BRANTINGHAM — The last time I was in Brantingham I was going 50 mph on a snowmobile down a frozen lake.
Last week I was going 40 mph in a fancy SUV down winding Lewis County roads trying to find the Trailside Restaurant & Bar.
Picture this: five guys stuffed into this oversized sedan, all with cellphones in hand set in GPS mode for 5771 Partridgeville Road. One guy yells, “I think we just passed it.” Another says, “It’s another 4.2 miles down the road.” The full-color in-dash GPS isn’t helping much either.
Amid it all, synthesized monotone voices coming from our cellphones and the car dashboard are adding to the confusion.
As I was about to suggest we stop and get directions, the Trailside appeared.
Partridgeville Road, with its twists and turns and surrounding woods, made the rustic-looking exterior of the restaurant seem appropriate. The inside was brightly lit and impressively clean.
The bar took up a good portion of the restaurant. The seating area was outfitted with basic but functional restaurant supply tables and chairs. It was exactly what we anticipated.
With only one bartender on duty and only two tables occupied, we seated ourselves, anticipating some good drinks and good food. The Trailside’s website is informative, so we knew in advance that it specializes in Memphis-style barbecue, slow-roasted with a wet or dry rub. With the smoker just outside our window, we were ready.
The bartender, Sebastian, was also our waiter. He arrived at our table with menus, took our drink orders and returned quickly with drinks in hand. He was friendly and knowledgeable, answered our questions with enthusiasm and described how the owner researched barbecue and actually went to Colorado to get his smoker.
Time to order.
Appetizers were pretty much standard frozen fare with the exception of smoked pulled-pork sliders. We decided to save barbecue for our main course and get started with wings.
The Trailside offers boneless and bone-in chicken wings, 10 for $8.99.
The traditional wings were cooked perfectly, with a good degree of crispness. We took a stab at the sweet and spicy plum sauce — it was really good! We also had the breaded boneless wings (really just chicken tenders in a different shape) dunked in house-made Jack Daniels sauce. Both were good, but our favorite was the regular wings.
We ordered a taco salad ($8.99), a crispy, 10-inch deep-fried tortilla shell filled with seasoned beef, iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, black olives, red onions and shredded cheddar, a little heavy on the lettuce, as it turned out. It looked quite impressive as Sebastian set it down on the table. We attacked it with our forks, and it proved to be enough for the five of us to each enjoy a good bit of it. Salsa and sour cream were served on the side.
Pulled pork is the benchmark of good barbecue. The smoked pulled-pork sandwich ($9.99) was excellent, served with a dollop of coleslaw and side of barbecue beans. The shredded pork was ample, the barbecue sauce mild with a gentle kick.
The coleslaw was a tasty addition, served right on top of the pork on a lightly toasted bun. The beans were delicious, slightly sweet with a hint of smoke with traces of bacon. The plastic cup they came in was just too small, we decided.
The Cuban ($8.99) is one of their specialty sandwiches, another winner that included smoked pork, sliced ham, pickles and Swiss cheese on a toasted roll. This was one tasty sandwich, the smoked pork making it extra special.
Smoked Italian sausage on a grilled hoagie roll ($9.99) wasn’t that impressive, especially compared to the first two sandwiches we sampled. I guess smoking something that was already spiced up, then putting grilled peppers and onions and barbecue sauce on top of the sausage was just flavor overload.
Smoked beef brisket sandwich ($10.99) was outstanding, some of the best brisket we’ve had in a long time. The meat was moist and tender, the smoking process evident with the signature red ring around the outside layer of the meat.
The grilled roll had a good, firm exterior that could handle the meat and an interior that was able to soak up excess juice and great barbecue sauce.
Here’s the kicker: The brisket is cooked and smoked and brought in from Texas! Sebastian told us that the Trailside’s smokemaster insists that “no one does brisket like Texas does brisket.” We’re with him on that one.
We tried one of the half-pound “gourmet steak burgers,” with Swiss, onions and mushrooms ($9.99). Even with the “stuff” on top, it paled in comparison to the totally flavorful smoked meat sandwiches that dominated the table.
For dessert, there was cheesecake, carrot cake and chocolate cake from one of their restaurant suppliers. Sebastian told us that the “chocolate chip cookie bake” ($4.99) was really neat and made right there, so we ordered one. Make that two.
A giant chocolate chip cookie was presented warmed in its own 5-inch cast-iron skillet and topped with vanilla ice cream and whipped topping. Wow! Absolutely delicious … and addicting.
Food for five guys roaming around the countryside on a crisp fall evening came to $93.63 before drinks and tip.
Sebastian was a great guy with good sense of humor who had fun with us, as we did with him.
The food was substantial, filling and tasty. It’s obvious that the owner is serious about his barbecue and committed to giving his customers something extra-special in this off-the-beaten-path location.
Pretty soon hunters and snowmobilers will be making their way to the Trailside. This place is going to be slammed in the wintertime. If you don’t hunt or snowmobile, now is the time to hop in the car and experience the Trailside Restaurant & Bar. You might want to bring a good, old-fashioned map along.
The Trailside is open seven days a week. On Friday and Saturday they add a dinner menu and serve bar food until 11 p.m.
Last week’s review of Freestyle Cuisine in Lake Placid contained an error, due to incorrect information provided by several sources. Richard Brosseau is not the owner. The owners are Nikolay and Victoria Wilen.
You can contact restaurant reviewer Walter Siebel via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trailside Restaurant & Bar
5771 Partridgeville Road
A friendly backwoods restaurant and bar specializing in smoked meats
KITCHEN HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday
11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Noon to 7 p.m. Sunday
Bar open later with munchies menu
OUR PICKS: Wings with sweet and spicy plum sauce, pulled pork sandwich, Cuban sandwich with smoked pork, brisket sandwich, chocolate chip cookie bake