I don't think that I can add much to what's been said here but when a place gets it right it's a cause to rejoice. I wasn't quite prepared for the uptown feel here and wondered aloud to my companions if this is a bit what Danny Meyer's rib joint on the upper East Side, Blue Smoke, feels like.
When I go to any BBQ place I always think that to get the rib/chicken combo rather obligatory but I'm glad I was talked into it. At $18, the chicken is very good and so are the St. Louis spares. I concur with the fried mac 'n cheese. It's like the perfect Paula Dean post Thanksgiving invention. What's not to like? The collard greens are probably the best I've had with great spice and flavor. The tiny corn muffins that come at the top are that rare creation of flavor and moistness that almost always allude others and the La Brea bakery bread tastes as good here as it does at Campanile which I've never experienced in any other restaurant.
The surprise is in the creativity of the starters: delicious duck spring rolls with a luxurious cherry compote and a nice Thai calamari with cole slaw. One friend tried the newly added 'Cajon' Stew for $21 with generous amounts of crayfish, shrimp, fish, rice, greens, tasso and lots of punch. The other ordered the special Salmon, lightly spiced in a wonderful buttery nage.
Dessert was a homey sticky toffee pudding cake with creme fraiche and the wine list seemed to have some affordable and interesting choices. We were, however, treated to a Ridge Geyserville 2002 zin which, well, dwarfed the competition which was a bit unfair but we're not complaining.
Service was confident and hospitable and then there was the crowd. Critics and chefs and Hounds, oh my. Thanks, Carter, for a great rec.