Monday, April 28, 2008
The HowfreshEats NYC BBQ tour motors on. This time stopping off at the brand spanking new Wildwood BBQ on 18th St. and Park Ave. South. When I say just opened, I mean it opened Thursday the 24th and we were there on the 25th. It's seldom I hit a spot so early after their launch, mostly to let the restaurant sort out the kinks, but I made an exception here. "Big Lou" Elrose formerly the Pit Master at Hill Country mans the Wildwood pit, so I had confidence the food would be up to snuff. I can deal with shitty service as long as the food provides smiles. And the smiles came.
2 things need to be explained. First- I was a little biased off the bat since the Nike Wildwood is one of my favorite sneakers. You know I had to rock a crisp pair of Wildwoods to Wildwood. It's almost the perfect sneaker. Real smooth with a stream lined design. Not too many panels and always colored the right way. Originally released in 1989 as part of the ACG (All Conditions Gear) line, made for rough terrain with a sharp sporty look. Just hearing the word wildwood makes me think of some fresh kicks and conjures up images of some dope colorways and puts me in a good mood. On a side note, I heard that Nike will be releasing some new colorways of the Wildwood later this year, something that absolutely warrants its own post-(soon, very soon).
Issue number 2 was that Passover was still in effect and I told myself and the dining team that I wouldn't be eating pork, or any chametz items. That would include mac and cheese, cornbread, beans, beer, etc. I figured between the beef items and chicken I'd be straight. I really toiled over this but figured I'd still be able to enjoy the menu without compromising. We had an 8:30 pm reservation, and my internal pact lasted till 8:15. At a bar around the corner I ordered a spiked lemonade- thinking I was doing my duty and not drinking a beer- but found out shortly after the first sip that the "spike" was Jack Daniels which is made from barley and other grains. I was crushed. At that point I said fuck it and went all in. Bread was still off limits.
Wildwood is a large restaurant. And we had a tiny table. Especially with all the food we had. Be sure to reserve a booth if you have a party of 4. When you enter the industrial rustic interior, the right side is tables and the left side has a long bar. Bar looked nice with several flat screens. Apparently black screens are what's hot. No Yankee game?? Even trendy folk like the Yankees. The back has an open area with more tables. This location has housed several other restaurants, most recently Barca 18.
The 3 of us bypassed appetizers and dove right into the pit. Straight carnivore shit. We ordered the brisket, beef rib, memphis style baby back ribs, and the 3 pigs platter consisting of pulled pork, half a rack of spare ribs and a texas style smoked sausage. Sides included creamed spinach, cole slaw, baked beans with burnt ends, sweet potato fries and corned bread.
Brisket was my primary focus. It didn't disappoint. Thinly sliced with a nice line of fat in the middle. Very moist and tender. It had a dark crust with a perfect smoke outline. The fat was buttery and complemented the meat perfectly. My only complaint was that there wasn't enough.
Next up was the beef rib. I admit, I was hating a little. I'm partial to my girl Daisy May, and figured her Oklahoma jumbo rib couldn't be topped. It's not really fair to compare, but that's life. The glaring difference in appearance was that the Wildwood rib looked as if it was cut from a rack after it was cooked. The crust was on 2 sides with the other side showing the meat ready to fall off the bone. It was damn good. Enough fat marbled in to provide that saltiness with the sweet beef. Seriously, when will beef ribs become available EVERYWHERE?
The baby back ribs were a slight disappointment. I'm used to baby backs being super tender, and these weren't. The Memphis dry rub gave the ribs too much of a crust, thus making them difficult to pull apart. You needed a knife to separate each rib, as opposed to pulling them apart with your fingers. They tasted good, but the meat should have been softer. My most recent baby back experience was at Georgia's, and those were much better.
The 3 pigs platter was an overall success. The pulled pork had a nice smoky taste, and with a little bbq sauce did the job. The sausage was delicious. We chose the texas style smoked version and not the one with jalapeno. The meat had a nice smoke flavor in a tough casing. Next time I'll try the jalapeno. The spare ribs were cool. A lot of meat, but not as much flavor as I expected. I'd skip these next time.
None of the sides were standouts, except for the sweet potato fries which were surprisingly delicious. A crisp shell with the soft sweet potato was almost a dessert in itself. It should be noted that the side portions were tiny.
We murdered that shit.
When dining with Buck aka Buckemdown the commenter extraordinarie, the meal isn't complete without dessert. So the gluttony continued. We ordered the Fluffernutter S'mores and a Bourbon Banana ice cream sundae with vanilla ice cream. Shit was a perfect way to end the meal, though I was pretty confident I'd url before we hit the car. It was a false alarm, but I was still full Saturday morning.
The entire meal including a pitcher of Brooklyn Pilsner with tip came out to around $150. Not cheap for BBQ, but not necessarily excessive, especially with the amount of food that was ordered. Next time I know what to play with. The place is pretty loud and there were some celebrity spottings. A little bourgie, but fuck it, good BBQ is good BBQ.
225 Park Ave South at 18th St
New York, NY 10003
Website- Sort Of