Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Capital Q - Reviewed By the Five Paragraph Bitter Food Critic


Apparently the Five Paragraph Bitter Food Critic is prone to the powers of suggestion. Just as a mere reference to Mary Prankster makes me crave a Baltimore crabcake, the picture of the gooey, sauce-soaked ribs from the Chicago RibFest pointed me towards some local barbecue. Capital Q in the not-terribly-Chinese-anymore Chinatown has received all sorts of glowing press for the quality of its meats, most notably on Al Roker's Food Network show. Since Al knows BBQ like Bo knows football, I was eager to sample owner Nick Fontana's Austin, Texas-inspired chow. I have eaten at the `Q once before, but it was right before closing time before a holiday - I'm not going to dare judge any place in that kind of circumstance. I may be bitter, but I am fair.

And while I am no Chev Yaneev with advanced culinary training and the cool poofy hat, I am a barbecue junkie and a good man to have in a smoke pit. I've worked for a few barbecue places and steakhouses, and, like Al Roker, I too have traveled the country eating at barbecue places. I worked as a radio deejay and comedian for a while, and nothing beats roadside barbecue stands on the way to the next gig. Unlike Roker, though, I exercised, and didn't wuss out and get the gastric bypass surgery.

So, a sunny Monday afternoon with barbecue and margaritas seemed like a great way to start a week, and the 3 meat platter at Capital Q was practically throwing itself at me like a drunk girl at Rumours. 3 meats, 2 sides...fair enough. I selected the ribs, the turkey and brisket, along with corn and mashed potatoes. Seventeen bucks is a little high, but, it's cheaper than airfare to Texas.

I shoulda checked Southwest.com for a round-trip to San Antonio instead. The brisket was tasty, but incredibly overcooked. Brisket should not be gray, but more medium-rare with a noticeable smoke ring. The Q's brisket lacked that distinctive mark of true Texas barbecue. However overcooked, it was good, and the Q's sauce really made this meat shine. There were two turkey breasts available for the meat cutter to chop my selection from, and instead of the juicy, fresh bird, he chose the dried-out end piece that looked like it sat around under a heat lamp since last week's lunch rush. This turkey had nothing in common with the exemplary smoked bird served at Rudy's BBQ throughout Texas and Oklahoma.

The kicker, though, was the rib. And I don't mean like the kicker at a casino or on a football team, but the kick-in-the-a$$. The meat cutter took a third of a rack of ribs in his tongs, and sliced off *one rib.* ONE mutha-farkin' rib. It's like Chris Rock and Isaac Hayes in "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka" but in reverse! The cutter then sliced off the rib's side trim (the fatty part of the rack removed from most restaurants) from the back of the rib rack and plopped that on my plate. There is more meat on Nicole Ritchie than on a rib trim, and I had to work to get more than two bites out of the charred, substandard cut. Apparently the Texas Hospitality displayed through the generous portions found at places like Coopers, Stubb's and The Salt Lick didn't make it to this side of the Mississippi.
6 out of 17 Whammies! A Whammy! was awarded for each Cuervo margarita I drank, the killer potatoes, the really good sauce and the flavorful brisket. The Q lost Whammies! because of the high price, lousy cuts of meat and the fact that I damned near had to quote Chris Rock - "How much for an order of ribs? About how many ribs do you get with that?" I won't be going back to the Q again - though I wish I had asked if they had change for a hundred...


De said...

Anyone who quotes Mary Prankster and I'm Gonna Git You Sucka in a restaurant review is certainly worthy of praise. Based on your review, I'll definitely be steering clear of Capital Q.

I found your site while searching for the legendary Tom Perry, whom I considered to be a very underrated talent at HFS. I don't suppose you know where he's engaging in his hilarious antics these days? The show really helped during the very turbulent months after my divorce and I've always wanted to thank him.

Telecomedian said...

Thanks for the nice words, DK (heh, you're like the Dead Kennedys). I'm slowly making the transition to "professional writer" and between this blog and DCFUD, I'm working my way to carpal tunnel, repetitive stress syndrome, or gaining 50 pounds. Not sure which.

Anyway, I think Tom is back at 91x in San Diego, where I think he was truly happy there. I haven't seen him in damned near 10 years, and my memory ain't so hot, but I distinctly remember him saying one night how much he missed San Diego. If that's so, I'm glad he's back there.