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landarc
06-01-2010, 08:41 PM
I would say that I did not have a good experience at Baby Blue's BBQ. They had somehow misjudged the timing of meat for Memorial Day, so they were out of chicken, regular ribs, hamburgers, beans, Memphis style ribs, potato salad etc... I do not consider this a reasonable excuse. The waitress was telling everyone that they take a full 8 hours to prepare ribs, brisket and pulled pork, so when they ran out of items, it would take a day to replace them. It does seem to me that someone could have fired up the smoker at midnight and set the place up.

The brisket was supposed to be smoked and cooked with Guinness, it turns out it is braised in Guinness and then shredded. It is not BBQ, I do not care if you did it in a pit and it took 8 hours (BTW, if you braise something for 8 hours, it is overdone) if you cook something in a pan, half-covered with ale, and it has NO smoke flavor, that is gonna disappoint. I did not think the amount of brisket was bad, if you like your brisket shredded and cooked in sauce, it would be fine. I am biased here, if you sell me brisket chopped into M&M sized bits or pulled into 4" long shreds, my take away is that you do not cook a good brisket.

After being told they had no ribs, they 'found' me some. Of course, there were three bones and they did taste good. But, of the three bones, only two had edible meat. Third was a 2 side shiner with inedible shards on the top. Flavor was good and the other two bones were good. They ribs had been cooked on either a flat top or grill though, as the texture of the surface was not like from a smoker.

The cole slaw and cornbread was tasty. I did not think the amount of food was acceptable as a $12 lunch special, three bones about as long as your average Smithfield babyback (but with way less meat) and a half cup of pulled brisket was not reasonable. Lemonade was good though.

BBQ Grail
06-01-2010, 08:43 PM
Here's my review (http://thebbqgrail.com/2010/06/01/singing-the-blues/)

Let me give you a teaser.
This was the brisket:
http://thebbqgrail.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Blues3.jpg

SmokeJumper
06-02-2010, 12:56 AM
That is disgraceful. I had turkey tidbits out of a stockpot and oven baked tater tots in elementary school that were closer to BBQ than that. What is up with those greens? It looks like an exploded golabki.

I'm usually proud to say I'm from San Francisco when talking to foodie friends but when it comes to BBQ it is a sad sad story here. I think somehow the SF demographic is simply ignorant of what real BBQ should be. I have had a handful of visiting friends from my graduate student days at University of Texas insist on trying the barbecue here and they have all be sorely disappointed.

Probably the only BBQ restaurant I would be comfortable sending friends to is Memphis Minnies. The pit master Bob Kantor, a former judge on the competition circuit, knows how to make decent BBQ.

East Bay is a different story. Are there any good BBQ restaurants in the Sacramento area Grail?

Gore
06-02-2010, 04:36 PM
$12 for lemonade is a bit steep. I hope they gave you refills.

deguerre
06-02-2010, 05:19 PM
Molassas corn cake? Whole collard leaves? I wonder how their "Memphis" style ribs are served now. Probably dry and at gunpoint?

landarc
06-02-2010, 06:02 PM
Well, 2 of the 3 were good. Of course, I have not had real Memphis ribs in Memphis so I can't tell you how authentic it is.

Smoke, as you know in SF, the object is to stand out and spin the food your way, tradition is mostly gone except for a few places and the old Chinese places. It is sad that some of the places don't just try to do regular old BBQ but do it well.

landarc
06-02-2010, 08:37 PM
$12 for lemonade is a bit steep. I hope they gave you refills.
Yes, I got one refill, it was that good.

SmokeJumper
06-02-2010, 08:55 PM
Smoke, as you know in SF, the object is to stand out and spin the food your way, tradition is mostly gone

I do greatly appreciate traditional BBQ. But those restaurants in San Francisco that do try to do the traditional thing usually are far from delivering the real deal.

That said, I would welcome good restaurants that put a spin on BBQ with open arms. All that is needed is some BBQ cooking basics and then with some good ideas and ingredients one could spin it and I would still consider it worthwhile BBQ. I could point to some absolutely brilliant isolated examples of BBQ dishes "with a spin" at Spanish, California Cuisine, and Fusion restaurants across the city. But no haute or hip BBQ restaurant manages to put it all together with any kind of quality food, coherent vision, or consistency.

BBQ Grail
06-02-2010, 09:03 PM
I do greatly appreciate traditional BBQ. But those restaurants in San Francisco that do try to do the traditional thing usually are far from delivering the real deal.

That said, I would welcome good restaurants that put a spin on BBQ with open arms. All that is needed is some BBQ cooking basics and then with some good ideas and ingredients one could spin it and I would still consider it worthwhile BBQ. I could point to some absolutely brilliant isolated examples of BBQ dishes "with a spin" at Spanish, California Cuisine, and Fusion restaurants across the city. But no haute or hip BBQ restaurant manages to put it all together with any kind of quality food, coherent vision, or consistency.

Would they serve souffle?

SmokeJumper
06-02-2010, 09:28 PM
Would they serve souffle?

Likely not. But definitely cherry glazed ribs, goetta, and jalepeno-stuffed pastrami.

landarc
06-02-2010, 10:52 PM
I also like when a place can take a traditional idea and spin it up. I like A16, very classic Italian cuisine from regions along the A16, but with a CA twist. Places like Gott's Roadside, Boulevard, Harris all do the classics with their own signature. But they hit the fundamentals first.

If someone wanted to do brisket sliders on brioche, with a wasabi mayo sauce and red slaw, fine, but get the brisket right first. Make it taste good.

Speaking of classics, done old style, I do need to get to Golden Gate Bakery for some dan tat, or maybe, I can make my own, hmmm...

SmokeJumper
06-03-2010, 04:22 AM
I like A16. Places like Gott's Roadside, Boulevard, Harris all do the classics with their own signature. But they hit the fundamentals first.


Wow, you nailed several of my favorites there. When I am on an expense account and working downtown I am a regular at Boulevard and not a stranger to Gott's. Another great choice for the occasional BBQ gem is coco 500.


Speaking of classics, done old style, I do need to get to Golden Gate Bakery for some dan tat, or maybe, I can make my own, hmmm...

Nothing can be yummier dan tat custard pie at Golden Gate Bakery. The benchmark for them all and one of my favorites! I did hear from a visiting aunt that the master baker died about a year back so it will be good to find out if that is actually true and if they have fallen from their lofty pinnacle since then. A debatable runner up has been the lung fung bakery on Clement and 20th-ish. They were always much cheaper too.

I have the old family recipe for this but to be honest, it can't best the top bakery versions. The crust was never up to snuff. At some point I might try to use it as a starting point and refine it using tricks I have learned from pastry classes and experimentation. Or maybe I'll just "borrow" your recipe when it hits your blog.

BBQ Grail
06-03-2010, 07:59 AM
It all sounds great. What I'd really like to do is a San Francisco "food cart" crawl.

SmokeJumper
06-03-2010, 11:48 AM
It all sounds great. What I'd really like to do is a San Francisco "food cart" crawl.

That sounds like a blast. I do that a least once a year in Portland, OR while visiting family as they have an incredible and expansive street cart scene there with ethnic, gourmet, and hearty eats. Check it out at: http://www.foodcartsportland.com/.

I wish there was an analogous website for San Francisco. Yelp is probably the best resource: http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=food+carts&find_loc=San+Francisco%2C+CA

San Francisco has some great carts but they are definitely more seasonal and decentralized. Perhaps the best way to go on a food cart odyssey in San Francisco is to attend one of the many street fairs. The SF street food fest in late August is a particularly good one.

SmokeJumper
06-03-2010, 11:52 AM
I like A16, very classic Italian cuisine from regions along the A16, but with a CA twist.

Speaking of, I thought the former chef Nate Appleman should have become the next iron chef instead of Jose Garces.

Last fall I went on a tour of Chicago restaurants and ate at Jose Garces restaurant and thought it was decent but it didn't knock me over.

landarc
06-03-2010, 05:03 PM
I liked Nate for that too, Nate does a great job. I would be up for a food cart crawl. I follow the food cart scene in Portland, but, not is SF.

landarc
06-03-2010, 05:06 PM
It has been over a year since I hit Golden Gate for dan tat, that would be a bummer if it is not up to their standards. We also hit Eastern bakery for bao. My nephew and niece, not from around here, thought it odd that Uncle Bob goes to two bakeries to get two different items that look identical.

SmokeJumper
06-04-2010, 11:56 AM
It has been over a year since I hit Golden Gate for dan tat, that would be a bummer if it is not up to their standards. We also hit Eastern bakery for bao. My nephew and niece, not from around here, thought it odd that Uncle Bob goes to two bakeries to get two different items that look identical.

That's funny. My Mom always dragged me from store to store to get different ingredients and foods sometimes only getting a single item from any given place. I totally get that and enjoy doing it myself when I have the time.

I like Eastern for the moon cakes and steamed lotus root buns. That place has been open since prohibition times.

landarc
06-04-2010, 12:10 PM
We should take BBQ Grail on a Chinatown crawl, forget the food carts. Too bad the place my dad would take us to get these huge won ton is gone. I think they called them waterdog dumpling, it was in a basement off of Grant.

BBQ Grail
06-04-2010, 01:28 PM
We should take BBQ Grail on a Chinatown crawl, forget the food carts. Too bad the place my dad would take us to get these huge won ton is gone. I think they called them waterdog dumpling, it was in a basement off of Grant.

Bring it on!!!!!

SmokeJumper
06-04-2010, 08:37 PM
Bring it on!!!!!

Chinatown Crawl. Battle Offal!

I think they called them waterdog dumpling, it was in a basement off of Grant.
I think those xtra large wontons are called "shui jiao" or 水餃. They are similar in construction to the dumplings on your blog landarc.

Water dog is a bastardization of the second word which sounds almost the same, shui gou or 水狗. I'm not sure if they did that as a joke, for a cool name to sell more dogs, or because of a dirty little secret (bark, bark). Probably all three. There are a version of these called "Rising Phoenix water dumplings" that are shaped liked coin purses. My gradfather made those on special occasions.

I know you hate travelogues but there was an Anthony Bourdain episode where he ate these in Singapore and thought they were the bomb. It was a great episode for pron.

My house Chinese is so bad I am ashamed of it but I guess it can come into handy sometimes for basic food etymology. My Mom always blamed my Swedish Dad's genes for that.

For nostalgia's sake I'm sure we can find you a good place for those again landarc.

BBQ Grail
06-04-2010, 08:51 PM
Chinatown Crawl. Battle Offal!

As long as they don't try and serve me Lima Beans...

Set it up...I'm in...

landarc
06-04-2010, 10:49 PM
Shui gao, or however it is spelled is it. Man, those were good. It was a special treat when we went over from the flower market to get those. We should get BBQ Grail some moon cake, don't those come with lima bean? Or the cheaper jin dui, with the yellow paste (hehe). Or Hung Tao Yee Won Ton, you can't beat fried won tons in gravy.

SmokeJumper
06-06-2010, 02:18 PM
Or Hung Tao Yee Won Ton, you can't beat fried won tons in gravy.

I'd like to try those. I've seen the fried ones put into wonton soup at a couple restaurants. Maybe I'll try frying some of the homemade wontons I have sitting the freezer for lunch. I'm still not hungry in the wake of WMBD.