Tuesday, February 8, 2011
IEM Session #15.2
Inhuman Eating Machine official rules and guidelines
(continued from 15.1)
UNCLE WILLIE'S- 614 14th St.- 11:37am- $8.95
Willie's opened while I was working downtown, but their lunch prices were much higher than Chef Edwards, so I never bothered checking them out. The old decor was something to behold. One of the walls had murals that featured crudely-painted likenesses of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ronald Reagan. Those masterworks were rendered either by a mental patient, or by somebody born without arms. Willie's has long since been renovated, possibly after undergoing a management change, as the word "Texas" used to appear in the name of the restaurant. These days, the interior is appointed with a big-screen TV (tuned to ESPN) and a painting that blatantly rips off Ernie Barnes' "Sugar Shack," a piece best known from the credits of Good Times.
Here's Barnes' original:
Here's the knockoff (not by Barnes):
We were here mere minutes before the lunch hour, so I was shocked to find Willie's deserted, save for one woman eating solo. The prices are no longer out of step with Chef Edwards, so Willie's should have been more crowded than this. The lack of clientele didn't seem promising, but the meat was actually decent. The brisket was shredded in long pieces, rather than the small chunks I received at Chef Edwards, and there were a lot of crispy ends. The portion was slightly smaller than Chef's, but the meat was somewhat leaner than Chef's, so it definitely a mixed blessing. The sauce was a touch non-descript. Neither as hot nor as sweet as the Chef's sauce, Willie's sauce was simply less flavorful in general- totally acceptable, but not noteworthy. If the meat was richer and more deeply-seasoned, the subtle sauce would have worked, but Willie's meat was also on the understated end of the spectrum. A bolder sauce would have provided a better compliment. I ordered a side of collard greens. They were the star of the show here- heavy with bacon/pork flavor and absent the grittiness or bitterness often present in this dish. I have one other qualm about this meal. The ubiquitous 2-slices-of-whole-wheat-bread-in-a-baggie included the heel from the loaf! Yes, the heel! From some crummy off-brand loaf you'd buy at a liquor store or find in the cafeteria of a nursing home. I realize the heel tastes exactly the same as all the other crappy slices in a cheapo loaf, but nobody wants the heel of shit quality bread. It is just bad form. Throw the heel away, for chrissake. You will not miss it. If you truly think that serving heels is what will keep your business afloat, you've got a faulty business plan, chum.
I have no problem with this place, per se, but I see no real reason to eat here or at any unmemorable BBQ joint, for that matter. Bay Area BBQ is just too expensive to settle for mediocrity- unless the joint has an "outsider artist's" rendering of Ronald Reagan on the wall next to MLK's calming visage. I can excuse a lot of missteps in the midst of that kind of genius.
Posted by Inhuman Eating Machine at 6:00 AM