let's eat bbq in bayview....or maybe just a side?
There is a song from the early 80's by Styx called "Too Much Time On My Hands," (yes, so very 80's) that seems to ring through my days recently. It can be both a good and bad thing depending on how you look at it. I'll take it as a mixed bag emotion which leads me out of the house and into some of the far outlying neighborhoods of SF you don't hear too much about unless something bad happens on the news. But these places are still part of San Francisco and as such, have food to offer the masses much like the well traveled areas downtown.
A recent foray took me way down 3rd street and deep into the heart of Bayview, a neighborhood some say will be the new, now, next as rent and housing prices are still "affordable," whatever that is. I originally headed down that way to check out the newish location of Craftsman and Wolves, but when I got there they seemed to be pretty much out of everything and I was underwhelmed by the few choices they had left. It was barely midday so I was a little bummed and decided to make my way back up to 3rd and see what else was nearby.
I saw a handful of spots up and down the block as the area looks like a true neighborhood with a variety of shops, restaurants and bars to choose from. It will probably come as no surprise I was immediately attracted to this place:
Seriously, how can I pass up a spot with so much advertising for bbq meats? I mean, Let's Eat BBQ and More! The name says it all. It is the middle of the week and middle of the day and the place is empty, but I don't usually take that as a sign of anything anymore. A glance through their menu and it is a litany of all things mostly Southern food cooking. They have a lunch special of a meat with one side and cornbread for about $10. I'm up for giving it a try and since I might not get out this way much more, I order up two different meats and sides to try as much as possible.
Right off the bat I became a little worried while they were preparing my order that I heard the hum and ding of a microwave. Hmm, I know places prepare things beforehand, but you have to microwave the meat? And true to this, as you can probably see from the pic, the pork was not just dry, it was arid. Yes, it comes with a side of house made spicy bbq sauce, which had kick but was a little on the sweet side to my tastes, still doesn't help. It was just a chewy mess 'o meat and just a total loss for enjoyment of any kind.
The side of collards, however, was the standout. Cooked just this side of tender with bits of red pepper and pork, they are spicy old school greens, seasoned well and quite tasty. The cornbread muffin was also a winner as it floated between crumbly and soft with just a hint of corn sweetness. Warmed up with butter made it even better.
Which then brings me to the next plate, the beef brisket with mac and cheese. Again the familiar ding and from the pic you can probably tell it suffered the same dry fate. In fact, it was like beef jerky than some tender juicy brisket. It was dense and nearly unchewable, though it lacked some flavor you might actually find in a jerky. As above, the best was the side dish of mac and cheese. This version was more like a cottage cheese chunky baked casserole version as opposed to the creamy style and I like that as an alternative. Chunks of baked cheese, some black pepper and just enough al dente to make it yummy. That's sides 3 meat 0 if you are keeping score.
But like any good Southerner I wasn't gonna give up without cake! Specifically their house made 7Up bundt cake. At $4 a slice it is their truest bargain for size and most definitely taste. It was moist, sweet, delicious and mostly importantly, full of the heft I long for in a dessert. They say a great dessert can wipe out the memory of a bad meal, well, it doesn't quite do that, but it would be worth a re-visit just for it.
I think I will call this place a mixed bag. While I was initially attracted to it for the hope of some good Southern cooked meat, I was wildly disappointed at just how dry, overcooked and just bad it was. But the side dishes did shine here and were quite a bright spot along with the cornbread. In fact, you can actually get an all sides plate here with a corn muffin and for that, it could be worth a visit. And of course if you do, get the 7Up cake, a great meal topper and all the things that are good about Southern cooking in one perfect slice. My sweet tooth waters just thinking about it!