Trip to Southern Hospitality-NYC (no pics)
4/2/08-My gf and I were on the Upper East Side of Manhattan this evening and I had been wanting to try this new BBQ place for a while. The pitmaster there is the "Dr of BBQ" aka Ray Lempe. He is also a Roadfood member. I didn't have the camera with me, but I used my gf's camera phone. Sorry to say that the picture quality was rather ghastly, so I won't be posting them here. Guess I'll have to make a return trip. Here's the lowdown (JohnA, I know you've been waiting for this!):
We walked in and the first thing I noticed was that I couldn't detect any smoke smell. We were seated in the back and the place seemed fairly busy. The people at the table next to us heard us discussing the menu and recommended the fried chicken and the "Lone Star Beef Ribs". Dayna had the "Homestyle Fried Chicken Platter" for $15.95 (and a $3.00 charge for all-white meat) described on the menu as buttermilk marinated and deep fried until golden brown, served with garlic mashed potatoes, gravy, greens & cornbread. They brought out a mix and white and dark meat and she asked the waitress if she could send it back and just get the all-white meat she had ordered. She did so and it came back in a little bit as they were frying it fresh. She loved the chicken, but I thought it was just okay. I did find it to be moist, juicy and tender and the crust had a good texture to it. The flavor just didn't "pop" for me. I did like it with honey provided on the table drizzled on top. I'm not sure what it was about the flavor, but I would probably order it if I went back. I think it's worth a second try. The mashed potatoes were real, not instant, although they were a bit wet and I wished the gravy had a peppery bite to it, but that's just my personal preference. The greens (collards, I believe) were really good and I usually don't like them. Most times they smell like wet dog, sorry for the imagery, but they really do to me. These were soft, buttery and had a terrific flavor to them. Top notch.
I had the "Pulled Pork Platter" for $15.95 which was served with cole slaw, old granddad's baked beans, a big square of our homemade cornbread and a slice of Texas toast (as described on the menu). I liked this, but it was a bit of a mixed bag. The coleslaw was mayo based and really great. Just lightly dressed and not swimming in mayo (which I can't stand). The beans were good and reminded me of the Heinz vegetarian beans, but with something else added, possibly some peppers and seasonings. The cornbread was some what dry and disappointing. The toast had a good grilled flavor, but it was only half a slice of toast. Oh well. No big deal. I also ordered a side of "Dr. BBQ's Sweet Cream Corn" $3.95. This was very tasty and got thicker towards the end of eating it. Not thick like corn pudding, but sweet, it was a good complement to the meat. The most important part, the pork, was good. Not the best I've ever had, but good and worth having again. Now, I'm a pulled pork man all the way. I'd choose it over ribs everyday of the week and twice on Sundays, so I'm, kinda particular about how I like it. Thankfully, it came to the table unsauced. I like to decided how much sauce I want on it. The texture was good and somewhat moist, although it could have been more so. I didn't get much of a smoke flavor on it and that's where I really wished for more. I do love a heavy smoke flavor on my pork. Just my preference.
They had two sauces on the table, one, which I'm guessing is a house sauce in an unlabeled squeeze bottle. The other was a bottled sauce called Cackalacky Spice Sauce from Chapel Hill, NC. The house sauce was good. It reminded me of the McDonald's BBQ sauce for the McNuggets, only way better and didn't have that goopy "HFCS" texture to it and had a good spice note to it. I really loved the Cackalacky though. A vinegar based sauce with ingredients such as: brown sugar, molasses, Key lime juice, apple cider, wine, sweet potatoes, honey, (unnamed) peppers, and onions to name a few. I really moistened the pork and gave it a spicy kick that had my nose running a bit. A forkful of slaw and that vinegar doused pork made me very happy.
I had a "Peach Cobbler" $5.95 for dessert and it was very good. I nice cobbler on top that was clearly made in house and lots of fresh peaches. Served warm, it was a nice end to the meal.
Overall, I thought it was somewhat hit-or-miss, but I don't have any real reasons to quantify why other than personal preferences. I do like this place, but it's not my favorite in the city. I'm more likely to come back with friends than to just seek it out on my own. Definitely worth checking out though. Hope this has been helpful