Barbecue is not a mild-mannered cuisine. It's more of a "let's see how much meat I can cram inside my body" cuisine. But at Blue Smoke, Danny Meyer's barbecue and jazz joint, it's possible to grab a seat at the bar, eat a humanly sized meal of succulent ribs and well-executed sides, and get out without needing to be rolled home. You could still go the other route and stuff yourself until you can no longer walk, but that's not the Apps Only way.
We skipped the mostly pricey appetizers and started with an order of Hush Puppies from the sides menu. At $3.95 for seven pieces, they're one of the cheapest items on the menu, and a great start to a meal at Blue Smoke. A crisp crust gives way to a doughy inside--it could have been light and fluffier, but it avoided the rock hard insides that plague so many hush puppies around the city. A sweet-tangy-spicy jalapeño marmalade cut the sweetness, the perfect punchy dipping sauce.
For our "main course" we ordered Baked Pit Beans with Pork ($5.95) and a half rack of Texas Salt & Pepper Beef Ribs ($14.95). In the ribs, we found tender beef rubbed in salt and pepper and smoked to perfection; their gargantuan size called to mind the Flintstones. The two of us split three of them, and were more than satisfied. All of the ribs--Blue Smoke offers three kinds--are available in a half rack for this price, perfect if you're looking to sample the menu more widely. The beans were the perfect accompaniment: stewed in a thick tomato and pork based sauce, they were spicy and just sweet enough.
Blue Smoke is not cheap, but neither are most of the city's better barbecue specialists. Our meal was certainly not as expensive as I initially thought it would be: I showed up expecting to be just over my $15/person (before tax and tip) target price, but we ended up eating for just $25 for the two of us, or about $12.50/person. Whether or not Blue Smoke is New York's best barbecue joint is an entirely different question. But as it turns out, it's a fantastic place to grab a seat at the bar and have a light(ish) dinner.
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