RACK & SOUL: LOUSY Q ON THE UPPER,UPPER WEST
As I may have mentioned. DH like BBQ. In fact, that is a bit of an understatement like saying Herod was not good with Kids. DH love BBQ with all of our fatty hearts.
So much so that we have predicated entire holidays to Texas on following the BBQ trail and found our spiritual home in Lockhart TX which houses about five BBQ joints in a town the size of a small cupboard.
One of the great disappointments of our lives is that it is so impossible to get good BBQ outside of the Midwest and the Southern States of the US. London made a stab at it with Bodean’s which flickered brightly for a while but now officially sucks as the concept is trundled out across town with increasingly diminishing returns.
Even here in NYC there is a paucity of choice and what there is ranges from disappointing to absolutely rank. Blue Smoke, what a Joke. R.U.B. I would rather rub acid in my eyes than go there again. I have not tried Dinosaur but have heard enough mixed reports from people I trust for me to dismiss it out of hand as AN Other ersatz joint.
Maggie, a New Yorker who now sensibly lives in London was here to see her family and suggested we meet up and, knowing my love of all things Q, suggested a new place.
Always a delight to see her but……………..
First, we agreed to meet at Rain on Columbus for drinks. The most inappropriate name for a bar anywhere. You would have more chance getting liquid refreshment in the Sahara. Thirty minutes after fighting my way to the bar and ordering, we were still waiting for the bar staff to make the drinks. So, we bade them a cheery goodbye and headed up to the Upper, Upper West Side to Rack & Soul which is a very new BBQ joint on 109th. By the way. I took a bus. But, let us not speak of that again.
Rack & Soul looks like it has been put together by someone who has never set foot in a proper BBQ place and that feeling was heightened by the waiter who announced when I asked where the pitmaster ( who is listed on the menu ) was from. “No idea” he said “ he just gave us the recipes and we get on with it” Ah, more like an absentee pitmaster then?
Still, they had Abita on the menu and a couple of those took the edge off and made me think that it may be OK.
It really wasn’t. My combination of pulled pork with chicken was, well quite frankly, a bit yuk. The pulled pork was very dry and had to be liberally doused in BBQ sauce. The fried chicken was too “bready” and the coating was soft.
Other’s fared a little better. Catfish looked fine, The beef ribs were enjoyed hugely by Maggie’s partner but it all looked a bit grim to me and some of the portions were parsimonious to say the least. Maggie ordered something called "Mac & Cheese". The sooner we get her back to civilisation the better.
Not cheap, either. $30 a head. Which is a great deal for what was as far from real BBQ as you can get without coming around the other side and meeting up with it again.
Just like Tapas bars, it is impossible to transfer the real spirit and quality of a true BBQ joint out of its natural environs. People have made valiant stabs. This was not one of them. It was a stab to the heart of someone looking for good Q.
I would travel thousands of miles to sample fabulous BBQ and, when I die, I want to be cremated in the pit at Smitty’s. There is not, however, enough money on Earth to get me to go all the way up to 109th again by bus, no less, to eat junk like this again
Shame on them