By: Christopher A. Pape
Finding food that I enjoy and that my readers will want to experience can be found in almost any form of restaurant. From high to low; from haute barnyard to new American – my readers demand only the best in each specific category and I am to please.
Recently I had a very fine experience in a most unlikely place. Located near Sutton Place, a stone’s throw away from the East River, sits Neely’s Barbecue Parlor. Owned by Food Network celebrities Patrick and Gina Neely, the restaurant is an embodiment of their desire to create authentic and delicious Southern cooking and bring it to New York.
A guest and I arrived to find a space that was inviting and friendly. We loved the warm, rich wood tones and the multi-level space. And from the moment we walked in, to the moment we left the staff was friendly and extremely helpful. But the best of all was the food.
The menu was a string of Southern hits. We started off with pan fried blue crab cakes, hushpuppies with red pepper jelly, candied thick cut slab bacon that were brown sugar coated and slows baked until crispy. Our favorite of the appetizers was the deep fried pickles. Crunchy and sweet they were pockets of goodness and with each bite I felt myself becoming more Southern.
Of the main dishes, we loved the country fried steak. It I hand battered sirloin steak that is deep fried until golden brown and topped with black pepper cream gravy. They served it with mashed potatoes, green beans cooked with bacon and onions. The meat was succulent and tender and we loved the richness and wispiness of the potatoes – they were pure perfection. Mention should also be made of their Kansas City style ‘sweet & sticky’ ribs. They were perfectly cooked; fell right of the bone and topped with the Neely’s famous sweet and tangy barbecue sauce.
Their sides deserve their own special category. From Cole Slaw, Brussels sprouts with bacon, whipped sweet potatoes with bourbon-pecan butter to Southern creamed corn to sweet potato fires, everything was covered and we certainly enjoyed it all.
Neely’s Barbecue Parlor is not a typical Manhattan restaurant, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy. When we were there is was crowded with a mixed crowd of old and young. I truly believe that the Neely’s have a winner and expect the restaurant to leave a lasting impression on the neighborhood.