Remember how I mentioned I was looking for some great brisket in Jacksonville a few months back? Well, the arrival of Orlando-based 4 Rivers Smokehouse has answered my prayers.
The three locations in the Orlando area are known for their brisket and long lines–upwards of 15,000 pounds of meat are smoked and sold at the original location alone–so a lot of buzz surrounded the June opening of the new Baymeadows location. I was greeted with a 20 minute wait on my first lunchtime visit, which I’d say isn’t much worse than, say, the Town Center Chipotle. I decided to try the Burnt Ends sandwich (1/2 brisket, 1/2 pulled pork smoked in 4R sauce) with Smokehouse Corn and fried pickles, while Mario had the Texas Sausage Sandwich with sweet potato mash and mac & cheese:
I wasn’t a huge fan of the corn or mac & cheese, but I loved the salty fried pickles and Mario enjoyed his sweet potato mash. The burnt ends sandwich was tasty, but I thought the meat was chopped up too small. It made the sandwich feel more mushy than meaty. 4 Rivers’ house bbq sauce is fantastic (and they bottle and sell it) so it’s hard to complain about a sandwich doused in the stuff. Mario’s sausage sandwich was, indeed, Texas-sized (and quite good), and he was able to save half for later.
On my next visit, I finally wised up and tried the brisket:
The hype is well-deserved. The smoky brisket melts in your mouth–but I guess a fatty piece of meat tends to do that–and the seasoning rub (also available for purchase) is so, so good. I munched on the fried pickles again, and this time substituted in the bacon-wrapped jalapenos, which left me feeling a little more heartburn-y than satisfied :-/
One of the aspects of 4 Rivers I was most excited about: The Sweet Shop. A wide variety of cakes, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, mousses and more are made in-house every day and coolly beckon from both the main checkout register and the Sweet Shop’s bright corner.
However, I’ve been a little disappointed with my selections thus far. Cupcakes are large and look extremely appetizing, plus come in fun flavors (bourbon maple bacon, cookie dough, Mountain Dew & Doritos [?!]) but I’ve found the cake to be too dense and the frosting too thick (and I LOVE frosting). The cake slice I sampled was slightly better, and bites of a Reese’s mousse and chocolate brownie were both good.
Now that I know to go for the meat and choose wisely on sides and desserts (as it should be, really), 4 Rivers has quickly moved toward the top of my Jacksonville BBQ list. Now if only they were open later….