…and that was the RUB

baby back ribs

We came for the burnt ends. But to be fair, when we called the day before to see if RUB Barbeque took reservations, we were told that they sometimes run out of certain items because they take days to smoke. So, of course—with my luck, we arrived at RUB, aka, Righteous Urban Barbeque, to…

burnt ends

I think that sign is the VA (version Américain) of the infamous Fermeture exceptionnelle I’ve come to know all too well. I asked at the counter, “Are they really as good as they say they are?” and the woman replied, “Yes, they are.” When I started to cry, the staff sat me down at the bar and gave me a Country Cocktail of housemade lemonade and a double shot of bourbon.

When I pulled myself together, the extra-cheerful waiter with the New York-style forearms (good gosh, I forgot about all the worked-out people in New York) kindly noted that the burnt ends would likely be available in thirty minutes. But when faced with a long menu of pulled pork, brisket, and smoked turkey, I didn’t think I could wait thirty minutes, so the staff carried me over to a table and we ordered.

My table mates weren’t as keen as I was to try the barbecued bacon, which the waiter did warned was “pretty heavy duty”, but I did prevail over their other objection and ordered a side of fries. I ordered a ‘large’, since there were three of us, and the waiter said that two small orders were the same price, but you get a lot more fries. So why not order that?

Having been back in the states for a whole twenty four hours and being served a ‘small’ frozen yogurt that was roughly the size of a pineapple at Forty Carrots (which I didn’t get at all; it tastes like frozen cold cream—although I did manage to scrape out and eat each and everyone one of the rainbow sprinkles I could fish out), and I wolfed down a black & white cookie the size of a French dinner plate which my host kindly left for me to enjoy upon arrival, I figured the three of us would probably be fine sticking with one small order of fries.

onion strings french fries

Admittedly, because I live in Paris, I’m a little spoiled when it comes to barbeque. My brisket wasn’t falling-apart tender, a bit firm, but the pulled pork wasn’t bad. It was a bit gooshy for my taste (I like a little more texture, like carnitas) but the fries were excellent, as were the onion strings, feathery and crisp-fried strands of onions, well-seasoned with just the right amount of salt.

bbq sauces

Good lord, if there’s anything that would make me want to stay stateside it’s fries like this. (And, of course, the customer service in America continues to astound. People are, like, falling all over themselves to help me in stores. I had to buy a new cell phone and the man at Radio Shack spent about thirty minutes unwrapping and getting my phone set up so I could just walk out the door and start using it. And I was sure the woman at Bed, Bath and Beyond would not be able to sleep at night until she found me an Oxo cherry pitter amongst the massive jumble of housewares stacked to the ceiling in that hangar-sized store.)

RUB menu

But when French fries are made of real potatoes and left in the fryer until crisp, with not a soggy dud in the bunch, it’s hard to turn one’s back on them—and my country. (It’s going to be even harder to leave Bed, Bath and Beyond behind, too. And I’m thinking of bringing the guys from Radio Shack back with me to Paris, if I can book a few extra seats on the plane.)

rub brisket

One diner, who shall remain nameless (who is family), was a picky eater, and the waiter with the amazing forearms was kind enough to explain each and every variety of rib on the menu. She ended up with a half-rack of baby back ribs and after eating one, pushed the rest to the side of the plate. Being a good uncle, I thought I’d help her out and took a bite of one and had to agree they weren’t the pinnacle of tender short ribs.

I’ve been to Texas so it’s tough to compare New York to Austin. (I was kidding earlier about bbq in Paris. So don’t ask me where to get barbeque there.) We did have a good time, but I’m having a little trouble getting down American-sized portions and only managed to eat two-thirds of my dinner.

I keep forgetting about le doggy bag, but I don’t think leftover, reheated fries make the best breakfast..although when I woke up this morning, I wouldn’t have minded a bit of that cornbread with a lot of butter smeared over it. And I was dreaming a bit of those burnt ends, which means I probably have to go back.

Although I found something else to have for breakfast, in the meantime…

black & white cookie

RUB BBQ
208 West 23rd Street (between 7th and 8th)
Telephone: (212) 524-4300



Related Links

Zabar’s

The City Bakery

Papabubble

15 Things I’d Miss About Paris If I Moved Away

New York Noshing

New York Noshing, pt 2

Too Many Pretzel Croissants?

New York City Dining & Travel Notes

67 comments

  • I wished you would come to Austin.

  • Oh those fries! And onion strings!? All that and good customer service too.
    Sounds like you’re definitely making the most of your time Stateside.

  • If you hit Rub on a Monday night, you missed out on the best thing on their menu – their burgers. Only available on Mondays!!!

  • Whoa. That is one serious mother B&W cookie.

  • Welcome back to Chelsea! This time I hope you’ll try something from the Cupcake Café.

  • I remember once seeing a ‘Black and White’ cookie in Paris but it was in Milk and Dark chocolate..I thought that was so clever and so Paris…
    I wonder if I imagined it..?
    Enjoy the nice weather we’re having David.
    You missed the heat wave.
    Carolg

  • Lucy: I did have an amazing burger at Prune yesterday, astoundingly good, with a garlic-herb butter. And great fries, too!

    parisbreakfast: I think those cookies may be German, because I’ve seen them in Berlin (only with one or the other icing, never both)

    Jennifer: I’m still a bit startled when people want to help me, for no apparent reason other than just to be helpful. I think the whole team at Radio Shack descended upon my phone and would not let me leave until it worked. I bought headsets at B+H yesterday and they guy said, “You can return them in 14 days, even if you don’t like them.”

    When I said, “Even if I open the box and use them?”

    “Sure”, he said. “We want you to be happy with your purchase.”

    btw: They were also giving away free cups of ice water, too…

  • I would go back for the burnt ends. Having lived in Kansas City for two years, I can tell you that they are in fact that good.

  • Yeah, that Brisket looks a little dry but those Fries, Onion Rings, and I’m assuming Collard Greens? Look amazing! Hope you get to try the Burnt Ends! I think I’ll put some ribs in the smoker today! ;-)

  • Austin…wait, what? RUB is based on Kansas City BBQ and Burnt Ends are the quintessential Kansas City BBQ dish.

    Quite frankly, it’s a lazy comparison for someone of your stature and a bit insulting to us lovers of real KC BBQ.

  • I have been to RUB probably a dozen times since it opened a few years ago and have never once gotten there while the burnt ends were “in stock”. I don’t know who always gets to them before me, but I’m jealous. http://is.gd/e0nqL There is apparently a William Greenberg Bakery in the UES that makes very good black-and-whites; I must find out!

  • I almost went yesterday because their special was the doughnut burger (!!!)

  • I completely relate to this story.

    After living in Spain for several years now I’m shocked at how much food they give you in restaurants back in the States. I sometimes get grossed out over it.

    The customer service thing rings true as well. Do you have to pay for customer service calls in France like we do here in Spain? 90 cents a minute to get put on hold by the gas company.

    Have fun in NYC.

  • Ruby’s is hard to beat. I’ve been in love with that place ever since I was a student at the University of Texas (in the last century) and lived just around the corner. It’s the one place in Austin I’m always sure to go whenever I visit.

  • Burnt Ends are a pure KC tradition! I grew up there and the thought of them just makes me salivate. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to sample them :)

  • J: I love Rubys, too!

    Sharon & Noah: I assume anything with that name can’t be in the least bit bad. I think I need to go to Kansas City. I’ve been to Texas a number of times, there’s good bbq in Oakland, California. But for comparison sake, I hope there’s a visit to KC in the future. (Or at least a trip back to RUB.)

    Don: Yes, in France you pay .34/min to call customer service, even if you’re calling a company like your phone operator, because there is a problem with your service or bill. The norm is to be put on hold for 20 mins (ie: €7 later…), then when you reach someone, they tell you the personne responable isn’t there that day, and to call back tomorrow.

    I am surprised that the French put up with that. I guess they don’t really have a choice, but you would think it’d be free to call public services. You would think…

  • Burnt Ends..we have resorted to rock, paper, sissors in our house when it comes to the ends of any grilled or roasted meat. None of us care for well done meat except for those crisp, chewy-tender, well caramelized, ends. And speaking of chew, I’ve lately taken to preferring my meat less than falling-off-the-bone tender, especially brisket, but even ribs, as well. Too often I’ve eaten it when brisket just collapeses from normal pressure from the side of my fork or the entire meaty rib is bare in one bite . Many believe it’s the desired texture, but I just find meat that tender suitable for shredding only..and sometimes not even then! I’ve gotten picky to the other extreme, I guess!

  • Surprisingly, there are two (that’s right, a whole two!) bbq joints in Halifax, NS and they are pretty good. I have yet to wander down to Texas for proper bbq and it seems highly unlikely in the land of lobster that we would have decent bbq but these places smoke/do stuff right. Not that this info is coming from a completely selfless place, Halifax would definitely love to have you! Ahem.

    The portion sizes are a bit out of control and that accounts for oh so very much, does it not?

  • AAAAAAAAAAUUUU
    UUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGHHH
    HHHHHHHH!!!!!!! I forgot you were in New York!

    I started reading the article (you had me at “Country Cocktail of housemade lemonade and a double shot of bourbon”) and was so stoked for some authentic BBQ and awesome fries in Paris, until I realized you were stateside and I was stuck—happily, but stuck nonetheless– in a country with no frozen drinks, no Chicago-style pizza, and no barbecued bacon.

    That said, the French Fries at the Bistrot Gourmand (28 rue Guersant, in the 19th) are made from real potatoes and there’s not a soggy one in the bunch! (I’ll be reviewing the place next week in hommage to your Bistrot post.)

    Thanks for the mouth watering read!

  • I should probably point out, since tone is so difficult for me to convey through writing, that my above indignation was faux.

    Kansas City is a city that’s underrated by those that have never been and vastly overrated by those that have never left. The barbecue and baseball stadium, though, are top notch. David, if you ever find yourself there, resist the recommendations of the suburban hordes to eat at Oklahoma Joe’s (decent enough but not real KC BBQ) and make your way to Gates and Sons or Arthur Bryant’s, in that order. A tiny, out of the way dive called L.C.’s is third on the list. Then there’s everybody else.

  • The BBQ in Santa Cruz is terrible. I don’t even think I need to tell you that. Have you been?

  • The Black and White style cookies in Germany are called “Amerikaner” and as a die-hard black and white cookie fan from the UWS, I have to say, they don’t have anything on the B&W’s from New York. :(

  • Any chance you’ll venture over to Williamsburg while you’re in town?
    There are some great new bbq places that just opened here.
    I almost cried at the meaty deliciousness at http://www.fettesaubbq.com.

    Or for something with a bit more spice, try the Southeast Asian style bbq at http://www.fattycue.com

    Come on over the Williamsburg bridge and check it out!

  • David, it’s day two of my BBQ-induced lethargy. I was a judge at a BBQ cook-off. The rib winner was a Frenchman, much to the chagrin of my American compatriots. To add spice to the rub, it was his first time out on the smoker. Irony as delicious as the prize-winning ribs.

  • Hi David, if you are in NYC, you have to try Fette Sau BBQ in Williamsburg and I also heard good things about Fatty’Cue (from Fatty Crab people) – also in Williamsburg.

  • Wow! My mouth is watering after reading this post. I live in England and the top two things I miss most about America are BBQ (any kind!) and good customer service!
    BTW – made the cornmeal cookies from a few posts back and really enjoyed them. Thanks for sharing!

  • David I think you might also like Dinosaur BBQ under the West Side Highway just across the street from Fairway in very western Harlem. There’s live music and the BBQ is great!

    http://www.dinosaurbarbque.com/nycIndex.php

  • David,

    Please come to KC and I will personally escort you to some of the finest BBQ and burnt ends restaurants on the planet. We’ll start our tour at Oklahoma Joe’s and move on from there!

  • Excellent customer service.. what the what? Ok, I’m moving countries now. Love that picture of the blackboard menu. I’m craving bbq pork now, right in the middle of what is meant to be my vegetarian themed week. Oh and those black and white cookies are called Neenish tarts here, but never have I seen them so massive!

  • You’re not kidding on the portion sizes. I nearly fell over backwards when I read in The Sweet Life In Paris that a normal US portion was half a chicken. Wow!

  • So Dave, you were at RUB and didn’t even tell me ??????????// LOL…. I love the pulled chicken at RUB. It is FAB !! Next time you’re there, try it.. I agree with the review of the brisket……a little tough….. See you Thursday… Happy Days !!

  • The best black and white in NY is at Moishe’s bakery on 2nd Ave between 6th and 7th St. Nearby are the best blintzes in NY, and one of the few surviving Dairy restaurants in NY, B&H 127 2nd Ave (between 7th St & St Marks Pl). Be sure you try those if you have time.

  • Austin is like Mecca for BBQ enthusiasts… and there is a whole mess of Austin food bloggers who would be more than happy to bribe you with delicious smoked meaty treats if you’ll come visit us! Maybe a meet and greet to discuss Ready for Dessert at BookPeople?

  • David- please save me from NY envy and tell me where in Paris- or anywhere in France (willing to travel!) – I can go for BBQ. Anywhere? Pretty please…

  • I’m not a big BBQ fan but I loved your recipe for Quick Coconut Ice Cream (adapted from Delicious Days) and linked to it on my site yesterday!

  • OK..If you are going to insist on eating BBQ, you really do need to leave NYC. and head south for the incredibly wonderful Chesapeake Bay crabmeat [ I know I am getting tiresome on the subject], good ole BBQ [not my personal fav but a big local item] and the fresh corn and the tomato pie….Unfortunately my southern sweet fig tree has finished bearing fruit at the moment or I would try to get some to you..For those that have never eaten fresh picked sweet fig, I am sorry and suggest you try to find a good friend with a tree…As transplanted Yankee, The fig tree and the crabmeat make it work

  • Its always been my impression that black and white cookies were of Jewish/Eastern European origin. As a born and bred NY’er now living in unfortunate southern California, I miss the real thing, although your huge one doesn’t look quite authentic. In the 50′s, when I was growing up in an almost entirely Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, they were in every wonderful bakery in the area and were a special, special treat. Thanks for making me yearn for NY yet again .

  • black and whites??? In central New York, we called them Half Moons

  • I have yet to find really good bbq up here on the east coast. I know it has to exist somewhere up here. I lived in Texas for over 15 years and the food in general is amazing. Oh but the bbq . . . sigh. I lived next to Ruby’s for several years and really love their food. Nice people, too. Try Salt Lick out west of Austin (Driftwood, TX) for the food and the experience, open pit bbq, all you can eat bbq and pie! I don’t think I have ever made it to the pie part. Good lord, I need to go book a flight!

    I might have to go seek out Rub. Enjoy NY, it is a great place.

  • Oh, America. I do miss it terribly sometimes. I’ve never eaten a black and white cookie, and I’d probably have passed on the bacon too, but those fries! Those fries!

  • Y: Neenish tarts are different beasts from Black&White cookies. B&Ws are a cakey cookie covered in plain and chocolate icing. Neenish tarts have a pastry base, some sort of filling, and two icings.

  • David – the brisket at Hill Country on W. 26th Street is as close to the incredible brisket at Kreutz’s in TX – check it out. And the sides – mac and cheese, the beans and the collards there are pretty great, too.

  • OK, once again, why were you at RUB in the first place? Admittedly, I’m a sixth-generation Texan (who lives on the East Coast), but I also love K.C.-style barbecue. It’s about the meat and the smoke. Burnt ends are a lucky marketing gimmick. RUB is a pale imitation of the real thing. It’s Righteous, it’s Urban, but it’s barely barbecue. Hill Country (W 26th St), which has a sort of apostolic succession from Lockhart (the Vatican of Texas barbecue), is way out in front. Even Blue Smoke (E 27th St) is furlongs ahead. Even better, as at least one earlier poster has suggested, Get thee back to Austin.

  • I have to agree with mp on the recommendation to eat at Hill Country, the restaurant has amazing BBQ.

    I’m surprised to see you note that the customer service here is so good. It must be that bad in Paris?

    I’m looking forward to meeting you at Border’s on Thursday!

  • It’s nice that you’re seeking out BBQ on your trip stateside. I did the same, though I think I lucked out since someone made it for me.

  • what a tease. when i first opened this I thought it was in Paris.

  • So glad you have Papabubble on your links today. This store and The Product (sweeties) are fantastic! I could frankly do without the erotica, but c’est la vie.
    I met the owner on one of my trips to Barcelona, he’s such a personality and almost as funny as you are David.

    The flavors of the candies are unparalleled in taste. There is nothing like this in the rest of Spain.

    I keep hoping to have a Papabubble store in El Puerto, no luck so far :-(

  • Are American French fries not made of real potatoes??? Do please explain.
    Omelets not made with eggs I had thought the ultimate betrayal of the earthly paradise in the name of wellbeing.
    As for the huge food portions it is some huge national suicide.
    The waste, the waist!

  • Thse onion rights and potatoe fried make me hungry. I think I’m going to go deep fry something now. I have some Colocasia that I need to use up. Have you tried it? It’s super yum.

  • Okay, biting into the frist piece of deep fries Colocasia. YUM!

  • Amen about customer service in the States! Every time I go back home to NY I can’t help but feel incredibly surprised about how kind people are in stores and restaurants compared to Milan…it warms the heart. Love your blog.

  • Everything looks good!, but those fries, omg!!!

  • Kar+Kay: I thought that was the name of those cookies I saw in Berlin that were so similar. Interesting their lineage. Would love to know how they came to be; if they started in Germany or America.

    Nuts about food+Christine: The French can be incredibly helpful, but you have to work a little to get to that point. Returning anything can be nearly impossible; a friend tried to return some pants for a new size the day after she bought them, and the tags were still attached, and the saleswoman told her that obviously she had worn the pants and of course, they couldn’t take them back. When my phone at Radio Shack turned out to have a bad battery, they were only too happy to replace it with a new one, or to give me a new phone. Then they told me to be sure to come back, in case I had any further problems with it (!)

    Big Tex: I like Blue Smoke, although you’re right-it ain’t Austin.

    Harry: That black & white is from Moishe’s. The only thing is since they’re kosher, the cookies don’t have butter in them. But I do love that place, and hope they never close.

  • Hi David – Best fries I’ve ever tasted are those in Belgium. Husband & I drove across the border from France one year while on holiday just so I could have some Belgian fries. Used to be able to get equally good ones in France, but most are now McCains or MacDos, unfortunately. Maybe in expensive restaurants they still make their own. I sometimes do my own from Yukon Gold, but do a 2 step frying of them – YUMMY. I’m not American. Agree many American portions are huge.

    You’ve enticed me into making some fries for supper tonight.

  • Ummmm, if you want barbecue, you need to come to Memphis! And come in May before the heat hits and make it in time for the barbecue festival. You can try lots of different kinds of bbq within a few steps.

    –Loel

  • I was turned on to burnt ends in Kansas City, and have had RUB’s…personally I don’t think you missed anything. However, my favorite dish at RUB is the BBQ duck, a fat loading system not to be missed!

  • I was going to say something about burnt ends, but it’s gone – how big is that cookie!

  • I went to RUB once and was a little disappointed. Hill Country, a few blocks away, is my favorite BBQ restaurant in New York. Their brisket is excellent, as are the pork ribs. Daisy Mae in midtown is really good too.

  • If you’re ever in Austin, go to the Salt Lick. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

  • David, may your belly relish in all that New York has to offer – I wish mine could sometime soon too!

    (PS – Minute Maid is marketing a new bottled lemonade over here, I first found it at Ed – it’s called Limon&Nada, for you to recreate that Country Cocktail when you’re homesick and lazy…)

  • David, here in the south, where people know how to really make bbq, we call that “outside brown.”
    And if you really want some bbq, some curbside service and a touch of southern hospitality (as well as some great hushpuppies) you would hit Lexington, NC and go to There isn’t enough space in NYC to cook bbq properly, in a hickory wood smoker. Lexington BBQ goes through 3 tons of shoulder, in a slow week. Their busiest was 15 tons of shoulder. In a tiny little town. Now that is BBQ.

  • Brandi: 3 tons of pork shoulder? You’re right about the space; there isn’t enough room on a New York City block for that amount. How fortunate are you to live so close to great ‘q?

    Rennie: Everyone is recommending Hill Country, so I made need to head over there. A friend from Texas just arrived, though, and he’s not anxious to have bbq as much as I am. So I may have to wait until he’s gone..

  • Another recommendation for Hill country. Get the moist brisket, don’t mess around with the lean. The sides are NOT the main attraction here. It’s all about the meat. I usually only get the cucumber salad because it’s could and crisp and the acid cuts the grease well. Again, don’t waste valuable stomach space on the sides, they are forgettable! The prime rib is also fantastic. Start by asking for two slices of moist and one slice of prime rib. You can always go back for more. Don’t bother with the pork ribs, the chicken or the sausage.

    The desserts are supposed to be pretty good if you’re into ultra sweet American style stuff like cupcakes and banana pudding. I avoid these also, but they do have a fanatical following, mostly among girls who still have cupcakes on the brain (DAMN YOU, SEX AND THE CITY!) I generally end up eating about a quarter pound of brisket and a quarter pound of prime rib with a small cucumber and a couple beers. It’s phenomenal.

  • Hi DAvid:
    You did a good job at Borders on Thursday night. Quite a crowd of devotees…
    Thanks for your recommendation of A la Biche au Bois for a lunchtime Ile Flotante. Malheuresement, Ile Flotante is not on the current menu. But Birche au Bois looked great so I plan to stop by anyway when I’m in Paris in November…and maybe Ile Flotante will be back on the menu.

    BTW – I thought I understood you to mention both that you had a hankering for a nostalgic visit to Target and also that Dinosaur seemed kindof far away from midtown. Perhaps this will be helpful (you probably know all this already…) The new 117th St Harlem Target provides free shuttle service to and from Target from two #6 Lexington Line Subway exits – 116th St and 125th. So you can take the #6 train to 116th St stop and when you exit, you can catch the Target shuttle (a white van with “New York” scrawled all over it, comes every 20 mins) to go to Target. After you store up on Target PM, you can take the same Target shuttle to the 125th St and Lex subway exit. From there one can pick up the 125th St crosstown for a short ride to the Hudson which will be a five minute walk to Dinosaur. To go back downtown just walk back to 125th St and get the #1 train.

    One of the many great things for me about living in New York is not only the great quality choices of everything but that it’s so practical.
    Hope you enjoy the rest of your NYC visit, won’t forget us when you’re back home and will come back soon.
    Denise

  • If I didn’t already love you (and I do), I would now. Austin is definitely where it’s at for BBQ and I’ve been around. If you’d like to arrange a meet and greet discussion of Ready for Dessert at Book People, I would be happy to supply barbecue from Snow’s in Lexington. Their brisket has consistently been voted best in the state (it usually sells out by 10:30 in the morning – they are only open for a few hours a week).

  • Beautiful blog! Funny and informative – great photographs too…you are a source of information and inspiration for my own foodie blog! Thank you!! BTW, I lived in Paris as kid (one of those divorce things), and really enjoy all your musings about the culture and food…I feel transported – Thanks!

  • Just got back from spending a (freezing cold) weekend in NY. We ended up at RUB on Saturday afternoon needing warmth, beers and a little nosh. I got a bowl of chili and think that must be the best way to get pieces of tender brisket AND burnt ends! It was so good that I can’t stop thinking about it.