Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Ribs That Dreams Are Made Of

Dreamland Bar-B-Que
1427 14th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL

Bread. Ribs. Beer.

What else do you need?

Nothing. You’ve got to love Dreamland BBQ. My kind of place.

I’ve always considered Dreamland to be the perfect restaurant for anyone on a diet.

As long as it is a low carb diet.

Every other restaurant in America wants to tempt you with carb-loaded sides like corn bread, hush puppies, baked beans and biscuits.

Look, if you put it in front of me, and it’s good, I’m going to eat it.

But John “Big Daddy” Bishop, who founded Dreamland as a small cafe in the college town of Tuscaloosa in 1958 never wanted to mess with any of that.

Bread. Ribs. Beer. That’s all anyone needs.

And the bread – a couple slices of grocery-store bought Sunbeam white bread thrown on the plate – is so untempting, it really shouldn’t even count. No way I’m wasting precious stomach vacancy on that stuff.

Well, okay, maybe a few bites to lap up some of that famous tangy Dreamland sauce.

But it’s always been the meat alone that has been the star of the show at Dreamland.

Racks and racks of meaty spare ribs slowly smoke over the open pit imbuing the entire restaurant with the sweet smell of smoldering hickory and simmering pig meat.

If God has a BBQ pit (and I sure as he--, er heck, hope he does), this must be what heaven smells like.

If your idea of ribs is those “fall-off-the-bone” yuppified baby backs served at your neighborhood Chili’s, you need to get that out of your head right now.

It’s time to grow up and step up to the adults’ table at Dreamland.

Ribs here aren’t tough, but they do provide a nice meaty gnaw in every bite -- every bite full of smoky, meaty flavor that gets boiled away at your local strip mall chain restaurant.

Dreamland ribs are the real deal.

“Ain’t nothing like ‘em nowhere.” That was Big Daddy’s motto.

Unfortunately, Big Daddy Bishop passed away in 1997.

And no surprise, his family has begun to diversify the menu just a bit. Hopefully, Big Daddy isn’t rolling in his grave.

You can actually get beans, macaroni and cheese, greens and sausage now.

But you have to order them separate.

Since this was far from my first visit to Dreamland, I decided to get a little adventurous to see if the new menu additions could live up to Big Daddy’s high standards.

The smoked sausage was five star, all the way. Crisp charred on the outside, soft and spicy on the inside, and absolutely perfect when dipped in Dreamland’s BBQ sauce.

The macaroni and cheese was good too, tender noodles welded together by massive quantities of soft cheese.

I washed all this down with a couple IPAs from Atlanta’s Sweetwater microbrewery. I always enjoy the fruity-sweet flavor evident in all varieties of Sweetwater’s beer.

But no matter how many good things they add to the menu, it’s still the ribs that steal the show.

So I tend to agree with Big Daddy on this one. When you do something this well, there’s really no need to complicate it. Stick to what you do best.

Bread. Ribs. Beer.

Can’t go wrong with that.

Rating: Bought the Shirt!

Dreamland Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

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