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Monday, October 5, 2015

Uncle Tom's Barbecue


      Sometimes you just get hit with a hankering for ribs. This barbecue emporium has been in Miami since 1948, but it was recently refreshed. The parking lot is always full, frequently a good indicator, and it happens to be across the street from our favorite ice cream shop, ChillN (see previous blog post). When the stars align like this, you just have to surrender.
     Uncle Tom's is a perfect rectangle the size of an extra large dining room in any spacious home, but the picnic tables, made from recycled pallets, and the bar are positioned efficiently. I calculated there was a flat screen TV for every four square feet of space, which means that sports enthusiasts will have a good seat no matter where they sit.
     Both John and I ordered the half rack of baby back ribs, his with baked beans, fries and corn on the cob, mine with coleslaw and fries. Every side was satisfactory but unremarkable. The ribs, however, were my biggest disappointment. I'm not a ribs expert, but I know what I like. They were cooked with absolutely no prior seasoning or barbecue sauce. That had to be added at the table. A note about the sauce- They claim it's homemade, but it tasted no different than the Sweet Baby Ray's I have in my fridge, so I wasn't particularly impressed.
     The ribs are made in a barbecue pit, so understandably the outer layer comes out a bit charred, but with no flavor to speak of, charred simply tastes burnt. Also, I like my ribs to fall off the bone and melt in my mouth. I had to wrestle the meat of these bones with my teeth. It felt very prehistoric.
     At this point, I was ready to cut my losses and cry all the way to ChillN, but as I waited for John to finish his rack, I saw the server bring two massive wedges of cornbread to a neighboring table. It looked different from the norm, it looked moist, like cake from a good bakery. It looked promising. It summoned me. I had to try it. Maybe this cornbread would be the redeemer of this less than thrilling meal, but it was not to be. When I asked the server to bring us a wedge, she said they had just sold the last two. Really? A barbecue joint runs out of cornbread? At lunch time? Nothing left to say but 'Check, Please'.

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