Theatre District, New York City, NY
Review by MaceVindaloo, Diana, Diasala
Well ... actually it wasn't snowing, but it was night, and it was Broadway. We had just been to see the One Man Star Wars, and we were riding high on the residue of whatever drug he was taking to maintain that energy for his show (where he performs the original trilogy in an hour all by himself, sound effects and all) and had the munchies. We headed out toward Times Square and came upon a place that understands the "holy trinity" of American food: grease, dough and sugar. BBQ provides all three, and the place was called Spanky's (which did give us some pause, admittedly).
The restaurant is just off of Broadway in a space that might've been some converted warehousing space, perhaps, and is decorated as you would expect a pit smokehouse should be. I am sure you all know what I mean "down home" but less grimy. But it's Broadway, where nothing is as it seems, so best be cautious ...
The "pit" is actually located just inside the door, and it's maybe designed to be a little scary for some people who are not accustomed to seeing huge slabs of meat being tossed around. In general it was warm-feeling and lively. The bright red walls, industrial style lighting, and murals of pigs was nicely conducive to a better dining experience, we thought!
In recent years, BBQ joints have proliferated in NYC, in a form that might be called "urban barbecue." Some like Pearson's Texas Barbeque and Blue Smoke are very good, but there are others that are not so stellar. Spanky's lies somewhere in the middle ... not terrible, but not stellar. Despite the presence of a "pit," this place seems to lack a pitmaster. Having a pitmaster versus not having one is like growing up with a loving mama, versus growing up in an orphanage!
We tried to order a large sampling of what they offered, but it was après-show and late ... but we were still oinkers because the platters were HUGE, in that BBQ-type of tradition. We got corn bread, nachos and chilli as appetizers. For mains we got a pulled pork sandwich and fries, ribs, and a combo plate, which included ribs, BBQ chicken, smoked kielbasa, and pulled pork, along with a selection of "sides."
All the food we tried was good, but lacked some factor to it. The chili was good, but they only gave us like 6 corn chips, nowhere near enough to dip and chew ... maybe I looked fat and they wanted to put me on a diet... The ribs and pulled pork were done well, smoky with a good complementing sauce. Ribs came with cheese grits and sweet potatoes as sides, and both were very good. The chicken was a little dry, but breast meat is often done like that, and a lot of people like it that way ... but not me.
Portion sizes were enormous, so we ended up taking a lot of stuff home with us. The curse, or good fortune of trying a new place and ordering a "representative" selection from the menu. Leftovers for lunch anyone (since they'd feed another 10 people)?
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