Friday, July 22, 2011

Restaurant of the Month – Neely’s Barbeque Parlor

My fourth featured Restaurant of the Month is Neely’s Barbeque Parlor:

1125 First Avenue
New York, NY 10065
(Between 61st and 62nd Streets)

The friend whom I visited Neely’s Barbeque Parlor with, has been following the Neely’s (a married couple) on the Food Network Channel.

Just thinking about the ambiance inside of this restaurant gives me a dose of warm nostalgia.

When I was little and still living in London, my mom and I frequented a park called Clissold Park. There was an ice cream parlor (emphasis on the word ‘parlor’) in the park, where my mom always took me to get ice cream. This was no ordinary ice cream shop. The windows stretched from floor to ceiling making the interior sunny, bright and cheery. The ice cream parlor had a porch front entrance/exit with umbrella covered, café seating; and was surrounded by the flowers that were growing all over the park

I haven’t been to that park since I was about six years old, but whenever I smell roses, it always brings me back to the ice cream parlor inside Clissold Park.

The design in one section of Neely’s Barbeque Parlor was reminiscent of the ice cream parlor I used to visit in London with my mom.

Depending on where you are seated, there is a different feel in the atmosphere for each separate dining area at Neely’s Barbeque Parlor; as the design is different in each area, but also unified.

With black and white photos hung throughout the restaurant, which may or may not be family photos, I really felt like I was walking into a home.

I and my friends were lucky enough to be seated in a private, carpeted room with dark red damask wall paper, adorned with gold frames and chairs covered in velvety softness.

The room was lit by a chandelier which was suspended above the dining table. Stepping into this room, I didn’t feel like I was dining at a restaurant. I felt like I was down south in the dining room of a big breasted woman who only referred to me as “Baby”. I felt like I should have worn a big fancy hat, gloves and carried a hand fan in my purse for this affair. I felt like I should have a French-Creole accent and speak in a passionate tone of voice as my friends and I passed the food around the table to each other.

There was also an iPod dock in the room so that you could control your own music, but we weren’t able to figure this out.

Now to the food. Sorry, no happy hour special here, but the food is still very affordable.

See their menu:

If you are a Muslim or you are depriving yourself from sweet, succulent swine for another reason, this might not be the restaurant for you as there will be fewer dinner selections. But for me it was heaven! I learned that Mrs. Neely’s favorite animal is a pig so most of the dishes are made with pork. Sigh, a woman after my own heart.

From the appetizer menu, I had the Pulled Pork Hushpuppies with spicy Carolina dipping sauce; I’m not much of a saucey girl, I tried it, but I ate my hushpuppies sans sauce. Everyone else loved the sauce, though. I also tasted the Cornmeal Fried Mississippi Catfish. YUM!! A little crunch on the outside, soft, flakey fish on the inside.

For my entrée I had, the Memphis Style Baby Back Ribs (Dry) with Sweet Potato Fries. I couldn’t finish it, but it was just as tasty when I gobbled up my leftovers the next day.

For dessert (I ordered to go. I wasn’t gonna miss out on this!!) I ordered the Red Velvet Cake. The huge slice of cake they served me, with filled me with joy because I knew that I wouldn’t eat a slice of cake that size in one sitting. (I LOVE cake) I ate half that night and throughout the night, I took just one more bite; just one more bite; just one more bite…until the cake was gone. That slice of cake never stood a chance.

The service:

Our waitress was a little bit of a space cadet, but she was pretty and very nice. See, I followed up one negative with two positives. I will give her a free pass because the restaurant had had its grand opening only three days before.

There were fancy plates and napkins that were set on the table which we weren’t supposed to use for eating. I guess they were just placed on the table as a display and were supposed to be removed before our food arrived, but that is not what happened. I began to feel un-special as the waitress walked around the table to remove the plates and napkins after our appetizers arrived and one of us had already started using one of the plates to eat; because what are plates used for if you can’t use them to eat. I felt like the plates and napkins were only to be taken out and used for the ‘good-company’ and we were not one of the good.

See the "Good Company" place setting:

The waitress forgot to bring some dishes, brought duplicate dishes and added dishes to our bill that we did not order, but all can be forgiven if the issues are resolved, and they all were!

The bathrooms:

I always have to go there. In more ways than one. (he-he). Everything I drink goes right through me, so the bathroom being on the lower level of the restaurant, away from the dining floor wasn’t fun. But that’s only my opinion; people with normal bladders might not mind this at all.

The stalls in bathroom, although clean and good smelling were dark. So dark, that you could hardly find the lock on the bathroom door because you couldn’t see.

All in all I had a fantastic time at this restaurant and I cannot wait to go back again!!

I kind of get the feeling that us being seated in the private room was a one time deal. I think that as the place becomes more popular, you might have to reserve that space and place a deposit before you can be seated there. But that's just my thought. The restaurant could very well stay the way it is, with its lovely, southern charm.

Visit their website to view more if their menu options.

Enjoy, and until next time, happy eating!

~Louise C.
Photos by Neely's Barbeque Parlor

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