A BBQ Review, from Sam Humbert

October 6, 2006 |

Daisy May's BBQ USA | 623 11th Ave | At 46th St

Daisy May's is, according to Zagat's (as quoted by the restaurant) the "Best BBQ in New York City," and proprietor Adam Perry Lang has appeared on Oprah, in the NY Times, etc. He originally sold BBQ from a pushcart, and, in the spirit of a Yiddish folktale, did well enough to open his own store!

We stumbled on it by serendipity, but would have sought it out anyway, "had I known" it had such a pedigree.

The food is good, in general, but expensive'ish. Mr. Lang eyeballed my family and graciously selected about the right amount of food for the four of us, saving my having to order item-by-item.

The brisket was excellent, and the chicken was good, though the pulled-pork sandwich was loaded with slaw that blended with the pork into a sloppy, and not so appealing, amalgamation. The sides were the strongest point, creative and well-prepared.

But I am not sure about the whole Gestalt. In my NYC years, BBQ was about kitsch. I think of places like the divey Brothers BBQ in Greenwich Village (before it moved to a bigger, airier space) where the food was an afterthought. BBQ is an immigrant cuisine in NYC: comfort food for homesick "immigrants" from the heartland who have come to the Big City to grab their main chance. It that sense, it is like Indian or Korean or Puerto Rican food.

But Daisy May is earnest, not kitsch. Mr. Lang is proudly a "Daniel Boulud-trained chef" (!?) and uses ingredients like sel-de-mer (?!) in his cooking. And given his earnestness, the food should somehow, maybe, be better than it is.

The atmosphere was picnic tables in a high-ceilinged room with big-screen TVs overhead tuned to Country Music Television — the night I visited, a NASCAR retrospective. But NASCAR on the TV is no substitute for real NASCAR chatter in the dining room, and there was none among the grab bag of hipsters, families, tourists in attendance. Ersatz, yes, but not kitsch. Somewhere in no man's land.

J.T. Holley adds:

My family has a pet hermit crab and we utilize sel-de-mer for its sustainability. Flip upside down its shell, fill it with water, mix in a little sea salt and it is like cat nip for the old Pincher. It is good to use near and after the molting process.

Also, I forgot the name of the establishment but the BBQ was fair to middling at some joint near Broadway. The cornbread was made with a touch of sour cream, which is one of my favorites.


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