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The Cardinal: Southern fare needs work in the EV

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I heard last week that this place was opening on E. 4th between A & B, and I'm always excited about Southern food; Monday night (opening night) I had some time to check it out before work. The food was, at best, meh, but at least what I ordered delivered good quantity for the price, $15 in this case, before t&t.

The Smothered and Fried Pork Chops (red eye gravy) are two very nice-sized "heritage" chops (does "heritage" have a specific meaning, or is it like "organic?"), each about 3/4" thick, that come with two sides; I chose "slow-cooked green beans" and "candied yams." The chops would've been much tastier if they weren't woefully underseasoned, but at least there was a good amount of 'em. After adding some salt and pepper, they were much better. I'm not sure why they call them "smothered;" as to me that means a thick, rich gravy, one in which food can actually be smothered, not the watery, thin-flavored stuff that was on this plate.

As for the sides, well, let's call them institutional: substitute "overboiled in brine" for "slow-cooked" and you'll get the idea of the mushy green beans. There were some nice-sized chunks of relatively flavorless pork belly in with them, but the main taste that came through was salt. The candied yams were not candied at all, just roasted, and undercooked at that.

The space is nice: I ate upstairs at a window table, the front of the restaurant is open to the street and it was a lovely evening. There's a downstairs seating section that I didn't check out. The service was pleasant and accommodating.

Again, a nice amount of food for $15, but what I had was not very good, on the whole. I might give the joint a second chance, maybe with the fried chicken (same price) and different sides, but based on this experience, I'd as soon stick with Georgia's on Orchard St.

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Georgia's Eastside BBQ
192 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

The Cardinal
234 E 4th St, New York, NY 10009

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  1. Ended up here last night after a friend wanted BBQ and Mighty Quinn's was slammed. Food was OK at best. Too much dill in the deviled eggs. Collard greens were decent. Brisket was fine but nothing special. Same for ribs and pulled pork. Certain parts of the cuts were desiccated. Not memorable.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      Haha, l haven't thought about this place since l ate there! l sometimes go to places too early in their history, and base my opinion on that early visit, before they might hit their stride [l know this is wrong, and that one shouldn't judge a place on just one visit]; this happened with me and MQ, and l'm very happy that they completely turned around. Sietsema gave the Cardinal a couple of good writeups, but at this point, l trust you and other CHers a bit more than him [tho he does get the early word on openings often].