Rustic Barbecue With a City Twist
Dave Sanders for The New York Times
Published: May 13, 2010
THOUGH it has made strides in recent years, New York hardly qualifies as a barbecue Mecca on the order of, say, Kansas City or Memphis. Still, New York was the namesake chosen by the five co-owners of Big Apple BBQ, who include the executive chef, Roy Bruce, formerly of Rothmann’s Steakhouse in East Norwich. The rustic spot in Glen Cove opened in April in the quarters that were last home to Wild Harvest.
Dave Sanders for The New York Times
The restaurant has a split personality: half backwoods rusticity, half big-city good looks. The major components of the décor are left over from the previous occupants: an upside-down canoe over the bar, antler chandeliers, rough-hewn tables and chairs, a stone fireplace, wide-plank wood floors and a mounted moose head.
New York City is represented by sophisticated black and white photographs of the Chrysler Building, the Statue of Liberty and the Flatiron Building. Huge televisions are overhead, and the bar, though rustic, is backlighted with flashing colored lights.
Big Apple BBQ is child-friendly. There’s a children’s menu ($7.95 includes a choice of six entrees, a side dish, dessert and a beverage). The dining room is so loud your children won’t disturb anyone. And the décor will keep them amused: A toddler at the next table stared at the moose head through his whole meal.
Adults may not be as happy. The food is very uneven. One diner at our table was singing the praises of the ribs, while others were grousing about dry beef brisket and overcooked marinated skirt steak.
In general, the pork beat out the beef. The ribs, called monster ribs, were just that. The meat was tender to the point of falling off the bone. Pulled pork, though a bit stringy and dry, was also better than the beef selections.
The sandwiches got mixed reviews. I liked the devil dog, a giant Wagyu hot dog on a toasted bun, covered with chili and melted cheese. The juicy dog was even better on its own, once the toppings were scraped off. Avoid the barbecue meatloaf sandwich, which had a mushy texture and lots of filler.
Every meat entree comes with two sides, sandwiches with one. The best side dish was the large, crunchy onion rings. Other good selections included a refreshing cucumber-onion salad, creamy coleslaw and spicy shredded raw carrots.
Those choosing potato salad, macaroni and cheese, or French fries were disappointed. All were ordinary, especially the listless French fries; sweet potato fries were a better choice. Corn bread got mixed notices, with purists at our table complaining about its sweet cakelike texture, but I liked it. It was moist and studded with kernels of corn.
Appetizers were generally weak. The Caesar salad, while large, had a creamy rather than a classic dressing. The chopped salad with blue cheese dressing contained lots of iceberg lettuce and very little blue cheese.
Skip the onion soup, which contained chopped brisket and tasted like beef in thin gravy. The gumbo was a spirited, tasty brew with lots of andouille and chorizo but no discernible shrimp, which the menu mentioned as an ingredient.
Most of the food is down-home fare until dessert time. The sweets are brought in from Brooklyn and are strictly New York City-style, with offerings like an individual chocolate mousse cake, enrobed in chocolate, sitting on a plate drizzled with chocolate sauce. There was also a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and a citified strawberry shortcake with a base of white cake rather than the traditional biscuit. Though unexpected given the overall style of the food, the desserts were moist and appealing.
The menu at Big Apple BBQ can be a minefield. Though you might have a satisfying meal here with careful ordering, your dinner could easily be a dud.