Monday, 26 October 2009

D&S SOUTHERN COMFORT BBQ ~ Carlsbad Springs (Ottawa Region)

I love the Internet. It is such a fountain of information, and I love to drink that knowledge up. It allows me to be a part of an online food community and find out where to go to get good chow. Being in Ottawa, I'm a part of Ottawa Foodies, where user member Ken V. reviewed a new BBQ joint just outside of Ottawa in Carlsbad Springs called D & S Southern Comfort BBQ. Without Ken's review, I would never have even heard of D&S, so last Friday LJ and I decided to check it out for ourselves.

D&S is at a 5-point intersection in the tiny community of Carlsbad Springs, a town which was founded in the 1800's as a spa/hotel destination, until the 1930's when polluted water ruined the business (thanks wikipedia).

True Southern BBQ is on the rise in Ontario, and D&S owner Dave Harper details his classic "Yours to Discover" province BBQ experience: briquettes & lighter fluid, eventually graduating to propane. But we are slowly learning what real BBQ is here, and Dave says on their website he thinks they might improved what our friends to the South created:

"In recent years I have had the opportunity to eat in a large number of southern BBQ joints where they do BBQ better than almost anyone, I spent a large portion of time studying their methods and equipment. I believe I have not only mastered their methods, but surpassed them to create the best BBQ in the world. "

Well, that's quite the bold statement, but even if he isn't lying, most Ontarians wouldn't know the difference. I have to admit, my experience is mighty limited. So I guess I just have to judge whether I like it or not on my own simple judgment - is it good?

D&S itself is a pretty massive building on its own, but then again, they are both a restaurant and a big catering business - they can cook up to 1000lbs of food at once! LJ & I both felt there was an identity crisis going on. From the outside, the structure looked like a big road house (that had recently had a make-over). Inside, the place is clean, new, and very very open. Tables are metallic, Ikea accessories and paintings on the wall, industrial carpet, and modern looking booths. There is a bar-dining room that seems to have a much more unified design concept that looks pretty nice. I was kind of hoping for the dingy road house, but you can never complain about an orderly/clean establishment.

When we arrived, the place was relatively busy, but the rows of empty tables in the very large room we were in accentuated the vastness and potential for capacity way out in the booneys. But by the time we were done our meal, I don't think there was a table in the house available. Lots of families (some taking up several tables arranged together) and older couples from their 30's to their 60's . Country music was the ambient choice.

Our waitress was Samantha (or Sam as she preferred to be called). She was young, but very friendly in an old-fashioned, classic hospitality way. She took our orders, answered questions, and in a short period of time brought us some complimentary buns. The buns were very hard on the outside, and not so soft in the inside. Luke warm, they were not the best buns I have ever been served, but LJ & I gobbled them up very quickly.

I had scanned the menu long before coming (thanks to the Internet) but even when I got there I still didn't know what I wanted to get. Wings were definitely on my radar (smoked, a unique choice not found much in these parts in a restaurant), but what about the ribs? They have 3 different types of ribs (beef, St. Louis pork, and pork back). Or smoked chicken? Or the chili? Or a burger? Too many things sound soo good! We overheard one woman remarking how the smoked chicken penne Alfredo was to die for.

One menu item I had debated getting was the Armadillo Eggs, and as it turned out, that's what LJ ordered for dinner. You get to choose 2 sides to go along with the 3 eggs.

First off, no this is not a real egg. Armadillo's don't even lay eggs, they are mammals (don't you forget that duck-billed platypus). No this brilliant treat is a hollowed out jalapeno pepper, stuffed with cheddar cheese, wrapped in sausage meat that is smoked and then brushed with BBQ sauce.

Wow. This was insanely good. The jalapeno had a bit of a bite, the sausage was flavourful and smokey and the BBQ sauce was an excellent saucy addition. I think if (and when I do) actually make these, I would use a spiced cream cheese over cheddar for more flavour, but this was good.

Then there was the cream corn bread. It was corn bread in some parchment paper and it was good. I love corn bread and this was light and corny.

The other side dish LJ chose were hush puppies. Another corn variant, these are deep fried balls of cornbread also had some jalapeno, making them just a bit spicy. Crispy outside, soft but dense inside, they went very well with the eggs.

When it came to me finally choosing, I was really torn. I wanted wings. I also wanted ribs. But hey, D&S knows people like to experiment, so they have the Kitchen Sampler: St. Louis Ribs, Pulled Pork sandwich, Onion Rings, and of course wings. They list it under starters, but this combo plate is really for one (one hungry person anyways).

The mini pulled pork sandwich is piled pretty high. The pulled pork was tender - melt in the mouth - with a sauce that was not overpowering allowing the flavour of the pork to come out. The menu says its a vinegar-based sauce, but it wasn't strong enough for my inexperienced palate to taste.

Two ribs came from cooking low and slow, with a slathering of BBQ sauce. The bark was crispy and flavourful and the meat was tender. The hint of hickory smoke, and the sauce (their Sweet and Smoky I believe) were just right. They weren't particularly big or meaty, but it was a nice sampling.

The onion rings were breaded and VERY crunchy. My personal preference is a battered ring, but these were big and tasty. They came with a chipotle mayonnaise dip which was very light on chipotle but went well with the rings.

Before I get to the wings, we finished the evening off with dessert. Everything sounded good, but LJ and I shared the Chocolate Triple Threat: "Chocolate hazelnut pot du creme, orange chocolate tart and a Bailey's truffle". We split the truffle first, which was rich and hinted of Baileys. The tart tasted like a Terry's chocolate orange, and the pot du creme tasted like a mousse (is that what pot du creme is?). Either way, it was a decadent and delicious end to the meal. But I did have wings before desert.

Obviously I didn't get a regular order of wings, and their menu doesn't describe how many actually come in an order (I should have asked Sam). But apparently they do come with veggies and ranch dip (that's right, not sour cream Ottawa).

The chicken wings come whole (wingette, drummette, tip) that are marinated, dusted, then smoked with Hickory and finally drizzeled with BBQ sauce. Two whole wings came in my Kitchen Sampler.

The wings were about a medium-large size (after I tore them apart). The skin was not particularly crispy (but again, I really think only deep-frying gives them a really crispy skin). The chicken tore apart easily, and the flavour of the smoke had permeated the wing, giving the meat a wonderful flavour.

The wings tasted good on their own - what ever their spice rub used was mild but good. But they also had a few drops of BBQ sauce. The menu says your choice of their three homemade sauces, but I think I received Sweet & Smokey as default. Why? Well, it was slightly sweet, slightly smokey. Almost a little too sweet for my liking, and anymore sauce on the wings and I wouldn't have enjoyed it.

FINAL SCORE: What a place. I was fortunate to get a lot of dishes sampled, yet there are many more I would love to try. I liked my wings, smoked is something I rarely get to sample, but it is not my wing-style of choice. The corn bread/hush puppies were tasty, the ribs/pulled pork also good, but my favourite sampling of the night was the armadillo eggs by far. Friendly service, good food, D&S's big crowds are definitely understandable. 6/10.

PS: I asked Sam what the D&S actually stood for. Owners names I had thought, but she said it stood for Down South and had no idea why there was an "&" in there.

D&S Southern Comfort BBQ
6501 Russell Road, Carlsbad Springs (Near Ottawa)


Chris said...

Sounds like one hell of a place, LOTW!

First of all, you nailed your thought on the armadillo eggs. Everyone I have made and every one that I have seen a recipe for, have had cream cheese or a cream cheese mix inside, not just cheddar. Good call on your part.

From the pictures, the pulled pork looks well executed. Pink smoke ring, a little bark, and pulled, not chopped.

And yes, fire roasted or smoked wings are awesome! Not better than hot wings. Not worse. Two different beasts. Two awesome beasts, like the liger :)

Teena in Toronto said...

I'm going to be spending a week in Ottawa next month ... I'll gain 100 pounds if I check out some of the places you've recommended :)

Toronto staging professionals said...

Hi. Thanks for the post, I'll probably go to Ottawa next month, so I can stop by and check it out. As a home stager I am quite interested in the place itself but if the food is as tasty as it looks in the pictures it will make me even more happy. So thank you for your tip.
Wishing all the best,

Lord of the Wings said...

Chris - I was totally thinking of you when I was at this place. Thanks for the back up on the cream cheese. Pulled pork was pull-tastic. And I agree - two different beasts. Awesome incorporating liger into the blog!

Teena - A week in O-Town - keep me appraised of where you go and what you have! Enjoy your time here in the capital :)

Sara - Thanks for stopping in! I'm sure you could offer them some decorating tips, but if your experience is anything like mine, the food will more than make up for it. Cheers!

Liz said...

I probably don't know you, nor you me, but I came across your blog, and your post about D&S Southern Comfort (I think it was linked from a post on Ottawa Foodies). I decided to give it a shot for brunch, and really enjoyed it! I'm hoping to go for dinner there soon, since it does look good.

Lord of the Wings said...

Liz - Thanks for stopping by from Ottawa Foodies. Glad to see that my review held up to your experience!!!