ROTTERDAM — No matter what looks good to you on the menu at Wagon Train BBQ, it might be too much food.
That’s the lesson my husband I learned one day when we somehow made it to lunchtime without eating breakfast, then decided to take our empty stomachs to Rotterdam in search of some good barbecue.
Wagon Train BBQ is hard to miss — you’ll know it by the abundance of wagons and horses arranged out front. Inside, the decor keeps with the theme, with one wall done in slate and the rest of the place very rustic, from the wood-burned art on the walls to the antlers on the ceiling holding lanterns for light fixtures.
On one wall is a display about the Graveyard Challenge: Finish the Graveyard Burger (a one-pound beef patty topped with a half-pound each of pulled pork, beef brisket, macaroni and cheese and coleslaw, plus two fried eggs, six pieces of bacon, 4 pieces of cheese, onion straws, deep-fried jalapeno slices and barbecue sauce on a hard roll), plus French fries and onion rings, in 30 minutes or less, and you get your name on the wall and a T-shirt.
That adds up to about five pounds of food, and only two people have finished it so far. Perhaps seeing that monstrous burger on the menu should have been a warning about the size of our order, but we didn’t take the hint.
Wagon Train BBQ
WHERE: 671 Mariaville Road, Rotterdam, 356-0650; wagontrainbbq.net
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday
HOW MUCH: $49.86
MORE INFO: Children’s menu available; all major credit cards accepted
After mulling over the menus, the rumbling of our stomachs making it hard to decide what we wanted, my husband got an order of Southwest egg rolls to take the edge off our hunger. He decided to follow that with the Tombstone Burger (topped with pulled pork, bacon, barbecue sauce, American cheese, a fried egg and coleslaw) and fries.
I went whole hog, or rather, whole farm, ordering a Cowboy Platter of pulled pork, brisket and a half-chicken, plus cornbread and a hard roll and a side of macaroni and cheese. I added on a smoked sausage link at my husband’s urging.
The Southwest egg rolls were crispy on the outside and spicy on the inside, served with a creamy, slightly spicy dipping sauce, a good starter to the meal. I couldn’t identify everything in the filling, though I noticed black beans, corn and little bits of tomato.
And then, the main dishes came. Now, you may think that it sounds like we ordered a lot of food. It turns out that we’d actually ordered a downright ridiculous amount of food. We were hungry, sure, but there was no way we were eating all of this.
I started by opening up the smoked sausage, which was tucked into a piece of foil. I cut off one piece and passed it to my husband, since he’d wanted it more than I did anyway, and anything I could do to lessen the amount of food on my plate was probably a good thing. The sausage was good, though; it tasted like a spicy bratwurst.
As for the rest of the meats, the brisket, sliced thin and laid across half of the hard roll, some of the best brisket I’ve had around here, with a nice smoke ring. The pulled pork was moist and juicy but not swimming in sauce; I could detect hints of citrus, meaning that it was probably cooked in the same citrus-chipotle barbecue sauce that sat in a bottle on our table, but the barbecue flavor was subtle enough that you could taste the pork. And the chicken . . . well, it was pretty much plain old chicken. With a bit of the sauces on the table (the citrus-chipotle and a more standard barbecue sauce), it was all right, but nothing special.
The macaroni and cheese on the side was bland and disappointing. The hard roll, which absorbed the juices from the brisket and pork nicely, was chewy and flavorful, though I left most of it uneaten to conserve stomach space. And the corn bread was cake-y and sweet, almost reminding me of pound cake; I didn’t mind it, but I know some people might.
My husband dug into the fries first, noting they were perfectly cooked, nice and crispy without being overdone. His burger was perfectly cooked to order (medium) and delicious. The toppings were all good as well, though a bit intimidating all piled together: This is definitely a knife-and-fork burger. The fried egg on top, which seems to be a trend in burgers these days, blended in nicely with the flavor of the beef.
And he really liked the coleslaw, though I found it awful — it had celery seed, which I don’t believe belongs in coleslaw, but some people do. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
Our meal, with tax and tip, came to $49.86, reasonable considering how incredibly stuffed we both were when we left. We could have ordered less, and next time, no matter how hungry we think we are, we surely will. Perhaps the big platters of barbecue are really a better idea if you share them.