March 3, 2008

Rub: It is supposed to be about more than just meat.

Every so often you hear about a place and your expectations begin to rise. You hear how good the food is, how fun the people and atmosphere are and your own anticipation builds. You hear that it is a magical place where all of your dreams about “low and slow” can come true and you cannot wait to try it. Then you get the chance to try it and your expectations, your hopes and dreams are crushed with the mighty blow of a pretty bad restaurant. This was my experience at Rub BBQ in the Riverside section of South Baltimore

Rub is billed as a classic, Texas style, Barbecue. They have a number of classic southern Que items on their menu with the occasional, we are a restaurant in the city, twist. The atmosphere is pretty laid back, a mix of a BBQ place and a sports bar. It was a couple minutes after being seated that my initial positive impressions and excitement were crushed like a little boy who didn’t get the bike (read Nintendo Wii) that he wanted for Christmas.

First let’s talk about the service. Rub prominently displays their signature drink as “Lone Star Lemonade”. It is on their website, their menu, even their menu cover (I mean the laminated piece of paper that is clipped on the front of the heavy clipboard, which contains the actual food you can order). When the waiter asks us for our drink orders and our response is “Two of The Lemonade” you would imagine we would be getting the signature drink. You would be wrong. Minute Made… Seriously… Minute Maid. This was followed by another futile attempt where the waiter wanted to bring what was basically a Zima. When we did finally get the “Signature Drink” and it was very good, and pretty whimsical, being frozen and served in old milk jugs. The drink could not make up for the next service mishap. My dining companion and I were served on two plates, which would have been great, except the individual items looked like they were thrown onto the closest thing that the kitchen staff could find. We had to play a little game of Three Card Monty between us until the food was in the right order. Isn’t grouping the food onto a plate so it can be served to the person who ordered it Restaurant 101? I thought so.

We decided to order the fried green tomatoes for an appetizer. Once again these did not hold up to their potential billing. I am all for salting food when it comes out of the fryer, but you shouldn’t drown items in salt. Hopefully the people at Rub get this message. Entrees included samplings of brisket, turkey and Texas flat ribs accompanied by corn pudding and sweet potato fries. The meat on the plate almost saved the meal. The Brisket was very good, tender and flavorful. The Texas flat ribs, a beef rib as opposed to the standard pork that is prevalent in the area, were also full of flavor. The turkey was moist and tasty. In fact the meal could have been saved if it wasn’t for the lack of taste in the sweet potato fries (I guess they got the message about the salt and decided to go without it) and the incredible heat in the corn pudding. I appreciate the attempt as a corn pudding that is not sweet, but seriously, if all I taste is pepper and the burn of Serrano chilies, well it is just not successful. If Rub paid attention to more than just the meat it would be a great place.

I really want to say good things about Rub, I just can’t. I will hopefully find better barbecue in the city.

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