You might say you’ve had enough barbecue. You might mention the countless ‘cue coverage in anticipation of Memorial Day weekend, and the Big Apple Barbecue that’s just around the corner.
But Our Man and I aren’t so easily distracted from fatty meat or fire. We are dedicated to these things! So this week, we have joined forces to review two new barbecue joints.
Our Man definitely got the better of this deal—he’s at Madangsui, a new “fashion-forward” Korean barbecue place on 35th Street. While Our Man is disappointed to find that the restaurant’s claim to be a wood-grilling establishment is an outright lie (the grills are gas) he finds plenty to enjoy:
Leader of the pack, and first thing on the barbecue menu, is saeng deung sim ($26.99). I hesitate to spoil the surprise, but this entrée turns out to be a prime boneless rib eye, glorious in its intact entirety and gorgeously marbled. Meat doesn’t get any pornier than that. Throw it on the grill, and smoke instantly snakes upward into the surreal ductwork. Take a last admiring look at the entire steak, because the waitress soon goes after it with scissors, cutting it into pieces that multiply the proportion of sizzling surface area.
On the other hand, I did not love Wildwood, which I found glib and sleek and very uneven. This BR Guest restaurant is setting itself up to be a chain what deals in all regional cue, from Texan brisket to Carolina pulled pork and everything in between.
That’s where Wildwood goes wrong. I’ve eaten barbecue around the country, and I’m here to tell you that just because a pitmaster makes great burnt ends in Kansas City doesn’t mean he knows how to make a fantastic smoked brisket in Texas. Each kind of barbecue represents generations of passed-down knowledge—and all the money in the world can’t buy that experience.
35 West 35th Street
225 Park Avenue South
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 28, 2008