Sorry if this is old news to most, but I haven't been there in a while, and Wes' Rib House in Olneyville (Providence) had it all for me: the out-of-place-ness (good Q? in New England?); the incredibly obscure and hard-to-find location (you really had to have someone take you there the first time); the Southern Q-joint styrofoam-plate, plastic-fork, cash-only ambiance; the "pit" right in your face when you walked in; and most importantly, people who clearly cared about the food and did it right. So, recently, when I had a hankering for ribs, we said "let's go to Wes'." Big mistake.
I should have taken some clue from the fact that the place was practically empty, or that the one visible waiter was so busy talking on his cell phone that it seemed like an imposition to get him to serve us. But hey, the food's always been good, I thought.
The debacle started when he brought out the battered-fried-sliced onion appetizer, mumbling something about how he'd be bringing another right away (we only ordered one). It was clear why he'd have to bring another, as the first was completely burned and dripping with oil -- inedible, and not in the figurative food-snobbish sense of the word, where something wasn't quite as delicious as everyone led you to believe and you act holier-than-thou, but in the literal, I-can't-even-bear-to-put-this-stuff-in-my-mouth-or-I'll-gag sense of the word. What was not at all clear to me was why he brought it out in the first place. I mean, make an excuse, tell the truth, say somebody screwed up, all are valid options. Putting something so bad nobody will even touch it out on the table and bringing a second attempt five minutes later, though -- who could possibly think that's a good plan? The second one wasn't burned, but they hadn't changed the oil in the Fryolator, either.
We should have left then, and I kick myself for not doing so. But I still wanted those ribs. At least until they were put in front of me. Charred black, not in the perhaps-overly-caramelized-sweet-barbeque-sauce way, but in the flash-cooked-over-a-grease-fire way. Very obvious problem with heat control, as the meat was tough and stringy, while burned on the outside. The ribs at any chain restaurant would have been twice as good. My son's chicken had nothing in common with "barbequed chicken", it was a dried-out grilled breast with some barbeque sauce slapped on. The beans were clearly from Sysco, as they were eerily similar to what's served in my company cafeteria at work (who thinks an overpowering cinnamon flavor is a good idea in baked beans, anyway?) The corn bread was yellow cotton. The only remotely passable item was the chopped Q, but by that point the whole thing was just depressing.
So long, Wes', it was great while it lasted.