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The quality ’cue at Pig Floyd’s will make you wish you were here 

Urban Barbakoa steps up as the alternative 4 Rivers Smokehouse


1326 N. Mills. Ave. | 407-203-0866 | | $$

Barbecue-loving hipsters anxiously waited for the doors of Thomas “TreeHouse Truck” Ward’s urban “barbakoa” to unlock, and in the weeks and months since Pig Floyd’s late-August/early-September opening, the Mills 50 crowd has taken to the joint’s quality ’cue and witty marketing tactics. In addition to the moniker’s (and logo’s) nod to prog rock, their motto – “complete satisfaction starts with good wood” – helps position the joint as a sort of offbeat alternative to 4 Rivers Smokehouse. Plus the lines are a whole helluva lot more manageable as well … for the time being.

The place was positively bustling on a recent Sunday night, and given that it was an hour before closing, I saw that as a good sign. Also a good sign: the revamped interior of white brick and rustic wood touches properly befitting a barbecue joint. You’d hardly recognize the space from its days as Atilla’s Bar & Grill, and that’s a good thing. Chalkboards list the offerings, though we were thankful a hostess handed us a couple of menus to peruse. Their platters were our focus (all of which come with two sides) and, ultimately, it was really hard to settle on a favorite.

The two-meat platter ($13.99) featured luscious oakwood-smoked brisket, with a few burnt ends thrown in for good measure, and flavorful pulled pork. The platter was the perfect combination of fatty and lean, and the sauces (you’re asked to choose between sweet or spicy), while good, are practically unnecessary. Ward’s Puerto Rican heritage infuses a slight Latin influence into his dishes: Platters, for example, come served with tortillas, while black beans and rice, fried yuca and plantains are offered as sides. The latter – charred, sugary and ripe – are like wee nuggets of crack and nearly upstaged the brisket and pork. Apple-fennel slaw, our second side of choice, also satisfied.

The sweet rub on the one-and-a-half-pound rack of St. Louis-style ribs ($14.99), freshly wrenched from the embers, was stellar, and serving the ribs on a cutting board shaped like a sow was a nice touch. Perhaps the most eye-opening of meats we sampled was the spice-roasted chicken ($9.99 for a half-chicken). Everything from the rub to the moist flesh to the salty skin made it a standout item in this pit of pork and beef. Another nice touch: Vegetarians accompanying voracious meat-eaters can substitute tofu for any meat at no extra charge.

As far as sides, the grilled corn on the cob with chili, lime and cotija cheese is killer, while fried yuca, seasoned French fries and grilled seasonal veggies all passed muster.

Some negatives: Pork belly ($3.49) and chicken al pastor ($2.95) tacos were both downgraded because of cold, not warmed, tortillas. Also, the fried plantains aren’t always consistent – I’ve been served thick, unripe slabs with my platter on more than one occasion. Finally, on this particular visit, we were served dessert first, eliciting a WTF moment.

To end, a Mason jar of Cuban banana pudding ($4.99) with a cinnamon-lemon custard was preferred over the “Black & Tan” ($4.99) – a spiced chocolate pudding of brownie bits and chocolate chips. As far as brews, the four on tap complement a nice selection of bottled craft beers and ciders.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the inviting outdoor seating area – on one temperate evening, the tables outside were filled, while nary a soul sat inside. I’ve made quite a few stops into Pig Floyd’s since their opening, and there was even a stretch where I popped by on three consecutive evenings. The quality has always been consistent and, meal after meal, Pig Floyd’s never fails to leave me comfortably numb.

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