Thrillist's Barbecue & The Blues: Certainly a Thrill
The most beautiful example of alliteration in the English language is quite possibly "blues, brews and barbecue." True to the sponsor's name, Friday night's New York Wine & Food Festival event was a thriller.
Unlike the annual Big Apple BBQ Festival, there were no signs or giant smokers outside the Hudson Hotel to indicate that inside was a gathering of the top purveyors of NYC-style BBQ, which never would have evolved in the first place had it not been for the Big Apple BBQ Festival. Only a single solitary torch outside gave any hint to the smokey flame kissed goodness that awaited inside The Units club in the sub-basement.
A dark two floor space encircled by a terrace where the live band performed New Orleans style blues to set the mood was the perfect setting, as we were greeted by our muscular Food Network host/bouncer Robert Irvine of Restaurant/Dinner Impossible fame, who provided a 3 meat cannelloni which was the most unique offering of the evening. He also provided the best tailgate snack: giant bowls of football sized pig skins.
Three of NYC's newest pitmasters, each a contender to steal the national best BBQ crown away from Texas, competed head to head for my attention: Matt Fisher of Fletcher's, Hugh Magnum of Mighty Quinn, and the inimitable Daniel Delaney, who with BrisketTown has transformed NYC's nickname from the Big Apple to Brisket Town.
Martin's potato rolls looked like they were going to earn their full year's profits as 75% of the vendors were doing brisket sliders. Due to the inherent space limitations, neither Fisher, Magnum or even Delaney could bring their "A" games. Delaney's chopped brisket didn’t give the full flavor profile of sliced fatty and Fisher tried to distinguish himself by doing tri-tip. Quinn's was still mighty good, though.
Jeepney showed its Filipino style BBQ with rare sliced beef and Asian noodles while the Jewish cowboys from Mile End substituted (what else?) tongue for brisket. Mabel's Smokehouse won most clever presentation with "Smo-Cones"-pulled pork with BBQ sauce served in paper cones.
The hands- down best plate of the night was Ducks Eatery’s chef and mad genius Will Horowitz's Smokey Offal Sloppy Joe sandwich made from beef hearts, tripe, and assorted other goodies they wouldn't think of eating in Texas. Now that's NYC BBQ!