Corner Burger

It’s Black Friday. Fork and Demitasse Spoon are doing a bit of power shopping. You simply cannot continue shopping on an empty stomach. Need food – fast – but not fast food. But where do you go? Fork suggests trying Park Slope, with three or four restaurants on every block, there’s bound to be something to agree on.

And there, calling to us, a beacon on a cold, dreary day – Corner Burger.  Burgers are always a good choice. Place looks fun. Parking spot across the street made it a fait accompli.

Corner Burger is a small place. 11 tables total.  Family owned and operated. Spotlessly clean. Funky atmosphere. Friendly staff. Great service.  Wooden tables with wooden chairs that have shiny red vinyl coverings. Music posters, album covers and photos line the walls.  Napkins, straws, forks and knives are in buckets on the table. Their motto? ‘It’s not fast food, it’s prepared food’ And well prepared it certainly is.

The menu is simple. Burgers, burgers and more burgers. You can have a beef burger, turkey burger or veggie burger.  There are 8 types of cheese and  9 toppings, either one for a nominal charge. There are also 5 different sauces.

Beyond that there are 8 signature burgers. The signature burgers do not cost more than ordering the burger and toppings separately from the burger section. It’s just giving you the combination ideas.  None of the burgers are served with fries, those are extra.

Our waiter was terrific. Very friendly. At the ready when we were ready. Sadly, there is no fresh iced tea. Only soda in cans and it is reasonably priced. There is also a beer list, and some shakes and smoothies. Nothing very extensive. Nothing exotic. Good food, good atmosphere, good drinks, good prices.

Fork and Demitasse spoon both ordered the Slope Burger. A perfectly cooked beef burger topped with cheddar cheese, crispy bacon and homemade onion rings.  There is also lettuce, tomatoes, red onion and pickles. The buns are fresh and sadly a little soft for Fork’s liking. Onion rings are a nice touch sitting on the burger. The burger was cooked perfectly and is really a nice size. The lettuce, tomatoes, and red onion were very fresh. The Slope Burgers were $9.00, 75 cents more than asking for a burger with cheese and bacon, chalk the 75 cents up to the onion rings.

The onion rings were a little odd to Fork. Batter dipped? Yes. Soggy and a strange color? Yes and yes. But that would be the only downfall at Corner Burger, and that may only be Fork’s opinion as Demitasse Spoon gobbled them all up!

We did order a basket of fries simply because you cannot have a burger without fries, at least according to the laws of Fork. One order of fries was certainly large enough for two pieces of cutlery to share. The fries were crispy, but still tender on the inside.

Corner Burger’s sides also include fired pickles, spicy curly fries, onion rings, cole slaw, mozzarella sticks and chili. THe sides range from $2.50 to $4.25.

On the specials board there was a special Thanksgiving burger – turkey burger, stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy. If it hadn’t been the day after Thanksgiving, this would be a great burger to try. They also now have pulled pork sandwiches, another nice menu item.

Whether you eat in the restaurant, have it delivered or order for pick up, the burgers at Corner Burger will not disappoint! If you’re in Park Slope and have a yen for a great burger, this is definitely the spot.

Corner Burger ~ 381 5th Avenue ~ Brooklyn, NY ~ 718.360.462
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Japonica

As you walk around New York’s Greenwich Village you can practically throw a chopstick and hit a sushi restaurant, so what makes Japonica so special?  Fork thinks it starts with the super friendly and accommodating staff and the authentic Japanese decor, but the main reason has to be the fresh and incredible sushi. The restaurant is as clean as clean can be, colorful lanterns hang everywhere.

Japonica was opened in 1978 and quickly became one of the Village’s restaurant institutions. Often very crowded, reservations are a must. The waiting area is teeny tiny and the wait can be a torment. Without a reservation, the key is to go before 6:00 pm or not long before closing.  Along with tables, you can dine at the sushi bar as well.  There is also a tatami room for parties.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. The huge and quick turnover ensures that every morsel presented to you is fresh and Japonica’s exacting standards ensure that it is of the best quality available. The menu is huge. A huge variety of both raw and cooked items. The menu is a little on the pricey side, but the bento boxes are a great value and the maki are both varied and inexpensive. On the other side of pricey is the quality, which is second to none, and the HUGE portions you are served really make this restaurant a value.

Fork, Tea Strainer and Chopstix met at Japonica for dinner. Japonica is one of Chopstix’s favorite haunts. This being Fork’s first trip to Japonica, Fork followed Chopstix’s lead for ordering.  Being a piece of cutlery that is used to 3 courses, Fork was surprised to be told that an appetizer would be SO unnecessary.

The dinners all come with a salad to start. In most of the Japanese restaurants Fork has been to the salad served with dinner is a very sad salad. Wilted iceberg lettuce and dried up bits of carrot, usually slathered in a poor rendition of a ginger dressing. Not so here. This was a very large, extremely fresh mesclun salad mix, with bright, crisp carrots. The dressing was great. Not too thick, not too much, great balance of flavors – slightly sweet, slightly savory. Wonderful beginning to our meal.

Fork and Chopstix ordered the Deluxe Sushi.  While it rings in at a whopping $35.00, the cuts of sushi are huge.  The fish is very fresh, very high quality, the type of fantastic sushi you get cravings for and spend years searching for.  There were 8 pieces of sushi, a salmon roll, a piece of tamago (egg cake) and Tobiko (flying fish caviar). By the time  Chopstix and Fork finished, we were stuffed to the gills (we love food puns, don’t you?).  Many times after finishing a sushi platter your taste buds are left not completely happy or satisfied. When you finish eating sushi at Japonica, each of your taste buds has been hit and each are totally satisfied.

Tea Strainer ordered the Dinner Bento Box. This dining experience starts off with a bowl of miso soup. Once you finish your soup, placed in front of you is a large tray laden with lots of goodies. The bento box always arrives with a small garden salad, 2 vegetable dumplings, and asparagus; then a choice between 4 items – Tea Strainer chose unagi mini donburi (BBQ eel rice bowl); and then another choice between 4 items for the ‘main’ – Tea Strainer chose sushi.  All this for only $24.50

Ah, dessert.  A culinary adventure cannot truly be had without dessert. Because we all were so stuffed, dessert needed to be something small. Mochi Green Tea ice cream was the perfect choice. Sweet, yet small. As an explanation, mochi is actually a Japanese confection made from pulverized sticky rice, this paste then surrounds green tea ice cream. Green tea ice cream is slightly sweet and has a very nice distinct flavor.

We were allowed to eat at a very slow pace, not rushed or hassled. Water glasses constantly – and quickly – filled. All the staff smile and are accommodating. After we finished eating we were sent a glass of ice cold, sweet plum wine. Perfect ending to a perfect meal.

The wine list here is great – we went through TWO bottles between three pieces of cutlery! Beer is also available. Definitely make a reservation – or go at off hours. If all else fails, they deliver! PJs, sushi and a Godzilla movie, sounds like a plan to me!

Japonica ~ 100 University Place ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.243.7752
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El Coyote

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It is always amazing that you can pass by a place dozens of times and never realize the hidden gem within. So is the case with El Coyote. El Coyote is located on Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights, Queens. Hidden amongst car dealerships, Rite-Aids, 7-11s and karaoke bars is a very unassuming Mexican restaurant that is absolutely worth venturing into.

The atmosphere in El Coyote is warm, the staff friendly and the food fantastic. With that sort of restaurant trifecta a good time and great dining experience is practically guaranteed.

Fork and Spoon and those significant cutlery met here for dinner. Truly, as Fork and Spoon have mentioned before, we bring them along to have more dishes to try – though, really, they are pleasant enough company.

The restaurant is warm and cozy. Great colors throughout and murals painted on the walls. Good music wafting in the background, bottomless iced tea, and a staff that doesn’t hover and rush you. Perfecto!

The tortilla chips are hot and fresh, their salsa freshly made and really good, and no matter how many times you ask for more, they bring them – and with a smile! The salsa was fresh, didn’t have that bitter astringent taste to it that salsa gets that’s been sitting around for days.

GuacamoleThe problem becomes, when you want to eat EVERYTHING on the menu, how do you narrow it down to a few choices? Fork supposes, you begin with the first thing on the menu!

Guacamole, prepared tableside.  This was probably one of the first times Fork has had guacamole prepared tableside that the person making the guacamole actually listened to how we wanted it prepared … slightly spicy and lots of lime. Most people don’t realize, lime is what makes guacamole pop. Without it, it’s really just mushed up avocado.  Brought to the table to dip into the wonderful guacamole were warm, fresh, soft corn tortillas, and more tortilla chips.  Needless to say, this was gobbled up in minutes.

DipOur second starter was a house special, Queso Fundido – and yes, Fork made that name up! Ooey gooey queso (cheese for you gringos out there)  with bits of spicy chorizo and tomato. The chorizo bits were slightly crispy. It is unbelievably good! Salty and smooth and rich, and GONE very quickly. Again, served with soft, warm corn tortillas for dipping. You just want to pick up the bowl and run away with it so you don’t have to share any with anyone!

Puerco PebilFork and Spoon decided to share the Cochinita Pibil – for you Johnny Depp fans, a bit of trivia, this is the dish he ordered everywhere he went in  Once Upon a Time in Mexico, once finished, if he liked the way it was cooked, he killed the chef.  This was wonderful, and we did not feel the need to kill the chef! Pork shoulder rubbed with achiote, then wrapped in banana leaves and slow cooked until for tender. The little tree was heart of palm, avocado and olives. The pork was beyond tender, just falling a part as we began to dig in. The spiciness of the pork was nicely balanced with a little bite of avocado or heart of palm. The paring was wonderful. Very clever and made the dish all the more appetizing.

Served along side the Cochinite Pibil was Rice & Beans. The presentation of the plates and the plating is as important here as the food itself. They get the concept that your first bite of food is visual. The rice is fresh, not stale rice that has been sitting around, the black beans well seasoned and not mushy. Oh, for more room in our stomachs!

Now, the main problem with dining with our significant cutlery is they aren’t so willing to share!

One ordered the Chinichangas. In most Mexican restaurants, you get one gigantic chimichanga, way too much extra tortilla and not enough filling. Instead, at El Coyote, you are served two smaller chimichangas. They are completely filled, not greasy in the least, and served with a good helping of guacamole and sour cream. Totally worth ordering.

The other ordered Bistec Ranchero.  Butterflied and grilled sirloin steak served with slowly cooked onions and poblano peppers with a mild guajillo sauce.  Between the poblano and guajillo peppers there was both a smokey pepper flavor and a little bit of heat. Very nice portion of sirloin. Fork and Spoon did not try the steak, but from the silence on that side of the table, it must have been good!

Ah, dessert. No matter what you eat for dinner – or how much – there is always room for dessert. It’s Spoon’s theory that dessert goes into a separate stomach and therefore always enough room.

Spoon and Fork shared a Tres Leches cake. We were very wary of ordering tres leches cake. Past experience has taught us that ‘home made’ doesn’t always mean made in this particular home. But nothing else jumped out at us from the dessert menu. I know, stinky photo, but seriously good cake! Not damp and mushy. Definitely made in-house. Baked right inside a white ramekin. As full as we were, we had no troubles gobbling this up. Not quite sure what the red syrup was on top. Not sweet enough for maraschino juice, but really very good. Light spongy cake with loads of sweetness from the – well, from the tres leches, but not the soggy mush we were expecting.

One significant cutlery ordered Fried Ice Cream. Frozen solid vanilla ice cream, dredged in crushed corn flakes, and deep fried. Good quality ice cream makes a huge difference here. The ice cream sat in a puddle of chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

And the other significant cutlery ordered a bread pudding. Fork is not usually a fan of bread pudding. Mushy is the only word that ever comes to mind when those two words are put together.  But this was pretty good. Not too wet or mushy. There was a delicious guava sauce on top which added a great deal of flavor to the bread pudding. Served on the side was vanilla ice cream.

The service in El Coyote is outstanding. They don’t care how long you take to finish your meal. They are at the ready to refill iced teas and water.  They saw Fork and Spoon taking photos of the food and would bring plates over and say, ‘this will make a beautiful picture.’ 

When our meal was done they brought over glasses of warm mulled wine for the table.

If you live in the Jackson Heights area, you definitely must try El Coyote. If you don’t want o go out because it’s too chilly, order in, they deliver!

For those of you in the Monroe, CT, area, you are in luck as well! There is an El Coyote located at 838 Main St., Monroe, CT., 203.459.4055.

El Coyote ~ 80-18 Northern Boulevard ~ Jackson Heights, NY ~ 718.651.4874
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Craftbar

front

Craftbar has been dubbed the casual little sister to Tom Colicchio’s fabulous Craft restaurant.  But, don’t you dare think that the title little sister means lesser than in either quality or atmosphere… it definitely stands out and up on its own.

Chic and casual, industrial and warm. The juxtaposition that runs throughout this restaurant, both in menu and decor, begins as soon as you walk through the door. The bar area of the restaurant – which is at the front as soon as you walk in – is warm and inviting, very high ceilings. There is a catwalk over head and against the walls to access the wonderful wines that line the walls.  The staff is there as you enter, friendly and ready to greet you. There are a few small tables in the bar area.

The dining room is open and has a more industrial feel to it than the bar area. It is still very warm and inviting. Iced Tea Spoon and Fork were shown to a nice big table for 4 in the main dining room. The main room is bright and roomy. The tables are not on top of each other, which is rare and always a plus. Plenty of room for two pieces of cutlery to have a wonderful meal and at really leisurely pace. Our drink orders were taken and to Fork’s pleasure, and surprise, Craftbar has bottomless iced tea.

Our lovely waitress Anna came over to see if we had any questions about the menu and to see if we were ready to order. We sheepishly looked at her and said we weren’t ready yet.  We weren’t ready when she came back the second time, or the third, Fork finally, tines hung in shame, explained that it had been some time since we had been together.  Anna looked at us and said, ‘I understand. Wave me over when you’re ready.’ And we did just that.

The menu is an amazing mix of American and Italian cuisine, with an eclectic flair and occasional unusual combination of ingredients. Looking at this menu, everything looks good. Everything looks like something you want to order.

We started with Small Plates, three small plates, because…..well, because we just had to try them all.

riceballsWe began with Pecorino Risotto Balls. Three are served and each is probably slightly smaller than a pool ball. Crisp and golden on the outside. Delightful, al dente, creamy, cheesy on the inside. These are not your neighborhood rice balls. The difference being the interior being actual risotto. What people tend to associate with rice balls are soft ball sized concoctions with rice and meat and peas at the center. Nope. Not these. The risotto keeps the inside tender and moist, while the frying keeps the outside perfect and crisp. There is the unmistakable flavor of pecorino in every bite.  The risotto balls are served in a lovely pool of very fresh tomato sauce, very fresh tasting, hints of fresh basil and a slight sweetness and slight spiciness. The sauce was a complete juxtaposition to the saltiness of the risotto ball, and yet in perfect harmony. Two pieces of cutlery, three risotto balls, this could have been the end of beautiful friendship. But cooler flatware prevailed and the third risotto ball was amicably split. And, besides, there was so much more to come!

polenta frittersNext up were Polenta Fritters, with Jalapeno and Golden Raisins. Oh, I wish this photo was lighter! Fritter. Can a fritter really ever be bad? These are smaller than the risotto balls, perhaps pingpong ball in size. Fork has spent many years battling against tough polenta. It takes a very delicate touch to make creamy, tender polenta, but Craftbar adds to that the pressure of being deep fried. Inside the fritter, standing demurely next to the polenta are golden raisins, adding a hint of sweetness. Atop the fritters are pickled jalapeño. Doesn’t seem like it could be, but each bite is perfect. A little polenta, a little golden raisin, a little heat from the jalapeño, along with the tang from it being pickled.  Again, a very complementary juxtaposition. The fritters are served with a tzatziki sauce. Not sure why. It doesn’t really seem to fit

sausageExcitement abounded this night. Fork and Iced Tea Spoon could not help themselves in ordering a third appetizer. But the Sausage Sage Leaves with Lemon Aioli seemed too good to pass up. We asked Anna to explain a little more about this dish. Anna explained that it was a fennel sausage, yes, made at the restaurant, that was then wrapped in sage leaves and lightly fried. Okay, SOLD! And there appeared before us these lovely sausages. Sorry the photos are a little dark, but we already know how badly sausages photograph anyway. These were delicious sausages. The sage leaves became seriously crispy when fried and the flavor changes slightly, but still retained that earthy sage flavor. The flavor from the fennel was noticable, but not overpowering. Once you dip the sausage into the lemon aioli your tastebuds are instantly dancing in your mouth. More please, more please! Again, we have that hard working word here again, juxtaposition, the savoriness of the sausage, the slight sweetness of the fennel, the tang and sweetness of the aioli. Amazing.

The entrees were much harder to choose – not that the small plates were a snap – there are so many of them, and there wasn’t one Fork wouldn’t have been game to try.  We finally settled on two entrees.

meatballsFirst up was the Veal Ricotta Meatballs. It must be said, Fork has rarely met a meatball not worth diving into. Veal and ricotta had to mean this was going to be amazing. And it turns out that our instinct was right.  Just being made from veal made the meatballs more tender. Add to this the delicate fluffiness that can be added by the ricotta and you have meatballs that would have flown out of the bowl if not for the grated pecorino and light sprinkling of basil on top. The meatballs are served in a pol of fresh tomato sauce with the slightest bit of zing to it. You can have the dish served with pasta if you like. Fork and Iced Tea Spoon would have preferred a little bread to dip into the sauce, and passed on the pasta.  Meatballs this light and fluffy must be tried and savored and ordered again!

pastaThe second entree was not as successful, at least to us. Casunziei, Wild Spinach, Brown Butter, with Poppy Seeds.  Casunziei is half-moon shaped ravioli. Traditionally, casunziei are made either red – in the Autumn with beets – or green – in the Spring with spinach and chives.  The casunziei we had were beet.  This particular preparation is an old-Venetian style. Fork read the words ‘brown butter’ and the tines went up like antennae.  Perhaps made a little differently this dish could have been really good. To begin, there was just way too much spinach. There was virtually no brown butter sauce on the plate. There was no flavor of brown butter anywhere. Those of you who are brown butter fans know that it has a very distinct flavor – that flavor was totally absent. We were told that it had to be there or the sesame seeds would not stick, but in reality they would stick to damp pasta – like the casunziei stuck to the roof of our mouths. It was just unpleasant. Sticky pasta that looked like it was bleeding when you cut it. Fork knew it was beet filled, but the fuchsia color that came out was disconcerting – but that is Fork’s problem, not the pasta’s problem. The stickiness, spinach, and lack of brown butter was the dish’s problem.

sorbetAnna must have said something about our dissatisfaction with the pasta dish to one of the hostesses because after the plates were cleared suddenly appearing at our table were two beautiful, glossy, shimmering balls. The young lady explained that she thought we might like to try the sorbets made inhouse…..well, thank you so much, and heck yeah! One was chocolate. Think of the darkest, most decadent chocolate truffle you have ever eaten, then add to that it being cold, cold, cold, and there you have what Fork and Iced Tea Spoon sampled. It really wasn’t quite sorbet-ish, definitely more dense like a truffle. This may come as a shock to some cutlery reading out there, it may have been a little TOO chocolatey. The other was raspberry. Really wonderful, tart raspberry. Raspberry sorbet has a way of occasionally being cloyingly sweet, so not the case here.  But it was wonderful and refreshing and devoured. Truthfully, a little spoon of the chocolate and a little spoon of the raspberry was pure heaven. Fork’s main question is, how did they get the sorbets to look like patent leather without it being a melted mess!?

puddingAnd as those of you who follow our adventures know, this would not be a true adventure of cutlery if there weren’t at least two desserts. Yes, the sorbet and two others. But does the sorbet really count? We had already ordered two desserts. I mean, we don’t want to look like serving sized cutlery here and seem glutenous!

The first was Butterscotch Pudding with Caramelized Apples. Very thick, dense butterscotch pudding with a quenelle of creme fraiche on top, and an amazing brown butter cookie. To the side were delicious caramelized apples. Again, the word – juxtaposition – the sweetness of the apples in juxtaposition with the butterscotch and the brown butter cookie. Great flavors, but … Fork wasn’t too keen on the texture of the pudding itself. The flavor was there, the texture was just a little kindergarten paste-ish – and, no, Fork was not one of those weird paste eating kids – Fork’s palate was advanced even then! Iced Tea Spoon and Fork kept trying the pudding, hoping for a change, trying to figure out why we disliked it so much – it was definitely the consistency. Well, truth be told, the color wasn’t too appetizing either. The cookie, on the other hand, was fabulous. Crisp, not too thin or thick, and the brown butter flavor, my, oh, my! The apples were so tender and the caramel flavor was so great and intense.  In truth, the cookie and the apples saved this dessert from being disasterous.

brownieDessert number 2, Warm Brownie, Banana Ice Cream, Chocolate sauce. Can there possibly be much more to say than that?  Thick, chocolatey, dense, chewy brownie (yes, all in one brownie) topped with creamy banana ice cream. The ice cream was amazing. This would have been enough, but noooooo, it was swimming in a pool of chocolate sauce. Not done yet, on top of this delight was a quenelle of whipped cream and sprinkled with chocolate crunchy somethings.  Totally divine. Sweet, bitter, hot, cold, dense liquidy – I feel the use of that word again – perfect juxtaposition.

To the naysayers out there who feel that Craftbar does not live up to the standards of Craft – it ain’t supposed to! Craftbar is a force onto itself. Different concept. Different cuisine. Different atmosphere.  An an absolutely a fantastic dining experience.  DOn’t think of it as… we couldn’t get into Craft, we may as well go to Craftbar. Go to Craftbar because it is …

Tom Colicchio made a wonderful choice with Chef de Cuisine Lauren Hirschberg. His food vision is absolutely realized through her eyes. Can’t wait to go back!

Books by Tom Colocchio – ‘wichcraft, Think Like a Chef , Craft of Cooking

Craftbar ~ 900 Broadway ~ New York, NY ~ 212.461.4300
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Rub BBQ

Front

While in the search of great eats around New York City, near the top of the cutlery list to try is always great BBQ. This search led Fork & Spoon to RUB BBQ (Righteous Urban Barbeque) in  the Chelsea section of Manhattan. Seriously casual, super busy, lousy acoustics, mostly good BBQ, great staff, and……BURNT ENDS.

There a couple of problems with RUB, the first of which is having to time your visit perfectly to have the items on the menu that you like best actually available. Fork understands the concept and reasoning as it was explained, but when you set your tines on something and you cannot order it, that sort of ruins the entire meal.

For a change, Fork arrived at RUB BBQ before Spoon. First thing Fork noticed inside the door was a blackboard announcing NO BURNT ENDS! WHAT!? Quite frankly, burnt ends were what drew us to RUB in the first place! As Fork waited for Spoon, Fork was trying to think of another place we could go close by for barbeque. No burnt ends, what’s the point.

Spoon, being the voice of reason – and starving – said we should try it anyway, we were here, but Fork wasn’t going to like it, wasn’t no way, wasn’t no how.

The iced tea is fresh and bottomless. Our waiter was very nice and very knowledgable about the menu. We asked in the sweetest way possible if there was any possibility of burnt ends – even though the chalk board said no. He went to the kitchen and returned with a sad no. Now what could we possibly order that could possibly remove that disappointment!?

As an aside, after we ordered, our waiter back over to our table with a sly smile and whispered the words, ‘Burnt Ends, would you still like to try some?’ Oh, yes, please. Meat there is ordered by the ‘special’ plate or by the pound, and we greedily ordered a pound of burnt ends.

BaconAfter looking over the menu and ordering, we learned that BBQ Bacon Chunks can soothe the restlessness of any piece of cutlery! Pork, the cure-all. This is house cured, triple smoked Berkshire black pork belly, cut into one inch pieces, cooked crisp and served in one of those paper boats with pickles on the side. The downside of this starter consists of, perhaps – and my estimate is generous – 2 slices of bacon at a whopping price of $7.95. The bacon is really good and really rich so you probably couldn’t eat more than that (yeah, right!), but that’s a whole lot of coin for very little bacon. Should you still order it? Oh, yes!

Hush puppiesAlso as a starter we ordered Hush Puppies. These are seriously good. Moist, light, fluffy. The outsides are crispy, the inside tender and moist. Often times hush puppies can be so terribly dry inside that they need something to dip them in to choke them down – not these. The hush puppies are served in a paper boat with butter and honey on the side, but because of the consistency of these little golden beauties, they need nothing more than to be bitten. The hush puppies definitely have more of a flavor than just corn meal, they have Old Bay seasoning inside. The seasoning gives a little extra oomph of flavor to the corn meal. These are another must have.

FriesOur third starter was BBQ Chili Cheese Fries, served in a paper boat (getting a thread here?).  This Chili is amazing. Smokey. Tangy. Rich. Great hand-cut fries underneath, and – as if it is really necessary – melted cheese all over the top.  The chili is made from brisket and burnt ends that are slow smoked at RUB. As an aside, when you look into the kitchen at RUB, you see a bright red metal wall. At first you wonder what that could possibly be and then you realize those are the SMOKERS! Everything is done on site, and for a tiny place, it is truly amazing. Seriously good chili. Very filling. At this point we could have stopped and called it a night, but we forged ahead.

Burnt endsFor those of you not in the BBQ know, burnt ends are the point, or fatty part, of the brisket. First slow cooked on the brisket, and when the brisket is done, cut off and cooked even longer! Our waiter explained that the burnt ends came from the brisket after it was slow cooked for about 8 hours, and that it took approximately 1o pounds of brisket to get 1 pound of burnt ends.  Now we know why they are very hit or miss. Although how you cannot be prepared for a busy Friday nite with the popular items on the menu is beyond Fork. THe burnt ends are served in – you guessed it – a paper boat, with pickles on the side.

But the taste! The tenderness! The range of flavors and textures! This dish alone made the entire trip palatable and worthwhile. The outsides of these tender tidbits are charred – not burnt at all – and smokey. The meat falls apart as you try yo pick it up. You just want to keep eating it.  It is really hard to explain the delight these chunks of brisket bring to your mouth! You really just need to experience them for yourself!

PLateWe continued the gorging with an entree – what nerve. There are a few named entrees, but for the most part it’s 1 meat, 2 meats, 3 meats. So  in the spirit of the the film, ‘My Cousin Vinnie’ when Vinnie and Lisa were deciding what to have in a diner, we ordered, meat. We ordered 2 meats and a quarter rack of ribs. HOLY COW. To make matters worse, it came with 2 sides – AND served in a paper boat!  We decided to try the Barbequed Beef Brisket, Pulled Pork, we asked for Short End Ribs, and for sides Baked Beans and Onion Strings.  This next part is rather easy…

Brisket? As dry as the Sahara desert and not much flavor. It could have been the cut up soul of a shoe.

The pulled pork was terrific. Whatever BBQ sauce the pork is cooked in, or perhaps it’s the flavor the pork puts into the BBQ sauce, was very good. Much better than the BBQ sauces brought to the table. The pork was tender and juicy.

The ribs were not the Short End as requested – which are the last 7 ribs of the slab and more tender – but the Long End – which are the first 6 ribs of the slab and are supposed to be meatier. While this may be true of the Long End, they are also drier and devoid of flavor.

The Barbequed Baked Beans were nothing to speak about. They weren’t good. They weren’t bad. They were just there – and were left there.

The Onion Strings on the other hand were great. They’re like a deconstructed onion loaf. Little strings of onion dipped in batter and deep fried. Unlike an onion loaf that gets soggy and oily as you get to the center, because these are individual pieces of onion everything stays crispy.

Am I glad we trekked here? Yes. Would I go back again? Maybe not. But I would call first to make sure the burnt ends are there. Heck they do take-out and delivery! All that BBQ goodness and in your pjs!

Now, about the paper boats … ok, they are cute and kitsch and fall into the theme of the restaurant, but every boat has a GIGANTIC piece of parchment paper inside of it. If you order multiple items, all there is in front of you is an overwhleming amount of parchment paper. And, to make matters worse, the paper boats, the bouquets of parchment paper are piled onto a round tray. So if you are sitting at a table for two, two trays, filled with boats and paper is enough to confuse you out of appetite.

Now those of you who follow our little drawer of cutlery – or have read our main page – know that we have some restaurant pet peeves.  Here’s another – when did restaurants decide diners should pack up their own left overs? ‘I’d like to take this home.’  Next thing you know they are handing you a styrofoam box and a plastic bag. Really? Tips don’t include the occasionally left over pack up?

Rub BBQ ~ 208 W. 23rd Street ~ New York, NY ~ 212.524.4300
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