More often than not, we find ourselves dining on some form of Asian food after softball on Mondays. It might very well be that we play at fields that are relatively close to Richmond and the fact that Boss Woman prefers sharing food. Since we were playing at Strathcona park this time around, I figured a visit to Devil's Elbow (in the old location of Chambar) would satisfied the "share" criteria as well as offering up something other than Chinese food. When I asked everyone if they wanted to dig into a plate of BBQ smoked meats, I didn't get any objections.
So we took the 3 minute drive on the viaduct over to Beatty Street (I guess we won't be doing that once they tear 'em down!). Although we had our hearts set on the BBQ platter, we decided to add a few items to supplement the meat fest. These included the Deep Fried Pickles which were coated with breading (thankfully, as the ones with batter never turn out right). Despite being on the darker side, the breading didn't taste too greasy. Rather, it was crunchy and spicy with the mildly salty tang of the crisp pickle. The side of spicy dill sour cream dip further amped the flavours.
We also got 2 items that were seemingly not destined for sharing in the Gumbo and Brisket Chili. However, it wasn't hard to do so as they were pretty large in portion size for appies. Personally, I much preferred the gumbo as it was thick and rich with plenty of ingredients including meaty andouille sausage, chicken and shrimp. I liked the rice underneath as it was the right texture (not being mushy) since there was enough moisture already. It was a bit spicy, but I would've liked to see a bit more flavour development (as in a darker and smokier roux). As for the chili, I found it to be spicy and tangy with a faint IPA finish, but little else as it didn't seem to have enough time on the stove. Flavours weren't developed and the veggies were too crunchy.
Moving away from the appetizer section, we decided to share the Chicken & Waffles which were presented in a very sharable fashion. Consisting of 4 house-made waffle sections topped with little nuggets of buttermilk fried Cajun chicken breast meat, it also came with a side of honey butter and mesquite smoked Maple syrup. Although crispy on the outside, I found the waffles to be a little dense and too pancakey. They were lightly sweet though where the addition of butter and syrup improved both texture and taste. On the same theme, it was interesting for us to share the Pulled Pork Waffle sandwich. We made it work, albeit messy. Again, the waffles could've been fluffier in our opinion, yet by the same token, it would've disintegrated otherwise. The pulled pork was fairly dry, yet smoky while dressed in a sweet bourbon BBQ sauce. The crunchy apple slaw and jalapenos added crunch, tang and spice.
Finally getting the main event, we shared the $60.00 Smoked BBQ Platter consisting of Stout-Infused Sausage, Pulled Pork, Brisket, Pork Ribs and 1/2 Chicken. We found the sausage to be the best item on the plate being meaty and mildly seasoned without any bitterness from the stout. The side of country gravy was a rich and creamy condiment for the sausage. I wasn't a huge fan of the chicken as it was pretty dry and chewy. It was smoky though and it was the end of the day, so we didn't expect juicy either. The ribs were meaty and tender with a bit of chew where the side of sweet and spicy BBQ sauce was decent as there was enough smokiness in the meat already. Both the brisket and pulled pork were also on the drier side, yet hardly chewy.
The platter included a choice of 4 sides. We ended up selecting Fries, Potato Salad, Mac n' Cheese and Mac n' Cheese Cornbread. Coated with starch, the fresh-cut fries were crispy and potatoey soft inside. These reminded me of Costco fries, but more starchy. The potato salad wasn't a salad per se, rather it was fried nugget potatoes tossed with sweet corn, bacon, sour cream and chives. It was more of a baked potato than a salad. We enjoyed it though. Surprisingly good, the mac n' cheese featured firm noodles tossed in a creamy, cheesy and slightly spicy sauce which prompted seconds. As such, the corn bread had the same elements as well as being sweet and a touch soggy as a result. The outside was nicely crispy though. After it was all said and done, we were stuffed, yet at the same time, we dusted off nearly every morsel (except for the dry chicken). In terms of overall enjoyment, we found the food hit and miss though.
- Fair pricing considering its location and amount of food
- Friendly service
- Nice space
- Sauces are on the sweeter side (not necessarily a negative, but just a personal preference)
- Meats were dry (yet smoked), so it wasn't bound to be super juicy, but possibly it was also due to being the end of the day