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T8ste Tizzzzz
*** 1/2
Out of a possible five
$

T8ste Tizzzzz (this), you won’t regret it

With such a ridiculous name, it was a place I reluctantly decided to try.

But three things T8ste Tizzzzz Bar-b-que owner Curtis Gregory said made me realize I made a good choice and was in for something special.

Gregory said he hailed from barbecue mecca Kansas City, drew inspiration from places there like the legendary Arthur Bryant’s and offered a Kansas City delicacy seldom (never in my case) seen in these parts – burnt ends.

The ends are the ends of beef brisket, which get slightly burnt during the 20 hours it spends in the 222-degree smoker of hickory and oak. The charred bark on the exterior of these chunks of tender beef creates an intense smoky flavor that is beautifully accentuated by Gregory’s homemade sauces. The mild is slightly sweet with no heat, the medium is downright hot, and the hot is crazy hot. A little medium drizzled over the mild is perfection.

The brisket and ends are what Gregory wants to highlight at his tiny shack, of sorts, just west of Bluffton Road on Lower Huntington Road, but his menu offers everything from pulled pork to smoked sausage to chicken wings. He makes most of his sides from scratch and offers some desserts that are so scrumptious they elicited moans of delight.

The best one was the Knock-u-naked Cake, a gooey, rich, heavy cobbler-meets-crisp concoction made with peaches or apples. The recipe – most all of them, actually – came from Gregory’s mom, Maylene, who was trying to find out who dug a big chunk out of the middle of it at a family gathering. She found the guilty party with evidence in his pocket, so a nephew suggested the bandit should face a strip search before leaving the next gathering.

I also cannot remember having a better coconut pound cake or sweet potato pie than the ones I had at T8ste Tizzzzz.

Next to the burnt ends, Gregory’s ribs, offered as short ends, large ends, tips or full slabs, were the best option. They were tender, a little smoky and perfectly cooked so the pork stayed juicy.

Other highlights:

•Pulled pork – had more smoke flavor than anything and was plenty moist.

•Barb-b-que beans were sweet, dark brown and full of chunks of smoked meat.

•Cheesy corn: yellow corn in a creamy cheese sauce was a nice sweet counterpoint to the spicy sauce.

•Dirty rice was brown and, indeed, dirty with kidney beans, peas and chunks of brisket.

•Collard greens were still toothsome, slightly sweet and nicely seasoned.

The only smoked item I did not care for was the turkey. It was thin slices of processed turkey meat that were more like cold meat and didn’t really absorb much smoky flavor.

As good as the burnt ends were, T8ste Tizzzzz’s brisket was not as impressive, but could have been. The tender, juicy meat had a nice, rich beef flavor, but it was also sliced too thin and would have been better had it been in thicker, meatier cuts.

I am sure Gregory or one of his helpers would cut it thicker if I asked next time, because the service was fantastic if just a bit deliberate. If he is running the show on his own and there are a lot of carry-out orders, you may have to wait a bit. But if he has help, it will come out fast and, if you dine in, they will come around and properly wait on you even though the tables in this tiny, mostly take-out place are literally two steps away from the counter.

Gregory and his folks were so happy and welcoming that I didn’t shy away from asking him about the crazy name. He said it is meant to be a folksy way of saying “taste this.”

And if he tells you to taste this, you probably should.

Restaurant: T8ste Tizzzzz

Address: 2801 Lower Huntington Road

Phone: 747-8499

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Cuisine: American

Handicapped accessible: No

Alcohol: None

Credit cards: Yes

Kid-friendly: Yes, but no menu

Menu: Burnt ends ($8.99), ribs ($19.99 slab; $10.99 short end; $9.99 large end; $7.99 tips), house special sandwich (1 meat, $4.99), beans or corn ($1.99), collard greens ($3.99), dirty rice ($2.99), dessert ($2.99)

Rating breakdown: Food: ** 1/2 (3-star maximum); atmosphere: 0 (1 maximum), service: * (1 maximum)

Note: Restaurants are categorized by price range: $ (less than $20 for three-course meal), $$ ($20-$29); $$$ ($30-$39), $$$$ ($40-$49), $$$$$ ($50 and up).

Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. This review is based on two unannounced visits. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. Email him at rduvall@jg.net, call at 461-8130. DuVall’s past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net, and you can hear Ryan from 3 to 4 p.m. every Thursday on 92.3 FM, The Fort.

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