225 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
Blue states and barbecue don't exactly go hand in hand. Sure, the city hosts a barbecue festival out of Madison Square Park every year, and Dinosaur up in Harlem is alleged to be able to give the NASCARites a run for their money, but overall barbecue in New York City is like pizza in Omaha. Half the time, you have to ask why we bother.
And such it was at Wildwood BBQ, BRGuest's Park Avenue foray into low-class food. Sports played on large TVs over the bar. Raw, aged wood beams lined the ceiling. The menu was plastered across chalk boards in the back. You almost expect the waitress to say "hi y'all!" and hand you Old Milwaukee in a glass jug just for showing up. Of course, at the end of the day you're still on Park Avenue and on the other side of the window a limo just dropped off a gaggle of girls who look like escorts on their way to a corporate party. I guess what I'm saying is that the illusion only runs so deep.
Anyway, Seth and I showed up the other evening and decided to put on fifty pounds. I don't know what was going through our heads to eat so much food. We started with the Wildwood Nachos. On the plate, it looked pretty small, but at a certain point, as you're carving through the mountain of chips, chili, cheddar cheese and sour cream, you realize that you're full and can barely move. All you can really do is drink more beer in the hopes that the liquid will aid your stomach in digesting it all.
Wildwood is a family style restaurant so your side dishes are extra. This adds to the bill and, despite pretending to be being blue-collar food, Wildwood isn't cheap. We ordered the Corn Bread, which was fine, the Cole Slaw, which was also fine, and the Carrot Raisin Slaw, which was, again, fine. None of them can I say a negative syllable about, though I also don't know that any of them were particularly amazing.
I ordered, because my eyes were clearly far bigger than my stomach, the Spicy Fried Chicken, which came with mashed potatoes, a biscuit and gravy. Uh, it was fantastic. The mashed potatoes were creamy, the biscuit was flakey, and the fried chicken had just enough crisp and tenderness to make me wonder why we also ordered a round of ribs. Plus, they were hot enough to clear your nose. This I can recommend! But then there were ribs also. Not just ribs, two racks of ribs. Seth and I got the Kansas City Baby Back Ribs, which come in a spicy chipotle barbecue sauce and the Sticky Ribs, which come in Wildwood's own sauce, which they describe as "sweet and tangy". Truth is that the main difference in taste was that the sticky ribs seemed to have more sauce than the Kansas City ones. Beyond that, both had a smokey sweet taste and were pretty much indistinguishable. Taste-wise I liked them. They were good. But hey. Meat grilled within an inch of its life covered in a sugar-based smoke sauce can hardly be bad. Mostly I was disappointed by the texture. I wanted the meat to run from the rib as though it thought the rib was having an affair. Boning someone else, as it were. But instead, meat and rib stood together like a good southern God-fearing couple. Sadly, this left for a somewhat dry meal. I spent more time than I care to admit fighting my food.
Having already decided that I was taking most of the food home in doggie bags, why not get some dessert, too? So while Seth stuck with a coffee, I grabbed a slice of Rhubarb Crisp. Rhubard is sweet and tangy and almost like raspberry. With a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, this might have been the best part of dinner. Next time, if there is one, I'll probably skip the barbecue and go straight to the fried chicken.
With tax and tip, our dinner (an appetizer, two racks of ribs, an entree, three sides, coffees and dessert, and I'm gonna guess a beer or three, broke $200.
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