Magazine article The New Yorker

Rack & Soul

Magazine article The New Yorker

Rack & Soul

Article excerpt

2818 Broadway, at 109th St. (212-222-4800)Danny Meyer imported a pair of Missouri pit smokers for his barbecue restaurant, Blue Smoke, in 2002; since then, pit smokers have become practically de rigueur for new barbecue restaurants. In February, John Wheeler, of the Mississippi barbecue team Natural Born Grillers, hauled a twenty-seven-hundred-pound specimen from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to Morningside Heightssite of this new spot, a collaboration between Michael Eberstadt, owner of Slice of Harlem and the late Bayou, and Charles Gabriel, of Charles' Southern Style Kitchen, at 151st Street (Wheeler is the honorary "BBQ Pit Master"). The walls are covered with old photos of uptown street scenes, selected by the Harlem preservationist Michael Henry Adams; even so, Gabriel calls Rack & Soul his "downtown" place.

It's not haute barbecue: Blue Smoke's gazpacho and chilled beets are nowhere to be found. Instead, each table gets a basket of biscuits, the insides heavy with butter, the outsides crusted with honey. Unlike Gabriel's other place, there is wine here, but it is served almost ambivalently, in small water glasses. Sweet tea and Abita beer, from Louisiana, go better with the main events: barbecue and fried chicken. …

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