A new bbq joint opened up not too far from me, so you know I had to check it out. Plus, the place has my name stamped on it, so I had to find out if it was worthy to be a part of the Mike empire. I’m on the fence with this one folks. This place kinda left me confused, bewildered, and just a touch bamboozled.
Big Mike’s Smokehouse – In Ventura on Telephone Road near Saticoy
Apparently this location forces whoever occupies the building to call themselves “Big.”
What was once Big Al’s Mountain House is now Big Mike’s Smokehouse. The inside is pretty much how Big Al left it, dark wood paneling, a few booths and a few tables. It’s not one of those places you’d bring huge parties to, but they do cater, so you can always have it come to you. I was in a hurry so couldn’t really camp out for dinner. I ordered everything to go.
The help is very sweet and fairly knowledgeable. They seem to be able to help you make choices and they even gave me a sample of their garlic mash and their sweet mash. I ordered the bbq quesadilla with pulled pork and the tri tip sandwich.
The order actually came up pretty quick, instantly making me suspicious of its contents. Having been a carnivore for a while, I know it takes a bit of time to get tri tip and pulled pork up and ready.
The first thing you’re going to notice is that they are a bit on the expensive side. Their prices are hovering around and over Wood Ranch, which most of you know is a well established tri tip house around these parts. This means that Mike’s food needs to be, at the very least, at par.
I brought my order home and, lo and behold, there it was. They gave me a pulled pork sandwich instead of tri tip. I was crushed. I really wanted tri tip. I felt like a little boy on Christmas who just opened up a package of Hanes tighty whiteys with the wrong initials stitched into them because my aunt doesn’t know I wear boxers, or that my middle name is not Arnold.
Everyone is to blame on this one. The waitress for not checking or giving the order right, the cook for not paying attention or being illiterate, and even me for not checking the order before I left the place. For our purposes though, we have to blame them. Whenever you order food from somewhere it’s their job to verify your order and double check it, not yours.
I could be wrong all together. Maybe, just maybe, at Big Mikes ordering Tri Tip is the secret code for a pulled pork sandwich. If only I had my secret pork loin decoder ring.
I tried to get through the tears and the heartache and push on. The pulled pork quesadilla had great chunks of pork in it, that were very tender and cooked perfectly. The cheese was a bit much and almost killed it for me. There was a ton of cheese in it, so much more then it needed. Yeah, I know it’s a quesadilla, but even a cheesy tortilla has limits. The worst part of it was the outside of the tortilla. It was a bit hard, seeming almost stale. I had to rip away the outside of most of the pieces.
The garlic mashed potatoes are delicious. It’s a great recipe and has an awesome garlic flavor to it. It’s not too much, it’s right on target. The potatoes are thick and very fluffy. The mashed sweet potatoes are very sweet and would be a bit harder to take as a full serving. They are very good, but it’s almost like sweet potato pie filling. Maybe it has a bit too much brown sugar. As a small side serving though, it’s definitely a great addition to the meal.
The cornbread was a little disappointing. It was dry, crumbly and seemed almost as stale as the tortilla from the quesadilla. Plus the way they served it to me, it was all in little pieces. They either need to find a better storage process for their cornbread, or take a second look at who is baking it.
The next part was the hardest to review, because I really was counting on a tri tip sandwich. I’m trying to suck it up here, but I feel like I have been betrayed. I felt like I just caught a girlfriend with the cable guy and we don’t even have a TV. The bottom line is that their pulled pork is delicious. They have a great handle on it and it’s both tender and juicy. The bbq sauce is tangy and sweet and has a bit of a smokey flavor to it. It is kinda missing that mild bite that all bbq sauces need, but it was a decent sauce. However, it just wasn’t tri tip. Now I have to decide if I should go back or not. Obviously, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this place.
The help was great. The food is good, but needs work, and no matter what country you hail from pulled pork does not equal tri tip.