April 25, 2005 | Ask Gael
Another new barbecue joint? Is it the real deal?

         It was Sunday, and Spanky’s BBQ was forlorn and deserted. They warned us the kitchen was about to close. Not a good omen. “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you,” the boy manager said. So it was no surprise that we had to lasso a server and tell them what to do (plates, forks, more plates). Then out came jerk-rubbed and smoky chicken wings with a pineapple dip that rocked even the Venetian countess. She tucked into the onion straw fries - greasy (and why not?) and potentially addictive. Warned that the housemade poppers were peppery hot, she gingerly took just a half. “Not so hot,” she said, helping herself to the other half. Meanwhile, we three barbecue-hounds cannot quite believe how good it (mostly) all is - the pulled-pork sandwich, the juicy St.-Louis–style ribs (not too sweet, not too soft, not too chewy), even the coleslaw. I must admit, we are so obsessed with the classic essentials, we don’t get to the gumbo or the chicken-fried steak or slow-smoked mu-shu pork. Buffalo short ribs should have been juicier, but we’re wild for the racy cheese grits underneath that easily outclass the fries. And smoked-brisket Texas chili is a divine swamp of goodness. Beer is what goes with this grub, especially since this is a Heartland Brewery seedling. Look for the flying pigs at the front door.

127 West 43rd Street near Sixth Avenue. 212 575 5848



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