Went to check out the new chelsea bbq restaurant R.U.B. yesterday for dinner. This restaurant is opened by Paul Kirk, a bbq expert from Kansas City, who participated in the Big Apple BBQ Block Party last summer.
It was their first day of operation and the usual expected service kinks were there (took 45 minutes to get food, friendly but forgetful waitress who did not know the menu at all, etc.). The restaurant was full, but there was no wait and we were seated right away at 9pm. It looked like the restaurant seats around 80-100 people.
I ordered the burnt ends (brisket tips) dinner ($17.95) and my two sides were vinegar-based coleslaw, and also the mayo-based cole slaw. My husband ordered the two meats platter with an extra order of 1/4 rack ribs on top (18.95). The two meats were sausage and pulled pork. His two sides were fries and bbq beans. We were also given their only dessert item, deep fried oreos (battered in funnel cake batter), for free as an apology for the long wait for the food we experienced. These were so soaked with grease as to be inedible; must have been fried at too low a temperature. Also available as bbq meats on the menu are brisket, chicken, turkey, ham, and "szechuan style bbq" duck. Additional available sides were "greens of the day", fried onion strings, and potato salad . They did not expect to have a liquor license for two weeks so it's byob currently.
The burnt ends were unexceptional in that very little smoke flavor was evident. Usually I don't need to add sauce to the burnt ends I've had in other bbq places, but this one really needed the sweet-smokey tomato based sauce provided on the table. The coleslaw was watery and a bit on the bland side, could have used more salt and pepper. The bbq sausage was dry, as was the pulled pork. Both lacked a good smoke flavor. The ribs were the only really decent item, moderatly smokey with a good pink smoke ring evident, although a little too much sauce was brushed over the ribs prior to serving. The bbq beans were quite good and smokey it a tad too sweet, and the fries were excellent- hot, crisp, with a nice seasoned salt sprinkled on top.
All in all, if the service speeds up, not a bad place to pop in the neigborhood for a taste of bbq ribs, but i wouldn't call it a destination spot if the lack of smokiness to the meats is a constant thing and not an opening week anomaly.
208 West 23rd (btw. 7th and 8th ave.)