by Alice Levitt
It's long been my goal to have real-live down-home barbecue available nearby. Much as I love the competition-style ribs at the Belted Cow Bistro, the atmosphere there can feel a little formal for such finger lickin' cuisine. I harbor no such feelings about my own couch.
That's why Misery Loves Co. answers a yearning from deep within my heart. Last Friday, I arrived home from work to find the paper bag at right waiting on my deck. It was packed with the stuff of my wildest dreams, namely two kinds of smoky meats and all the sides I could want.
Olive was excited, too (right). We were both amazed at the number of extras included with the meal, which was $31 before tip. First was a loaf of home-baked white bread, a southern barbecue staple all too often overlooked up north. Most diners probably don't associate Misery Loves Co. chefs Aaron Josinsky and Nate Wade with Wonderbread, but perhaps they should. The bread was equally satisfying as it soaked up the juices from the brisket I stacked on top of it. But more on that later.
One small bag contained two containers each of Day-Glo dill pickle chips and a wonderfully tangy, slightly sweet barbecue sauce.
Other sides were $4 each. I tried the coleslaw, which was lightly vinegared and redolent of celery seeds. It provided a much-needed oasis from the surprisingly piquant baked beans (these were no Boston-style legumes). This dish was far from the sticky sweet stew I usually expect. In these beans, a slow burn of heat and a bracing zing replaced sugar.
The meats had their fair share of spice, too, particularly the baby back ribs, which were crusted in a fiery rub. The smoke ring was apparent as I cut apart my full rack.
The combination of smoke and pepper was addictive, but when combined with the beans, tasted somewhat same-y after a number of bites. Some ribs were up to competitive snuff texturally: yielding but still clinging to the bone. Others weren't quite as tender as they could be. Ribs are a newer addition to the menu. I trust that with some practice, Misery Loves Co. will find a way to make the whole rack more uniform.
They've already perfected the brisket. It's juicy with rendered beef fat and fall-apart tender. The smokiness stayed in my mouth and clung to my fingers for hours, even after washing my hands several times. Covered with bright barbecue sauce and piled atop that bread, it was a dish to remember. And order again soon. Very soon.