Flame Tree Barbecue recently underwent a refurbishment and extended the overhang to keep hungry guests waiting in line in the shade. Matt and I decided to stop by since it’s been a little over a year since our last visit. He also hasn’t had their ribs in several years (although I have), and since he got a smoker for Christmas, he’s learned a lot about the smoking process and makes some darn good ribs at home.
A look at the menu:
Matt ordered the 1/2 Slab of St. Loius Ribs, which comes with “Our delicious Ribs, Smoked In-house, and topped with our Trademark Barbecue Sauce. They are accompanied by our special-recipe, slowly Baked Beans and delicious Jalapeno Cornbread.”
As you can see there is a bit of a smoke ring to the meat. The ribs that were placed on top were tougher than those one the bottom, so consistency isn’t a strong suit here. Neither were what would be considered “fall-off-the-bone,” which is how some prefer their ribs to be. These had a definite bite, and Matt thinks part of that was because the silverskin wasn’t removed. Flavor-wise, they were okay, but fell short on texture.
We were concerned that the Jalapeno Cornbread might be dry, but it was far from it. It had a bit of heat, but Matt really wasn’t too concerned with eating it without butter.
The Baked Beans fell a bit flat for him as well. We’ve both had them in the past, and I, who doesn’t like Baked Beans at all, found these pretty good, with bits of pulled pork interspersed throughout. Matt noted they were just lacking somewhere with the flavor this time around.
I had to go with the Watermelon Salad, which features Feta, Arugula, Pickled Red Onion, and a White Balsamic Vinaigrette. I was really hoping this would be like Florida Fresh’s version from the Flower & Garden Festival, which features Pickled Onions, B&W Farms Baby Arugula, Feta, and a Balsamic Reduction. Flame Tree’s salad was indeed very good, and very refreshing on a hot summer day. There is some room for improvement, though.
The pickled onions could have used a bit more pickling. They were pickled enough to remove some of their bite, enhance their sweetness, and retain some crunch, but by comparison, I preferred Flower & Garden’s. I also felt the Arugula was a bit heavily dressed, and a Balsamic Reduction would have fared better than the White Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Also note that there was a lot more feta than you see in the photos. Most of it had settled to the bottom of the plate. There was a decent amount for that hit of protein. So while there were some things I would change with this salad, I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again, and I hope it lasts.
I’m a big fan of Flame Tree’s Onion Rings, so I had to ruin what could have been a healthier lunch with an order. Matt gladly helped me eat them, though. The onions were nicely cooked though, and the batter was crispy. I like to dip them in Flame Tree’s Sweet & Spicy Barbecue Sauce, which can be found at the condiment stations near the seating.
When it comes to beer, Bud Light is far from our first choice, and neither of us were really in the mood for the heavier Safari Amber. So, for 25 cents more than the latter, we each opted for the Mandarin Orange Vodka Lemonade. I’ve ordered the non-alcoholic version of this in the past, and I was a fan. This vodka-laced version was far less remarkable, with barely a hint of Mandarin, and it was hard to tell there even was vodka in the drink. I wouldn’t go out of my way for it, but if I’m not feeling like a Safari Amber, I’d probably opt for this instead.
Overall, Matt wasn’t impressed by his meal, and I would say that the highlight for him was the Onion Rings. I’d recommend their 1/2 Chicken over the Ribs. The Watermelon Salad is a nice change of pace for the restaurant, and I’d certainly order it again. The Mandarin Orange Vodka Lemonade isn’t a must do, but if you’re looking for a cocktail when you don’t want a a heavier beer, it fits the bill.
What’s your favorite dish from Flame Tree Barbecue? Is it a must-visit when you go to Animal Kingdom?