#187: Back Forty Texas BBQ

This evening (well, late in the afternoon) I was joined by my grandma for an early dinner at Back Forty Texas BBQ.  This western-themed restaurant is located on Orlando Ave near Riverside and seems to be one of just three locations (2nd and 3rd being in Shingle Springs and Pleasant Hill).  Interestingly (or maybe not), this is the southern-most restaurant on my list so it’s kind of fitting that it’s Texas BBQ, I guess.  I feel like I’ve been past this place about a million times and this is the first time I have actually gone in.

It was just 4:30PM when we arrived.  The place seemed totally dead.  We waited in the entryway for about 2 minutes.  I could hear a few people in the dining room and I could see two cooks in the kitchen, which was right behind the front desk/registers.  I was thrown off by the dual registers and large, full menu that was on the wall behind them.  I had thought that this was a full service restaurant, but this had me questioning it.  A woman emerged from the back and took us to a booth in the left dining room.  Another dining room (above) is off to the right and was empty and somewhat dark.  The room we were taken into actually had more diners than I expected.  There were about 4 or 5 tables seated, all booths around the walls.  A couple of 8-seater tables with big wooden chairs dominated the middle of this section.  A mix of country and blues-rock played at a volume slightly higher than you’d expect.

We were left to explore the menu for a while.  It was probably about 5-6 minutes before our server came by to take our drink orders, and by then we were actually ready to order.  Both of us immediately noticed the Early Bird Special on a 1/3 sized page in the middle of the menu which seemed like a good deal – Choice of meat (there were about 5 or so to choose from, and I know there was beef brisket, chicken strips and pork ribs, there was probably also BBQ chicken and I can’t remember the rest), choice of 2 items off The Fixin’s List (Tossed House Salad, Caesar Salad, Homemake Soup(s) [Baked Potat0 or Vegetable soup], BBQ Beans, Creamy Potato Salad, Granny Smith Apple Coleslaw, White Cheddar Mac ‘n Cheese, Fried Okra, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Spicy Onion Rings, Tater Barrels, Texas Wedge Cut Fries, Sweet Potato Chips, Fresh Steamed Vegetables) and a choice of Cornbread with Honey-Butter, Banana Loaf or a Fresh Baked Mini-Loaf.  All that was $9.99 and is served from 3-6 which we were smack in the middle of.  Happy Hour drinks were in effect too so I got a 12oz (might have been 14oz) Shock Top for $3 (which in hindsight wasn’t that great a deal, 12oz isn’t much, 14oz so-so).

Anyway, we ordered away, my grandma looking for advice on choosing between the chicken strips and the pork ribs.  The server gave a very honest opinion, along the lines of chicken strips are chicken strips, and recommended the ribs.  She went with those , picked the veggies, coleslaw and cornbread.  I went with the beef brisket (choice of lean or juicy, I went juicy) with a house salad, white cheddar mac ‘n cheese and cornbread.  Another employee must have overheard the very beginning of our order with the drinks because right as our server was finishing up they brought a water and my Shock Top out.  She asked if I wanted a lemon for it but I passed.  We were left with our drinks for a few minutes before she came back with my salad and the two cornbreads.  My salad came with the requested blue cheese which actually had some chunks in it.  The salad itself was your typical house salad.  Nothing too exciting, everything was nice and fresh though.

The cornbread was a good-sized piece for one person.  Slicing into it revealed a couple whole kernels of corn.  Taste-wise I thought this was ok.  The honey-butter was good.  The cornbread was really dry though.  It was dry enough that once I had exhausted the little cup of honey-butter I did not want any more.  Our food came rather quickly.  I was just finishing up my last bite of cornbread when it showed up (about 7 minutes after the bread and salad had arrived).

It may simply be because we ordered the early bird special but I was a slightly disappointed in the portion size (all said and done I left full, though I had a big lunch earlier that contributed to that).  Her plate had three pork ribs, mine had about four strips of brisket.  My brisket looked very “juicy” and tender like it should fall apart as soon as I touched my fork to it.  Turned out I needed to do a bit of slicing with my knife to get some bite-sized pieces.  The BBQ sauce was served on the side, so I first tried a bite plain.  It didn’t have a ton of flavor and was slightly on the dry side.  I went ahead and added a small amount of sauce across all the brisket.  That made a huge difference.  The sweet BBQ sauce was pretty rich and intense in flavor, and it added that last bit of needed moisture.  I’ve had brisket a few times and most of the time it’s been pretty amazing, even without sauce.  In comparison this was kind of a let down.  It was ok at best.

The white cheddar mac ‘n cheese had arrived looking like it had sat in the little dish for a while and had developed a dull surface appearance, like it had a skin.  I mixed it up to reveal the cheese-sauce.  The noodles were quite soft and the cheese had a texture that coated your mouth and was very creamy.  It was a very, very mild cheddar, I would have preferred something much sharper.  My grandma seemed happy with her pork ribs and sides.  I did taste the apple coleslaw and it was pretty good.

I have to wonder if the time we went and the early bird special was a contributing factor to the quality, like it’s a method they use to clear out any remaining BBQ from lunch.  It seems like they have the capability of making pretty good food here, and the fact that it seems to have been here forever proves that people keep going back.  Perhaps I will return someday, but based on this experience on it’s own, I might visit Dickey’s BBQ Pit first (OK who am I kidding, I’ll drive right out of Roseville and go to Lucille’s Smokehouse in Rocklin if I really want some good BBQ).  One weird thing I wanted to mention is that in-between songs at one point there was an advertisement for Back Forty catering service.  That seemed really strange to me.

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#186: Legends Sports Bar & Grill

Today I headed out to Legends Sports Bar and Grill, located at the Woodcreek Golf Course, for lunch.  Similarly to Timbers at the Timber Creek course, I had never been here before.  I pulled into the very busy parking lot at 11AM sharp.  This course didn’t seem to have nearly as big a complex as Timber Creek, but I ended up taking the long route anyway since I had no idea where Legends was located.  It didn’t take too long to find it, opposite the pro shop and just before the golf course itself opened up in front of you.  The weather was extremely nice and there were a ton of people out there taking advantages of it.

I took the right turn into Legends, which was fairly quiet in comparison.  Just inside the door I was standing in the bar area.  It’s a big rectangular room with big windows looking out onto the course and the bar is on the opposite wall.  Directly forward and through a big open doorway was the main dining room.  I kind of wandered up to the doorway and peeked inside then came back to the bar, not sure if I needed to wait to be seated or not.  After a moment I noticed a menu on the wall in the other room through an opening in the wall on the other side of the bar.  I walked into the dining room and found a whole counter with registers, and soon an employee greeted me and asked if I had been helped.  OK, now I had a better idea of what this place was.

Earlier I had checked out their menu online and saw a seasonal section with a burger that sounded interesting, the Crunch Burger (1/2lb burger grilled with American cheese and topped with crunchy house chips, red onions, Creolaise, lettuce tomato and chipotle ketchup on the side, served with sweet potato fries) [$10.95].  The whole chips thing sounded interesting, but when I looked up Creolaise to see what it was, which I found was creole mustard added to hollandaise, I was sold.  Unfortunately I did not see any sign of this seasonal menu.  I asked about it but the she didn’t seem to know what I was talking about so I gave up on it and looked up to their blackboard-type menus to pick out a new burger.  Eventually I asked what was on the California burger, aside from avocado I assumed.  She listed off Pepperjack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and onions, the basics pretty much.  I decided to get that.  She then rattled off an insanely long list of side choices.  If you can imagine it as a side it was probably in this list.  Seriously, she must have said over 15 things.  I chose the cup of chowder.  Finally I got a large Hefeweizen to finish the order.  My burger was $11.95, the chowder was a $1 add and the beer made up the rest of the bill which came out to just over $20.  Kind of pricey for lunch.

I took a seat in the pretty empty dining room.  Like the bar, the wall opposite the kitchen was all windows and gave a nice view of the course.  Several good sized TVs placed on all four walls were showing the Olympics.  The furthest wall had a few comfy looking seats.  Later, when a couple came in to ask about reserving a room for a party, I found out that this wall folds up and the room and be doubled in size for wedding receptions or other events.  A couple minutes after sitting down the person that rung me up brought my beer out to me.  I didn’t really look at the taps at the bar in the other room when I passed through so I don’t know what brand this was, but it was nice, crisp and refreshing.  For the next 7 minutes I sipped my beer and watched the golfers getting ready to head out on the course until my burger came.

It was a towering hulk of a burger.  As she set it down, she said she forgot it had bacon on it too.  Sounded good to me!  I noticed the long toothpick, that was barely sticking out out the top of the bun, and removed it before starting to eat.  I took it apart just a bit to make sure the avocado wasn’t on the verge of falling out and noticed that it was neatly arranged just underneath the top bun.  There was a metric ton of lettuce and tomato so I ended up removing about 2/3rds of both.  The tomatoes were very ripe and the lettuce very crisp, same with the red onions, which there was a perfect amount of.  After I put it back together I started with the chowder, which was very good.  It didn’t look as creamy as most chowders, but looks can be deceiving, because it certainly was.  It also had some bacon chunks in it which added to the already fairly rich flavor.

When I had ordered she asked how I wanted the burger cooked and listed off all the usual levels of doneness starting with rare.  I asked for it medium rare.  When I started into the burger a few minutes after it arrived I was surprised by how hot the patty was.  It was much hotter than any burger I have ever had, enough to make me think for a second if I should let it cool down or risk a burnt tongue (I risked it).  The produce was all quite cold which made for a very interesting contrast in each bite.  While I found my burger was done a bit more than I was hoping for with medium rare, it was just fine.  It was fairly flavorful (though not as much as one at Bunz Sports Pub).  The bacon was delicious and perfectly crispy/crunchy.  I loved every bite of it.

I was surprised quite a bit by Legends.  After my disappointing Timbers visit I didn’t have very high hopes for this place but it proved me wrong.  Aside from the missing seasonal menu, the only thing I would knock this place for was the cost, which felt a bit high.  The service was good and friendly.  I don’t find myself over on this side of Roseville too often but I could totally see coming back here again if I did.

#185: Placer Pizza Co.

Tonight I headed out to the Foothills & Junction area where, tucked back in the corner of the Savemart shopping center, you’ll find Placer Pizza Company.  I was just thinking recently how surprised I was at the number of pizza places Roseville has (13 non-chain places, 15 if you count a couple that I went to early on and have since closed).  I’ve had a lot of pizza for this blog, and I still have one more place to go to after this one (actually make that two more with a new one opening in Spring).  There was even a Papa Murphy’s staring back at me through the window, across the parking lot, as I sat and ate pizza tonight.  Crazy, people must really love pizza more than I had thought for so many to survive together.  But I digress…

This pizza place  opened about 8 months ago.  I vaguely remember seeing it under construction a long time ago, and I obviously forgot about it completely.  A reader reminded me of it just recently.  I headed in at about 5:15PM, well before the dinner crowd.  It was quiet inside and I was the sole customer.  I had barely gotten my bearings and was just starting to glance at the menu when I was greeted by one of the owners (I am assuming she and her husband are the owners).  I said I’d need a couple minutes to look over everything.  She waited patiently while I skimmed over the menus, at some point asking if this was my first time in and then offering to answer any questions.  They have a menu up high on the wall and also down at a weird, almost waist level.  I went back and forth more than a couple times before settling on leaning in to get a good look at the lower one.  It didn’t take me long to find one of their creamy garlic sauce pizzas, the Placer Garlic Supreme (pepperoni, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, green onions and fresh garlic with creamy garlic sauce).  I figured I would do a medium with half that and half something else so I kept looking.  The Chicken Combo Delight piqued my interest (grilled chicken breast, bacon, tomatoes, red onions and green onions with sweet chili sauce).  I had to stop and consider the sweet chili sauce for a moment.  I love most white sauces, red tomato sauces are hit or miss for me, pesto I can take or leave.  This is one I rarely encounter, and I was wondering if it was anything like Round Table’s Polynesian sauce, which not even all RTP’s even have.  I decided to chance it.

I asked what kind of crust they had since I didn’t see anything about it on the menu.  She said they have a skinny crust, which is very thin, and then their thicker normal crust.  In addition, they have a gluten-free crust option for a couple bucks more on medium and large sized pizzas.  Once I got my pizza order in, I turned to look at their beers.  They have 5 or 6 on tap with the majority coming from local breweries.  Auburn Alehouse and Loomis Basin were represented, along with a third that I can’t recall.  Bud (or was it Coors?) Light completes the list and is the only big name beer they have.  I ordered a Loomis Basin Wheat.  Paid up, I took a little table number thing to a booth, came back up to grab my beer after she poured it, then took a seat.  The seating is mostly booths all along the wall.  There is also a nice looking counter with lots of stools that give you a good view of the pizza make-tables and ovens.  When the weather is nice, they have a very nice sized patio where you could sit and the owner told me that, starting back up in the Spring, they will have live bands out there on Friday nights.

I don’t think I’ve ever had any beer from Loomis Basin before.  I’ve only ever seen it at the Lincoln Beach Hut, which exclusively carries local beer.  This wheat was very light and crisp, perfectly refreshing to pair with pizza.  I did not get a lemon slice but it really didn’t need it.  A few minutes after sitting down the owner came by to ask if I’d like to try out some new bread that they are testing for their garlic bread and sandwiches.  Soon I had a basket of cheesy garlic bread in front of me.  The bread was a ciabatta bun and there was plenty of garlic goodness on it topped with a whole lot of cheese.  The bread itself was good, nice and light, which I think is important for an appetizer, and also works well with a sandwich.  I hope they keep those.

Total time for my pizza to be made and brought out was about 15 minutes.  The woman that delivered it to my table left and quickly returned with parmesan and red peppers.  I was off!  The crust on this pizza was nice and thin, probably amongst the thinner ones I’ve had so far in Roseville.  The bottom was nice and crisp and nearly held it’s own against the weight of the toppings, though I had to give it a little support.    It looked to be a well made pie and had good amounts of toppings that were very nicely distributed, with no heavy or bare areas.  I started with the Placer Garlic Supreme.  This side was intense.  I couldn’t tell if it was the pepperoni, sausage or both.  Either way, hugely flavorful.  To be honest I didn’t even really notice the onions, mushrooms or tomatoes that much because of that.  One thing I did notice, however, was that this was a pretty greasy pizza.  The few napkins I used were just about clear by the time I was done with them.  The Chicken Combo Delight was up next.  This side had lots of big, tender and juicy chunks of chicken on it.  Lots.  This one was considerably more mellow in flavor overall.  Each ingredient was able to shine a little bit on it’s own, which was nice.  The star was the sweet chili sauce.  It’s pretty much the same as the Polynesian sauce from RTP I mentioned earlier, and the name here is a perfect description of it.  It was sweet and had just a bit of chili heat and flavor to it.  I didn’t realize how much I missed that sauce until this.  It’s delicious and I highly recommend it if you’ve never had it.

I think more surprising than how many pizza places we have is how good most of them actually are.  This one is definitely up there.  It was fantastic and the service was very good.  I feel like I might already be spoiled by Trademark Pizza Co’s pricing, since the price felt pretty high here [$16.99 for my medium specialty], but it’s pretty much on par with most pizza places, perhaps a little higher than most.  It’s a solid pizza and had what felt like fresh, quality and flavorful toppings on it, so it’s justified in a way.  I think it would be a great place to come and hang out on the patio, enjoy a pizza and listen to a live band now and then.

Website: http://www.placerpizzacompany.com