Note: Bar-B-Que & Seafood Unlimited was sold and re-opened under the name Perry's Food for the Soul
So a new BBQ place, Bar-B-Que & Seafood Unlimited, opened in this culinary Mecca, San Leandro. In most parts of the world this would not be terribly exciting, but giving the dearth of restaurants here we were excited though cautious. We got dinner there last night (Sep. 01); it was OK but not good enough to make us want to go back.
The place does not look like the other bbq joints we frequent (E&J's, Flints, Old South BBQ), it had no grittiness, no smell of smoke permeating everything, in other words, no character. It looks very sterile with their stainless steel surfaces and spacious kitchen. This sterile feeling also permeated the food. The Oklahoma Smoked Ribs ($9.25 for a regular order) was basically a slab of short ribs that was cut into orderly separate ribs and then sauced. It might seem weird but I like the messiness of ribs being mixed up and coming in all different directions. The same technique was used with the hot links ($3 for one sausage, $5.50 for two). They were just sliced and then placed in the box in the shape of the sausage. The BBQ Chicken ($4.75 for half, $7.75 for whole) was also very nicely arranged in the box. Too boring.
Of course presentation wouldn't have matter much if the BBQ had been really good. It wasn't. The sauce was pretty tasty but I felt it really needed a bit more character. It was also a tad too runny. They did not offer us a choice of sauces, and the one they served was what we would call "mild". In all it was better than store bought sauces (though I really like the new Jack Daniels sauces), but nowhere as good as the sauces at our favorite joints.
The meats themselves also left much to be desired. The ribs were pretty non-distinct, without the sauce they'd have been tasteless. They showed no hint of smoke or anything else. The chicken was OK, though a tad dry. The links, however, really sucked. I don't know if this makes any sense, but they tasted too "young" (are sausages aged?), too raw and smooth (literally). I would compare them with a Hickory Farm sausage, but really, the HF stuff is better.
I daresay that the problems with the food have to do with how it's cooked. Now, I didn't pay attention to how exactly they cooked it - but I didn't see any large ovens full of fire as those at E&J's. More importantly, I didn't smell anything either outside or in the store. I imagine that this means they are using less polluting cooking methods (gas or electric ovens?), better for the environment but worse for the taste.
In conclusion, we would have loved to have a great BBQ place a few blocks from home. Alas, this is not it, so we'll continue making the trek to E&J's in Hayward. It's probably a blessing in disguise, however, as BBQ tastes great but is not very good for us :)
Bar-B-Que & Seafood Unlimited
185 Pelton Center Way