I know others have chimed in, but I wanted to start a new thread and do it bulletpoint style.
- I really like the style of the place. Very homey and relaxing. Seating is first come, first eat at sturdy, wooden, family-sized picnic tables inside and on the front patio. You share tables with whoever, so it's not a place if you're shy. By the same token, the two men next to us were in deep conversation and they didn't bother us and vice-versa. No loud music, just a fake fire place (they pull it off), the wonderful smell of meat cooking and the sound of people actually participating in conversations.
- You order food from the counter and wait for it (we waited all of five minutes total, including time in line). The "meat cutter" was very affable and all of the people working at the counter were very nice when my friend and I asked silly questions and cracked stupid jokes ("This guy," I said pointing at the meat cutter, "is the most important man in my life right now."). The gentleman busing tables was also exceptionally nice.
- The menu is fairly simple: Main courses were pork ribs, pulled pork, beef ribs, pulled beef, brisket, pigs tails, pork sausage, flank steak, pork belly bacon and pulled lamb. Sides are baked beans, German potato salad, broccoli salad, sour pickles and a few other things I can't remember.
- The bar has a wonderful assortment of bourbon, rye and whiskey. Prices were about what I would expect ($6 and up) and whoever stocked the bar knows their stuff (no surprise there). They had about eight to ten beers on tap and they serve in half-pint, pint, half-gallon and gallon portions. The little ones are in mason jars and the big ones, obviously meant to be drank by a party of at least two, are in old-fashioned jugs. Pints were $4 to $6, and the selection was nice and obviously meant to go with the food. I wouldn't say that I was a big fan of a lot of the beers, but I was more than happy to knock back a few knowing that I could go across the street to Spuyten Duyvil for a nightcap. I do wish they'd can the Brooklyn Pilsner as the "cheap" option because I think Brooklyn Brewery makes some of the worst beer in America (sorry, I do!). They had a small assortment of wine, but I know nothing about grapes.
- My friend and I split a half-rack of pork ribs and half-pound of brisket, plus German potato salad, broccoli salad, sour pickles and something else I can't remember.
-- The meat was very flavorable, fell off the bone and had a nice rub. I thought it was just moist enough. And there was really not much fat on it. I know a few other people complained about the fat, so maybe those complaints were heard (of course, our meat choices didn't lend themselves to be very fatty). The barbecue sauce was spicy with a nice finish, though I think I missed out some additional sauce options.
-- The sides were actually quite disappointing. Flavorless and sort of dry. A tangy vinegar-based cole slaw would be a nice addition, and some better bread is needed (each person gets a potato roll with the food). I agree with what someone else, this place is not for vegetarians. And you know what? That's fine, because they're communists anyway (I'm just kidding!). The absence of mac-and-cheese was actually a pleasant surprise. I'm tired of that option and most places don't do it very well. I would have loved to have some green been though.
-- The dessert menu was spare and we didn't bother. I'd suggest adding a couple of nice pies and some old fashion ice cream for the summer. It is entirely possible that I actually missed some dessert options as the meat simply enthralled me.
- Excluding the beers, our dinner was $30.25 (plus the $5 tip we gave at the counter) and we had food left over. We had a total of four beers, which tacked another $24 (tip included) onto our expenses. Next time, I'll ignore the sides, except the pickles, and stick with the meat. That would knock about $8 to $10 off the total.
All in all, I was very pleased with the meal and I will definitely be returning sooner rather later. What I enjoyed most was the atmosphere, which fostered a long dining experience.
There were no waiters in your face trying to hustle you out, and no snotty employees to spoil the experience. My friend and I relaxed at the table with a beer for 20 minutes before we even bothered looking at the menu (we were high on the smell by this time). We then ate a nice pace (somewhat amazing for both of us), and finished by picking at the food and sipping our beers for about 40 minutes.
I really have to say that I appreciate people who understand the concept of service, knowledge (in terms of food and beverage) and atmosphere. Considering the owners, it's not a surprise. I felt like the people working at the restaurant wanted me to enjoy my meal and just let me be. This is something that does not happen enough in NYC.