Monday, October 18, 2010


UNITED BARBECUE (146 Ives Street, Providence  401-751-9000) will deliver your order but it's worth a pick-up trip just to see the place in motion. This is not a Carolina barbecue joint so don't get your hopes up for the barbecue you love at Clyde Cooper's in Raleigh, North Carolina -  slow-cooked shredded pork served on a soft cheap bun, doused with vinegary sauce and accompanied by hush puppies and iced tea. No, this is the north and barbecue places have giant menus: pulled pork, beef ribs, brisket, chicken, chili, wings, vegan burgers, macaroni and cheese, onion rings, etc. Onion rings, by the way, are NOT a substitute for hush puppies.
But, you live where you live and you make do. My first visit to United  Barbecue was to try the pulled pork. It's a couple of sandwiches later  now and I've come to the conclusion that I don't like the heavily-sauced meat. My friend calls this Kansas City barbecue - lots of smoky red/brown sauce - and he loves it. I call it a pork cover-up. The sauce overwhelms so I can't tell if I'm eating pork or beef.  The kaiser-type roll is too bulky and chewy. Unsatisfying.

Thick sauce shows up on other offerings too, working a little better with  the beef brisket, but I also have major issues with the beef brisket. My vision of barbecued brisket is sliced, not chopped, served sprinkled with the sharp, spicy brew you get at Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar.B.Que in Llano, Texas. Cooper's, which is unrelated to the Raleigh restaurant, is a must-go-to-place if you are visiting Austin and have time to roam a little in the hill country. Won't ever get there? Order the brisket on line (and the sauce unless you happen to have some Carolina bottles in your fridge):  Again, my friend, while calling the Llano brisket first-rate, liked United's brisket just fine, sauce and all, and ate every bit. 

Here's what I liked: great, crispy cole slaw, spicy old-fashioned chile con carne, home-made desserts which aren't bad - microwave the rum raisin bread pudding and it's actually pretty good.

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