Steel Pig BBQ
601 Roy St (Queen Anne), 213-5870.
Open Mon-Sat 11:45 am-9 pm.
I decided, for once, to leave The Expert at home.
Knowledge can be a burden--in this case, a barbecue expert with very specific ideas of what does and does not fly when it comes to barbecue. I happen to be married to this expert, and sometimes you just want the food without the commentary, the thoughtful bites, the polite wincing when something doesn't measure up. And so it was that The Expert stayed at home when I went to Steel Pig BBQ.
The restaurant is named after a sculpture that mysteriously appeared two years ago in Fremont, a nifty guerrilla gesture aimed toward the annoying Pigs on Parade, about which the less said the better. This pig is now a restaurant mascot that you can catch a quick look at as you blow by on Aurora Avenue. The restaurant itself is a basement space: brightened up with yellow paint and loud music, but still a basement.
My instincts to leave The Expert at home were confirmed when one of the owners came by to chat me up and told me that while he was new at restaurant-owning, he had been making barbecue sauce for years. "It's all in the sauce," he said, and at this The Expert would have resembled a meat smoker, possibly flaming out a little around the ears. (The Expert believes it's all about the meat.) But the sauce, I thought, was very good: vinegary and sweet, with a little pepper kick.
My hungry non-Expert companion ordered a small Pig Out ($15.50, the large is $19.95), which has a bit of everything: ribs, chicken, catfish. I had chosen, more prudently I thought, a small order of ribs ($7.50, the large is $11), but my fork kept straying over to my friend's plate, especially for the catfish, which features melting, tender fish inside a briskly seasoned coating. I was also surprised by the chicken, which usually seems like an afterthought at barbecue joints, but here would stand nicely on its own. And the ribs were, to my non-expert mind, very good: tender without being mushy, enlivened by the lively sauce. Were they cooked in a smoker on the premises? Who knows? Who cares?
But I felt guilty, so I brought home a pulled-pork sandwich ($5.50) for The Expert. Which he scarfed down in about two bites. "Not bad," he said.