Sheer convenience is rarely a determining factor in the measure of a meal. A well-trafficked location with bright, neon signage does not automatically denote food worth forking.
An eater’s most memorable meals often occur at restaurants that required some investigation. And in Mineola, on a nondescript road in a partially industrial area, a small dinette is churning out cuisine that beckons to satiate a bayou and barbecue craving.
Biscuits & Barbeque (106 E. 2nd St.) opened in 2012 in a shimmering steel dining car. But the nostalgic exterior belies the food inside.
This is no 1950s throwback; Biscuits & Barbeque is cooking up hearty Southern fare from barbecue favorites to Cajun classics. Biscuits’ owner, Joan Gallo, said the restaurant has found its footing in its Mineola location, with a steady crowd of lunch and dinner regulars mixed in with out-of-towners spurred on by word-of-mouth.
“People come from all over,” said Gallo, who had run the similarly themed Manhattan eatery Delta Grill, which recently closed. “It certainly feels great to know that they are coming here strictly because of what they’ve heard about the food.”
And the food they’ve heard about is a loving amalgamation of down-home Southern and Louisiana Cajun, with creative takes on an array of well-known dishes. The dinner menu immediately piques the eater’s interest with it’s interesting appetizer menu, which includes fried green tomatoes, alligator sausage, delta fried pickles, as well as the addictive and only available on the weekends fried oysters.
The oysters, relegated to weekends only to preserve freshness, are lightly breaded and served with Cajun dipping sauce. These morsels are delicate and briny, perfectly preparing the palate for richer menu items like the jambalaya with chicken and smoked andouille sausage. Biscuits’ retrofitted its dining car with a smoker and they put it to good use, adding the unmistakable smoky lure with Louisiana tasso ham in its sausage-packed jambalaya.
The dish is spicy, but in a subtle way that inspires flavor rather than repels non-chili heads. Also among the appetizer elite, the country biscuit with andouille sausage gravy is an unabashed rib-sticking dish that comforts the eater more and more with each creamy, buttery bite.
Further down the dinner menu, Biscuits’ offers a handful of po’boys, including fried shrimp, barbecue chicken, pulled pork and catfish, as well as the Louisiana classic, the muffuletta sandwich.
For an entrée, one would be hard pressed to find a better rack of ribs on Long Island. As soon as they are set on the table, the mere sight of the glistening glaze on these meaty beauties entices even the most refined eater to revert back to their animal urges. Sticky and scintillating, the ribs are served in a smoked molasses barbecue sauce and bite cleanly off the bone rather than fall limply off in a sloppy mess. If the eater prefers, Biscuits’ will happily prepare the ribs with a dry rub.
Another sure bet is the Louisiana Gulf shrimp and grits. Plump gulf shrimp adorned with Cajun liveliness are served atop creamy and delightful grits with sautéed peppers and a surprising crunch of pecans, which bring texture to the dish and enable it to touch all the palate pleasure zones.
Each entrée is served with two sides that vary from the earthy smoked turkey collard greens to the red beans and rice with andouille sausage. Other side options include candied yams, cheddar jalapeno mashed potatoes and Southern grits. Two surprisingly dynamic sides were the fried onion rings and the vegetable of the day. The onion rings were thick and crisp, while the vegetable, which on that day was a Cajun combo of string beans, carrots and zucchini, were fresh, crunchy and brightened up with a spice mixture.
Although it seems impossible, it would be wise to save room for dessert at Biscuits. The restaurant’s key lime pie is quickly becoming a local legend, but Biscuits recently released an even better version with raspberry and a coconut crust. The pie is cool and calming with a texture best described as a crunchy smoothie. The Oreo turtle pie is on the other side of the spectrum, decadently giving the eater chocolate flashbacks for days.
A cash-only joint with six booths, 15 counter stools and a soothing BYOB policy, Biscuits & Barbeque doesn’t lean on mystique or ambiance. Instead, it delivers a straightforward, filling meal with friendly service—the only frills necessary is a menu filled with captivating cuisine created with homespun flair.