The Other Critics

Kauffman Rounds Up Bay Area BBQ; Reidinger Calls 25 Lusk’s Food ‘Intensely Plated’

Some crusty, Texas-style BBQ beef brisket from Slow Hand and pitmaster Dan Frengs.
Some crusty, Texas-style BBQ beef brisket from Slow Hand and pitmaster Dan Frengs. Photo: Courtesy of Slow Hand BBQ

Jonathan Kauffman points out that, traditionally, good barbecue is like a well-kept, off-the-grid secret. Thus “there’s something fitting about the fact that Facebook-enabled San Franciscans like me have spent the past few months hunting down mobile smokers with high aspirations and no fixed location.”

He goes on to review the current crop of newish BBQ ventures, mobile and otherwise, starting with Cathead’s BBQ, currently in residence on Saturdays only at The Corner (“Few BBQ places can match the quality of Cathead’s sides, particularly the mac and cheese and the cream-soaked scalloped potatoes flecked with spring garlic and country ham, which almost merit their own food truck.”); then we have Smoke BBQ (“the fattier ends of his ribs come out pink, succulent, and torrentially flavorful, especially when dipped in Smoke’s sweet, allspice-heavy KC-style sauce.”); Southern Sandwich Co. (“While their chopped brisket can come off as mushy and indistinct, the pale, tender pulled pork has obviously taken in many hours’ worth of smoke, tasting as if it were infused with bacon fat and black pepper.”); Sneaky’s, now in permanent residence at Rebel (“Where their barbecue style shines is the strips of kurobuta pork belly, coal-black and smoke-dense.”); and Slow Hand (“[Dan Frengs’] Texas-style barbecue is some of the best I’ve tasted on the West Coast.”). [SF Weekly]

Paul Reidinger, our generally anti-upscale friend at the Guardian, sounds almost charmed by the decidedly luxe environs of Twenty Five Lusk. It reminds him of several places, starting with London (“In an odd way it reminded me of Downing Street, in Whitehall, central London (home of the PM): a stub of pavement with no through traffic, lots of shiny black cars, and a strong sense of occasion.”), but also Boulevard, and Bix (“Not since the advent of Bix, more than 20 years ago, has a restaurant brought such panache to an urban alley.”). Bauer actually made the Bix comparison first, and it being more of a swanky lounge and supperclub than straight-up restaurant, this makes sense. Reidinger is more impressed with the food a few months after Bauer took his turn, however. He says, “The grilled prawns… benefited from a berm of carrot puree as well as a thick bed of fabulously fragrant Japanese pepper grits, like lemony polenta.” And he almost orgasms over the Medjool date cake: “splendid and datey, the ice cream intensely apricoty and not very sweet, and the candied ginger sublime. But they each stood apart on the plate, like young teenagers at a party, segregated by sex.” There you go getting randy on us again, Paul. [SFBG]

Kauffman Rounds Up Bay Area BBQ; Reidinger Calls 25 Lusk’s Food