It was a slow day, so I decided to go out and try Daisy Mays. Of course, as we know, we shouldnt judge a restaurant when it is newly opened and has just been written up in the NY Times. That being said, let me judge it.
The place is supposed to open at 11am. But when I got there a little after, the lights were off. So, after reading for a bit on the benches by the Intrepid, I came back at noon. It was full, but not crazy: no lines out the door. They obviously were a little overwhelmed by the Times crowd, though.
There is one long counter and some space in front of it. After placing your order on a short line, you squeeze to the side and wait for your number to be called. One lady, who had placed an order for eight from her office, spent an hour waiting. I got my order in twenty minutes. Orders seemed to get juggled in the system depending on size and entrees. There was the expected crowd of NY Times readers blabbing loudly on their cel phones and trying to get the counter-folks to process their order before others. There also were folks who work in the neighborhood.
Behind the counter are two register-people, friendly and efficient, and three manager/owner types trying to keep things moving with a smile. Then there are two guys dishing-out the sides, and one lone man to pack-up every order. Needless to say, in an establishment with no seats, and only take-out orders, its imprudent to have one man at the bottleneck. The dishing-out guys and the packing-up guy dont speak English that well, which led to a lot of Abbot&Costello banter between them and the disgruntled customers. When I got my order with substitutions (by this time, an hour open, they had run out of corn bread, water and their featured iced tea in mason jars) and it was handed to me, I asked the guy if there were utensils, knife and fork, in the bag. He said, yes. Then I checked. No utensils. After asking, explaining, and finally pantomiming to the pack-up guy, I got what I needed. The counter people and manager-types were stepping-in to personally correct messed-up orders. Everybody there was friendly and meant well--Im sure this will get ironed out.
On to the food. The menu features a number of entrees, all $8, and many sides, all $3. They have a Plate Special, where for $10 you get an entree, two sides, and a soda. I think a BBQ place should be judged first and last by ribs (which Daisy May has three varieties of, wet and dry). Nevertheless, I got the Plate Special with the pulled-pork sandwich. (The prospect of picking-over bones with sticky fingers on the benches by the Intrepid, pigeons looking-on, was too much for a summer day). The bun was good, not doughy, chewy or hard--a sedate backdrop for the meat. The meat had a full spectrum of texture, from crunchy to tender, showcasing the character of the pork--instead of the anonymous shredded protein you get at some places. The sauce had a mustard tang, not noticeable every bite, but coming to the foreground occasionally to round out the taste. On top was a dollop of creamy cole slaw, which I liked. Eight dollars if purchased solo, I think the sandwich is right up there with other great fast food sandwiches, like the steak sandwich at the little place on Bleeker.
My two sides were baked beans and (because they were out of corn bread) creamed spinach. The beans were smoky with bits of meat. They were better than average, but too sweet for my taste--some people might like it precisely for that reason. The creamed spinach, surprisingly, was excellent. Very understated, not over-rich, and not over-chopped up to a puree--heads above that cream-heavy mess they serve in most expensive steak houses.
Overall, I liked the place a lot. The menu has many things that look interesting--making it a good choice for a large group, so everybody can try something. I cant see myself going often, though, because of the out-of-the-way location and lack of a seating area.