Friday, July 31, 2009
Mr. Dave Weighs in on the Capital Q Issue
So, I have been reading the varying opinions on our own Capital Q (329 Ontario, Albany) that have been flying around the intertubes lately (see Monsieur Fussy's positive take here, and the Times Union's Celina Ottaway's not so positive take here). Firstly, I am only newly under the sway of Capital Q's smokey charms. I first sampled their porky wares at the Troy Pigout, and I just had a delicious lunch there this rainy afternoon. Secondly, I agree with Mr. Fussy that Capital Q is top notch and most of what Ms. Ottaway had to say is pedantic gobshite.
On the issue of food, the sandwiches are delicious (see here for menu link). The Okie Pig (pulled pork and house made pickles) is probably the best locally available barbecue sandwich. This is the one item that Capital Q hangs its hat on, and it is good. Really good. The Okie Beef and Burnt Ends sandwich, also full of win. Delicious. The ribs are good too, here is the half rack of "Wet" ribs I got this afternoon.
A close up of the rib if your interested. As always, I apologize for the quality of the photos. I am sticking to my "only using iPhone camera" guns.
Were the ribs the best ribs I have ever had? Probably not, they were slightly salty. But hey, we all have problems. The sauce had a delicious, tomato richness that I absolutely loved. The meat was good, and the portion was reasonably priced. This is my problem with Ms. Ottaway's review. She makes a big stink about there being both "really good" and "really bad" food at Capital Q, blah, blah, blah... How about I come to dinner at your house and see if I like every single dish that you cook. That is what I like about Capital Q, it all tastes like it was actually made by the hands of humans. If you want across the board, slick, mediocre "goodness" go to Boston Market and shove some meatloaf in your maw. I like Capital Q, warts and all. Also, the sublimely delicious Okie Pig pulled pork sandwich makes me forgive anything else that they do at the establishment. I think it is that good.
On the issue of service, Ms. Ottaway calls the counter staff "obnoxious." I am sorry to pontificate, but this is one of my pet peeves. Where in the universal social contract does it say that we all have to be nice to each other all of the time? To me it is a peculiarity of the American psyche that many expect zombie-like cheeriness from all food service personnel regardless of situation. I, for one, am a moody bastard. If I ever open a restaurant, and you come in on a day when I am moody, prepare for me to be mean to you. If you don't like it leave and never come back. As long as I walk out of Capital Q with a sack full of pork, I could care less if they were a little brusque. By the way, the young gent working the counter this afternoon was a picture of friendly customer service. So I think that Ms. Ottaway may need to drink a cup of "get over yourself" with her cornflakes in the morning. Or go to McDonald's for a McSmile and a McHave-a-nice-day.
On the issue of authenticity, Ms. Ottaway drops the whole "I lived there, so..." card. I have lived in both Oklahoma, as well as the Carolinas, back during my ramblin' days, and let me tell you, there are some shit barbecue joints down there authentic or not. There are also some very good barbecue joints, but this whole argument is a fallacy. Who cares if something is absolutely true to its roots as long as it is good. I have seen bigger departures between 2 Oklahoma bbq joints on the same street than between either of them and Capital Q.
So, any question where my opinion lies? Needless to say, not a big fan of Celina Ottaway's review.
On to more praises for Capital Q. As you may know, I spent my childhood on the mean streets of downtown Albany. The neighborhood around Capital Q is as familiar to me as my newborn daughter's face. I saw this on the wall and had a nostalgia fit and almost started balling.
Yes, Capital Q is located on hallowed ground. The former location of Emil Meister's Market. You guys know that weird mural across the street? It is firmly ingrained in my childhood psyche. My dad used to take us to Meister's all of the time. Up the road you got the Paladium, and then the Hibernians. That was my neighborhood, it has changed, and it makes me sad. But I think Capital Q is a welcome addition, it has local character and fits right in. Did I mention that the Okie Pig sandwich with those homemade pickles is pretty good?