Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Lincoln's Bar-B-Que Food Review

Pulled Pork Bar-B-Que with Old Bay Fries & Slaw

I was surprised (and disappointed) to learn about A.G. Kitchen's closing in December 2016. My first impressions were quite favorable; and I thought the Latin-American fusion concept was a great fit for downtown Silver Spring. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be; but at least its replacement is from the same parent company (The Restaurant Group) which bodes well for its future. Enter Lincoln's Bar-B-Que, a 315-seat barbecue joint with high aspirations. Who doesn't like good barbecue? Question is, just how good is it?

One thing's for sure, it's a heck of a lot better than former tenant Romano's Macaroni Grill; but after a quick first dinner, it has a ways to go to match A.G. Kitchen. It started with a request, for a quiet table just before 6 o'clock. Since the restaurant wasn't very busy (yet,) no problem. The hostess set me up at a table in the middle of the sprawling dining room, where a friendly waitress (Stephanie) took my drink order. So far, so good.

Triple Cut Bacon

Seconds later, a family of 8-10 was seated directly across from me, by the very same hostess who honored my request for a "quiet table." Once again, there were plenty of empty tables all around me, but she planted "Swiss Family Robinson" only a few feet away from me. Even their dad warned me, "Here comes the noise." Yikes. I got up immediately, went to the hostess station, and tried to remind her of my request. She looked utterly confused, and responded, "Table for one?" Thankfully, Stephanie rescued me, and brought me back to a bank of empty booths in the rear of the restaurant. If you're keeping score at home, that's Server 1 Hostess 0. P.S. When I left (about half an hour later) the very same hostess looked right through me, without saying so much as good-bye.

Corn Bread

I was thrilled to have a ton of space to myself, even if there was a lack of light (see below.) A.G. Kitchen had a similar problem, but hopefully Lincoln's will fix it soon... It's so dark, it's kinda creepy, especially for a barbecue joint vs. a nightclub. Music is familiar & upbeat (Charlie Daniels, The Rolling Stones) and plays at a perfect level. Service (outside of the aforementioned hostess) was banner... and quick. I had already placed an order for two starters (Triple Cut Bacon and Corn Bread) and Pulled Pork Bar-B-Que with 2 sides (Old Bay Fries & Slaw) so it didn't take long for my first round to arrive at my new table.

Got a light?

First thoughts? Disappointing. Both starters looked relatively puny, given their respective $4.25 & $7.50 price tags. Three tiny cubes of dry corn bread (tucked inside a super-flimsy red plastic basket) closer resembled a complimentary serving of bread... with "enough" butter to barely coat one square. Speaking of, a single square is all I could manage to eat. It was really, really dry (and flavorless.) As for the bacon, four 2.5" slices of sticky, sweet pork perfection. It was a bit chewy (in a good way) but six slices would be offer a lot more bang for the buck. Looking back, I couldn't help but feel a tiny bit cheated. What a shame, considering how tasty the bacon was.

My main course arrived a couple of minutes after my starters, which is obviously a problem... especially when there's only one guest at the table. As far as value goes, I got more than my money's worth ($12.50) this time around. Unfortunately, the quality of food didn't match. The slaw was dry & tasteless (hardly any mayo, not chilled.) In other words, pedestrian: I pictured a giant vat of slaw in the kitchen, with an enormous spoon to match. Not exactly appetizing, is it?

Old Bay Fries were warm but way over-salty. That's when a refill of water would have been handy (but alas, no such luck.) Also, some fries were older than others. Mixed batches? Who knows, but I didn't care for them. The pork however, was very good (despite or perhaps because of a few fatty pieces in between.) They came coated with a light barbecue glaze, but I took Stephanie's recommendation, and added one of the five handy bottles of sauce, to turn it into something quite special. Texas Spice adds lots of kick: I highly recommend it.

Stephanie checked in on me a couple of times, and was super-nice throughout (including her early save, at the hostess station.) Three other employees stopped by as well, so service gets a solid B (obviously higher, were it not for the hostess.) If you're still keeping score at home, that's at least half-a-dozen (negative) mentions for the hostess. Who says service isn't important? It's crucial.

Bottom line, I'm more than willing to give Lincoln's another try. After all, the menu's huge (BBQ Turkey, Southern Fried Chicken, Super Crazy Milkshakes) and so is my appetite. Until then...

Atmosphere: B- (Too dark inside, but otherwise very nice.)
Barbecue: B (Can't wait to try more.)
Sides/Starters: C- (Great tasting bacon. Everything else... not good.)
Service: B (Stephanie was great.)
Value: C (Starters = D-, Main Entree = B+)
Overall: C (Ample room for improvement, but negatives are hard to overlook.)