Hours: Monday-Friday 4-10 pm, Saturday 11:30 am-10 pm