Tag Archives: Ribs

BBQ and Blues

Happy Tuesday, kids! I had a glorious day off from work yesterday so I spent it making omelettes and eating out at an Italian restaurant (more on that tomorrow!). Also, have you noticed that this is the season when oranges show up in your local grocery for mere pennies? It’s like I can’t help but eat 7 a day.

Over the weekend I went to Hartford, Connecticut and dined at my favorite BBQ restaurant in the world, Black Eyed Sally’s BBQ and Blues. Granted, I’ve never had southern BBQ in the south, but someone told me that the owners of Black Eyed Sally’s went to Memphis to perfect their Memphis-style ribs recipe. Let’s just say it’s worth the Amtrak trip.

Black Eyed Sally’s BBQ and Blues 350 Asylum Street, Hartford, CT. Black Eyed Sally’s is a Memphis style BBQ restaurant that features nightly blues music and cajun-inspired dishes. The atmosphere is casual and comfortable, the prices affordable, and the food authentic.

On the menu:
Fried calamari and crawfish tails
Memphis-style ribs with red beans and rice
Pulled pork sandwich with homemade salt and vinegar chips
Cornbread with honey butter

Verdict: So good! So good! So good! Gosh, I love this place. I lived in Connecticut in the summer of 2005 and fell head over heels for this place, so when I went back this weekend I prayed it was the same. And ooooh friends… it did not disappoint. The ribs have a ton of meat that falls right off the bone, with a distinct but not overpowering smoky flavor. The skin was crispy with almost no sauce at all. The calamari and crawfish were also outstanding with a tangy dipping sauce that I could’ve eaten with a spoon (don’t worry, I didn’t… at least not while anyone was watching). Another meal highlight was the cornbread: cakey and moist and sweet and smeared with honey butter… even after the button on my jeans was about to pop I had another piece. It’s a sickness, really.

Hartford might not be the most likely spot for delicious BBQ and jaw-dropping blues music, but trust me, if you ever find yourself in this little New England city, stop into Black Eyed Sally’s. Elvis would approve.

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Everything’s Bigger at Hill Country

This is a story of one girl’s quest for amazing BBQ ribs in New York City. I was told that Hill Country had “Texas-style BBQ” by a woman I met at The Brooklyn Kitchen condiments class who has toured the country and tasted BBQ all over. I figured this was a solid recommendation.

Hill Country 26th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue, New York, NY. Hill Country is, as mentioned, Texas-style BBQ in a honky-tonk setting. This is a place that sells its own t-shirts at the front register if that’s any indication of the atmosphere. When you sit down at Hill Country they hand you a card with all the menu items, and then you have to visit the meat counter, the sides counter, and the dessert counter to order what you want. You can order as little or as much as you want, from a single slice of brisket and single pork ribs, to a whole game hen and “feed the family” sized mashed potatoes. The ambiance is a down home, down country, honky-tonk, kick up your heels kitsch-fest. But somehow it feels authentic.

On the menu:
Bourbon mashed sweet potatoes
Corn bread
Macaroni and cheese
Roasted game hen
Pork ribs
Moist brisket
Apple ginger cupcake
PB&J cupcake

Verdict: Holy brisket. I think this is what Texas does right. The ribs were satisfactory, and still nothing to write home about, but holy mackerel, the brisket. It was delicious. And Hill Country has three different types of brisket on the menu, so I GUESS I have to go back again to try the other two. Another standout menu item was the game hen. It was incredibly moist and roasted to perfection with a crispy skin. It should also be noted that Hill Country is perfect for big groups. The pickiest (or cheapest) member of your party can literally order one single pork rib and a beer if they feel like it, and separate checks are a done deal from the start. The service is attentive, the atmosphere is comfortable and welcoming, and the food was decadent and delicious. I almost wanted to start throwin’ around “y’all”s.

Almost.

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Blue Smoke

This week I participated in my second Restaurant Week venture, with a delicious pay off (every once in awhile you get a RW dud where it’s clear you’re getting the establishment’s dregs… cough SMITH & WOLLENSKY cough).

Blue Smoke East 27th St, between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue, New York, NY. Blue Smoke specializes in barbeque, with regional specialties from across the country. In the basement of the restaurant is Jazz Standard, a renowned jazz club with live music every night of the week.

Grilled octopus over wild rice

On the menu:
Grilled octopus over wild rice with hazelnuts and cherry tomatoes
Chicken wings with blue cheese sauce
Kansas City Spareribs with coleslaw and pit beans
Peach and raspberry crisp with buttermilk ice cream
Sour cream cheesecake with blackberries and mint

Peach and raspberry crisp with buttermilk ice cream

Verdict: I should preface by telling you that I am a BBQ snob. I know… shocking. The best ribs I’ve ever had are the face-meltingly good babyback ribs at Kirsty’s Red Dog Tavern in Inlet, NY way up north in the Adirondacks, and at Black-eyed Sally’s BBQ and Blues in Hartford, CT. Everything else pales in comparison.

So while the ribs at Blue Smoke were good, it was the pit beans that became the star of the show. They had a beautiful smoky-sweet flavor and were nestled between delicately tender shreds of pulled pork. I could’ve eaten a bowl of the beans alone. The octopus was also surprisingly delicious for a BBQ joint, and proves that the kitchen is much more skilled than BBQ diners might anticipate.

Another point worth mentioning is the outstanding Blue Smoke Original Ale. Just give me a pint of Blue Smoke, a bowl of pit beans, and I’m happy.

I’m a simple girl, folks.

Sour cream cheesecake with berries and mint

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