Many, many years ago, a chef friend of mine told me that he would never want me to eat in his restaurant as I'm very picky about food. When I told another friend that I was going to become a Certified Barbeque Judge, he asked me why and I said that I would judge the food anyway, so I might as well be official. He agreed with that logic.
When I cook, I am very critical of my work. Dishes that I thought tasted like shit, people rave about. It takes a lot to impress me in a food dish. When I eat out, I am very analytical about the food. If a restaurant, bakery, deli, etc. is said to have the "best" or "great" food, it better live up to it. If you're charging a lot of money, the food and the service better be incredible. The restaurant workers - they're professionals. They should deliver on the promise. If you're a home cook and feed me, your food is the best I've ever tasted. I will never criticize an amateur chef.
A while back, I did a review of Dinosaur BBQ up in Harlem. If you remember, I wasn't too thrilled with it. Of all the real BBQ restaurants in NYC, which there aren't many, it's my least favorite. I got a lot of shit about my review from Dinosaur's fans. But, now I am vindicated. Some NY newspapers have reviewed Dinosaur and they agree with me. Dinosaur needs a lot of work.
Here's the links....
THE NY POST - Barbecue not quite DINO-MIGHT
THE VILLAGE VOICE - Hatchet Job
Searching in vain for signs of hardwood in Manhattanville
THE NEW YORK PRESS - Ribs So Good You'll Slap Yo' Pappy? -
The mixed blessing of authentic BBQ
THE NY TIMES - Syracuse Barbecue Rides Into Harlem
The Times article requires a subscription, so here's an excerpt... "But there will be no pappy slapping in Harlem, at least when it comes to the food at Dinosaur. Rather than a heady combination of smoke, fat and spice, the defining flavor profile is sweet. The cornbread, so dry it crumbles if you look at it wrong, is topped with a honey glaze. The baked beans ooze sugar. Even a bowl of chili ($6.95), topped with bland Cheddar cheese and onions and served with tortilla chips as a dip, is more sweet than spicy.
And then there's the sauce, which wets all the meat and is available in a bottle on the table. It tastes sweeter than Heinz ketchup. We know because we did a side-by-side comparison. A zippier version, Wango Tango habanero sauce, is certainly hot, but heat is its only characteristic.
The meat comes from big, black computerized smoking pits in a back room, vented to high heaven and fueled with a mix of apple and hickory woods. But the mix of technology and wood isn't working. The Texas brisket ($13.50) tasted so much like deli-sliced roast beef that the Texan in our group almost wept. On two visits, the pork ribs ($13.95, $17.95 or $20.95) were nearly void of pork flavor and so overcooked that the meat came clean off the bone in one chunk. A third visit last week brought a better version, greatly cheering two Syracuse University alums who lived on them in college."
Why am I spending so much time on Dinosaur BBQ? To date, I have received over 357 emails about my review of Dinosaur. Normally, that would be great; I love arguing over food and politics. I didn't know that this blog had that type of reach. But the vast majority of this email crap has been filled with personal attacks and threats. C'mon folks, it's only a shitty little restaurant and it seems, I'm not the only one with that opinion. Move on.