Are you ready for this? I am about to give you some potentially bad, yet oh-so-delicious advice. Here it comes…
That’s right. I guess if one were being honest, this is not really my advice, but in fact the advice at 4 Rivers Smokehouse, here in Orlando [yes, my first Orlando post. Yay!]. Although before we get to that, let’s start at the very beginning.
So I just moved to Orlando about a month ago. I have had some terrifically mediocre food (I’m talking about you, TGIF’s), some bad food (the burgers at Steak n Shake), and, completely taking me by surprise, some very yummy food. This last has mostly been in the form of barbeque (“BBQ”). The first week I was here, my uncle and I went for a post-orientation dinner to Bubbalou’s Bodacious BBQ Shack. Yes, that is genuinely what it is called. I bought the T-shirt to prove it. I had a great pulled pork-sandwich; he had ribs that he said were fantastic.
Then school started and I got all caught up. I’m trying to have all the quintessential American experiences (hence why I’ve already invited myself over to a friend’s house for American Thanksgiving), so on Labour Day I toddled on over to while away the day by my friend’s pool. Lo and behold, we (I) got hungry, and so we made a quick(ish) trip to 4 Rivers, a semi-famous local BBQ joint. I made sure to photog lots to capture everything:
There was quite a long line, but they had a fan with a mister outside, so it wasn’t too bad. And most of the sides are served cafeteria-style, so they’re pretty speedy, which is great. Also means that the food is fresh, because they must go through a ton of it! There is a small dessert case at the front, which I thought was it until I saw the mini in-house bakery around the side…dangerous.
I decided to go all-in and ordered the TEXAS DESTROYER: a brisket sandwich with onion rings, jalapenos, and sauce. Being that I’m Canadian, when I see a sandwich called TEXAS DESTROYER, my first though is that this sandwich is going to be as big as my head [and yet I still ordered it…]. However, not so. My only disappointment in this sandwich was its size, shockingly enough: it was the size of a regular sandwich! It destroyed no one! It was damn good though. Not too spicy, not too sweet, just the right amount of meat. Win.
For my sides I chose fried okra, because I love okra and always have, ever since my Mom told me they were little barrels, as well as the cornbread salad, because I had to get something healthy.
The okra were pretty good, if a bit bland: I don’t think this had anything to do with 4 Rivers, just the fact that fried food can sometimes be bland. But some of their signature sauce spiced them up fine. I actually really enjoyed the cornbread salad, despite there not being too much healthy-ness about it; cornbread itself was great, even sans salad! I know this as my friend got just the cornbread and we gobbled it all up.
My friend also got the Smokehouse Prime Rib sandwich with extra horseradish; she generally prefers Bubbalou’s but said that this sandwich might make her change her mind. The mac n’ cheese she got as her second side was okay; the pasta was a bit too soft for me, and I think it would have really benefited from a crunchy Ripple-chip topping (in for a penny, right?).
Finally, after all that eating, I decided I really needed something sweet. So on to the bakery we went.
Yes, my head kind of exploded after seeing all of these treats. I chose a “basic” double chocolate chunk cookie, and here the size did NOT disappoint: I had to eat this cookie in small increments over the next few days, but man was it worth it: fudgey cookie bits with marshmallow bits and nuts and crunchy cookie ends. The best! They give me a run for my money :) [I have a picture of the cookie but because of the lighting it bears shocking resemblance to something else, so I will not post it here].
Basically, this is my verdict:
Food quality and taste were great. The size of the orders (although not the sides) were smaller than I expected, and if you’re a big eater you may notice this. However, to be honest, it is easy to see how smaller portions=better quality, and I’m all for that. Besides, who needs to encourage larger portion sizes?? In general, I found it decent value for money, considering the obvious care and quality of the food: my TEXAS DESTROYER was $8 and you can add 2 sides for $2. Other sandwiches range from $7-9, and ribs are $13 for a half-rack. I also liked the restaurant itself: the sitting area was large, there were lots of tables and benches, and the room had an airy, welcoming feel. The servers were very helpful, and also friendly! I LOVE the fact that they have their in-house bakery, the ‘sweet shop’. Such a great idea. Kind of jealous it wasn’t my idea. There are lots of desserts to buy, as well as cakes and things; their sauces and rubs for BBQ are also available to purchase. And, they have lots of old-timey drinks and things available, like birch soda. All in all, I say mad props. I enjoyed. I’ll be going back. Especially since they gave me a free magnet :)
Stay delicious folks ;)