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Apr 12, 2007 12:19 AM

R.U.B. R.E.P.O.R.T

First time visit revealed a friendly, casual, and (if you go late after the crowd thins)comfortable environment. The big screens were thankfully on subtitled silent mode...

We sat at the bar and started with an order of pathetic synthetic cornbread - several wan rectangles like something out of a bad high school cafeteria.

The Abita on tap was good, but what's with the plastic cups? This isn't Smitty's in Lockhart, Texas, after all. In Manhattan, plastic drinking mugs is an annoying affectation.

Now to the main courses: My buddy got the Chicken, I got the Burnt Ends ( a Chowhound favorite, apparently), and we split a half-rack of Baby Back's. He said the chicken was delicious and juicy and not overly smoky. My burnt ends were pretty much a disaster. Again, invoking Smitty's - which is my benchmark for perfect brisket barbecue: succulent and deeply and subtly flavorrful and soulful - these ends were tough and tasteless and contravened my one overriding rule regarding the ingestion of meat: If I'm going to eat meat - and especially if I'm going to eat a lot of meat - it better be damn good, both in texture and taste.

The barbecued beans were more or less great, and the potato salad was well above par in its chunky, lightly dressed simplicity. The greens - a mixture of collards, mustard and something - were overprocessed, mushy and watery.

Oh, I almost forgot, the baby back ribs were a neat, petite, delight.

Overall, the place does not suck, nor does it compel an quick return.

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  1. Its funny you should mention the burnt ends being lackluster. The last time I was there, I had the same impression. When I was there a year ago, they were pure heaven, now, its more like hit and miss.

    2 Replies
      1. re: Scott V

        Ditto. The Burnt Ends was the worst of what my friends and I ordered....dry and tasteless.

    1. I went to RUB with a large group on Saturday and thought it was fabulous, much better than when I first tried it approximately one year before. We had burnt ends, which were moist and delicious, the ribs, which were very very good. The beans were possibly the best I've ever had, and I have to make a plug for the BBQ chicken wings, which were available as a special. They are definitely up there with best wings ever. And I ordered beer in a bottle, so no plastic cup to deal with. Our waitress was friendly and attentive. I am definitely looking forward to my next trip!

      1. Not everyone in manhattan has been to Smittys in Texas. How does it compare against other BBQ restaurants here in the city? and can you recommend a better place than R.U.B? I love bbq and I admit the best ribs I had was in houston texas.

        2 Replies
        1. re: csw

          For my money (and travel time), Dinosaur BBQ has the best ribs. I used to go to the Syracuse location all the time, and the ribs at the NYC one are just as good.

          Cornbread lags behind, though.

          1. re: jakew8

            Love the Dinosaur.
            R.U.B. is more hit and miss now then it was a year ago, paticularly with the Burnt ends.

        2. agreed on the burnt ends...they have deteriorated in quality over the last year. sometimes dry, sometimes overtly fatty that you have to throw away some pieces.

          i think dinosaur may have taken over as best bbq in nyc.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sam1

            I tried RUB last August and also found the burnt ends to be fatty. I thought the atmosphere was kind of lacking, too, and I haven't been back.

            I adore Dinosaur, though, both for the meat and the Syracuse Salt Potatoes. Yum!!!


          2. Sorry Guys, but RUB is definitely one of the top two BBQ restaurants in NYC. The other is Daisy May's.

            Stop looking for the microwaved, boiled, steam, drenched in Kraft BBQ sauce que. As a certified KCBS BBQ judge and a competitor, I'm telling you, those guys know their stuff.

            8 Replies
            1. re: BrooklynQ

              BrooklynQ, where does Dinosaur and Blue Smoke fit into the ratings? TIA

              1. re: BrooklynQ

                Strong words for a first-timer, BQ!

                Could you elaborate on why you think that RUB and DM's are "definitely" the top two? Sort of a "judge's scorecard" if you will.

                1. re: jakew8

                  Sorry if the words are strong, I don't mean to offend, but barbecue is one of my passions.

                  Judging BBQ you base your opinions on appearance, taste and tenderness. The food should look good and make you want to eat it as soon as it appears. Tenderness means that the meat should be tender, not mushy and certainly not failing off the bone or mushy.

                  Taste is the most subjective of all. I can't explain it exactly, but bbq should taste like BBQ. RUB uses a very traditional and good dry rub on most of it's que. (I'm not talking about the bacon, peking duck or pastrami) Daisy May's varies it's spices and seasonings from dish to dish, but they all taste like BBQ. You should taste the smoke, but it shouldn't be overpowering or the dominant flavor. And most importantly good BBQ allows you to taste the meat, not just the spices or sauce.

                  As for the rest of NYC's bbq places? I like Blue Smoke alot. It's really the only NY bbq place in NYC. By that I mean, when you eat at Blue Smoke, you know you've eaten in a New York City restaurant. Daisy Mays or RUB could be anywhere, there's nothing that says NYC about them. I've never left Blue Smoke unsatisfied.

                  Dinosaur I haven't been to in a long time, but every time I have I've not been impressed. People keep telling me its good, but I haven't found it. Last time I was there I was served burnt food.

                  I think the Waterfront Ale House in Brooklyn is often over looked and IMHO is easily one of the top 5 in NYC. (Try their pulled pork)

                  And if you're really brave go try out Front Street in Elizabeth.

                  1. re: BrooklynQ

                    There is a Waterfront Ale House in Manhattan on 30th and 2nd. I agree that the pulled pork is great, especially after topping it off with Sam's Famous Hot Sauce, which in and of itself is one of my favorite hot sauces.

                    1. re: BrooklynQ

                      One of the great things about bbq is that it really is different region to region and joint to joint. I agree entirely w/ BQ about the criteria to look for with good bbq-- a rib that bites cleanly in one spot, tender and juicy without the whole strip of meat coming off in one bite. Though, many people who are not as 'purist' like their 'que 'falling off the bone.'

                      Some people like sweet, some like heat. Some want their ribs with sauce, and some want them dry with an extra sprinkle of rub.

                      On most any day Daisy May's, RUB, Blue Smoke, and Dinosaur can all turn out pretty 'authentic' barbecue, but they just might not appeal to everyone.

                      1. re: BrooklynQ

                        Which ribs at Blue Smoke are your favorite (and why)? I'm just getting "in" to bbq. Thanks.

                        1. re: ellenost

                          I like the cut they use for the Kansas City style ribs there, as I recall. But ask for them unsauced, which usually confuses the waitron. Their ribs are mopped as they cook which is fine, but right before they are served they put on a glaze/sauce. I like them without it. But, if you like sweet and sticky, then have at it and ignore what I just said.

                          While babybacks are usually more popular, I think spareribs have more flavor and more meat.