Pitmaster Combo – December 26, 2017
T’was the day after Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except my tastebuds after eating lunch at this place with my aunt and cousin while on Christmas vacation in Florida.
With a few locations in the Orlando area, we ventured to the one in Winter Garden just north of Orlando. I kinda knew this place was going to be pretty legit as you could smell smoke and BBQ down the street. 4 Rivers Smokehouse offers a full spectrum of BBQ with traditional sides and even a few unique BBQ’d meats that aren’t too common like tri-tip and prime rib. For our lunch, the three of us decided to enjoy the Pitmaster Combo which features probably 1/3 LB of four meats, 2 sides, and some biscuits.
Our Pitmaster Combo featured beef brisket, pulled pork, sausage, tri-tip, mac n cheese, baked beans, and additional side of greens. The first look at the plate, well tray, of food is pretty much going to be “WOW! THAT’S A LOT OF FOOD!”. Sure we ordered an extra pint of the mac n cheese and an extra pint of the baked beans, but still…this was a lot of food for three people. The layout of the tray and the colors are consistent with most BBQ joints…predominant red colors, a few contrasting ones for some “pop” but the focus an emphasis is on the meat. For the most part you could see some smoke rings on all the meats. The sausage had the most visible amount of smoke but ironically didn’t have the most smoke flavor. More on that later on in this review…
I must give a shout out for the side dishes. All three sides were amazing and the baked beans and mac n cheese are definitely one of my favorite sides from a BBQ joint. The greens had the traditional texture and flavor you’d expect, but I think there was some apple cider vinegar or something vinegar based as a left hook type of tangy flavor hits you at the end. The baked beans were FIRE! With some pulled pork and BBQ sauce integrated into it, you get that smokey and sweet flavor added to the beans and it was awesome. The mac n cheese rivaled my absolute favorite mac n cheese made by my friend Krista back home. It was a traditional mac n cheese nothing super fancy or special added to it, but it was the absolute CREAMIEST mac n cheese I’ve ever had…especially from a BBQ restaurant. Every spoon full the cheese was just dripping over the spoon…that’s how creamy the cheese was!
If I had to rank the meats from my favorite to least favorite it’d go: Tri-tip, Sausage, Pulled Pork, & then Brisket. All the meats tasted good and nothing was bad.
I will admit this was my first time having smoked tri-tip. If you’re unfamiliar with what tri-tip is, it’s basically the bottom portion of the sirloin steak. Most sirloin steaks you get the store or restaurant are the top sirloin…the bottom sirloin or the tri-tip is commonly passed over because it is traditionally a much fattier cut of meat but to most pitmasters and BBQ’ers out there, fat = flavor and the smoked tri-tip didn’t disappoint. If you want tender, juicy, smokey meat…tri-tip is where it’s at. The medium rare doneness was spot on. Add a dash of salt and the traditional 4 Rivers Smokehouse BBQ sauce and you’ve got an amazing journey for your tastebuds.
The smoked sausage is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to cook and to eat. It’s a perfect picture of simple, flavorful, and quick! Simple because it’s ground up pork, mixed with an array of seasonings, and typically gets cooked in about 3-4 hours on a smoker. The smoked sausage at 4 Rivers Smokehouse was exactly what I expected it to be. Juicy, smokey, and flavorful and it fit that bill in every bite. A nice crust/casing on the outside too…sometimes sausages can have really rigid and tough to bite through casings or be really chewy casings, but 4 Rivers Smokehouse did it right.
The pulled pork was tasty and had a little bit of a smoke ring on some of the end pieces. It needed some sauce though if you didn’t have one of the end pieces as it was a little bit dry. The meat could’ve dried out because I was enjoying the tri-tip and the sausage first, but it was still good and tasted and felt like pulled pork. Some of the pieces I was able to do some additional pulling and it pulled really easily.
Brisket is a tough cut to cook right so it definitely has its fair share of challenges for every pitmaster out there. The smoke ring was solid and the taste of smoke was most evident in the brisket compared to the other meats.
If I had to choose some negatives about this platter it’d have to be the pulled pork was a little bit dry, the brisket was a little bit over done as the slices were thicker than expected, and the mac n cheese as creamy and delicious as it was would’ve been over the top if some jalapenos or green chiles were mixed in it for some zing or maybe some breadcrumbs on top for a texture change.
All in all…4 Rivers Smokehouse is an absolute MUST visit if you’re near one. They have other locations throughout Florida and recently opened a location in Atlanta, GA. Check out their website at http://www.4rsmokehouse.com for a full list of locations.
I almost forgot to write about this dessert known as the “Hello Dolly”. We call my aunt who lives in Florida “Dolly” so I had to get it. This brownie bite thing was phenomenal. With chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and coconut flakes it was a sweet end to a great lunch.