‘cue tip

For the past several months, I’ve been lost. Flitting about New York, Los Angeles, Portland and San Francisco, suffering from a loss of words. I’ve had no inkling, or desire even, to write about my culinary adventures. In New York, I had an amazingly underwhelming sirloin/short ribs/foie gras burger at db Bistro Moderne, but a surprisingly good organic beef burger at the new Yankee Stadium. My LA trips were filled with the requisite Johnnie’s french dip pastrami sandwiches; an Asian all-you-can-eat buffet in Gardena (which involved an angry black widow spider and 400 or so spider babies); damn fine Korean BBQ at Manpuku on Sawtelle; and several successful shopping trips to my beloved Surfas kitchen supply house. In Portland, I experienced the bacon maple bar, and an addictive banana with chocolate chips and peanut butter fritter at Voodoo Doughnuts. San Francisco has been made up of a handful of trips to Baby Blues; an admirable first attempt at making lobster tikka masala;  small but tender and tasty (albeit, mildly overpriced)  mussels at Plouf; and several death row meals of steamed lobster at Chef’s restaurant, Yankee Pier. But none of these experiences have provided me the impetus to write again. Until now. And I have an email to thank for it.

When I was growing up in LA, Stern’s was thee place for ribs. A local BBQ joint that was connected to a motor inn in Culver City, this restaurant will always have a special place in my heart – it was a gathering place for birthday parties, banquets, club meetings, or weekend dinners with the family. To me, this prepubescent “any food you can eat with your fingers is cool” kinda girl, Stern’s was da bomb.

Fast forward 38 or so years. San Francisco. I’ve exalted the virtues of Baby Blues a few times on these pages, but have secretly wished that a closer-to-work ‘cue shop would magically appear. Sure, we’ve got places to lunch –  our usual Chinese restaurants, burrito trucks, cheap sandwich shops, Italian cafes and build-your-own salad places around, alas but no BBQ. Friday morning, the BBQ fairy heard my silent cry, waved her magic wand (or was that a pork rib?) and sent me, in the form of the sometimes foodie but always hip email newsletter – Thrillist – news of a  guerrilla BBQ scullery – Sneaky’s.  Guerrilla, because they only take orders via email, and they only smoke, cook, and do their deliveries (only) on a certain number of days, and do this with seemingly only word-of-mouth advertising.   Gotta love that.

The photos on their website looked enticing enough so I shot them a quick, early morning email asking if they’d deliver to Telegraph Hill.  At about 10:00 AM, Pat from Sneaky’s replied to my email – yes, they would be available to deliver baby backs, cole slaw, sweet potato and or mac & cheese for lunch. Huzzah! I showed Annie their website, and after checking them out on Yelp (she’s a big Yelper, I am notably anti-Yelp, however), she gave me a thumbs up and said she’s in for lunch. We got our other partner in lunch crime, Henry, to also share in the bounty. “Three half baby backs, a half pint of sweet potato, a half pint of mac & cheese, please,” I email replied. I sent them our address and phone number, and asked what the delivery charge would be. A few minutes after sending the email off, I got a phone call. “This is Patrick from Sneaky’s. Your total will be $41.00.” “No delivery charge?” I asked reluctantly. “Nope.” Though finding this hard to believe, I accepted it. And so the Sneaky’s  love affair started before I even had a bite.

Right on time, a cute, hipster kid came bounding through our office lobby carrying a couple of bags . “Patrick?” I asked, silently hoping he was. “Yes!” he replied while I silently screamed, “Yes!” myself while secretly doing the Kurt Gibson fist pump in my head. “Here’s some free cole slaw for you, too!” The experience was getting even better. We exchanged money for food and off he went to what I can only imagine his next delivery, while off we went to start our feeding frenzy.

After shooting a few requisite food pics, I pondered the meal before digging in. While I was told that the food arrives cold but a few minutes in the microwave should do the trick, I was still a little skeptical. The seemingly well-seasoned meat looked dry. The mac & cheese was nondescript (as cold mac & cheese normally does). The mashed sweet potatoes looked, well, mashed. After heeding the reheating instructions, I took one end of the half rack in hand and pulled the meat apart from the bone. The meat slid off like a trombone slide. I took a bite. I heard the angels sing. Again and again and again. (And now I know how the angels got to be so cherubic.)  Spicy heat (that initially almost too much but one gets used to it), sweetness, tenderness, with just the right amount of fat to make it ever-so-tasty and juicy, I openly declared my love for Sneaky’s. The sides were just as delectable, but the ribs were the star. Having food that good, at decent prices, AND delivered to your office (by a cute hipster, no less), seemed downright criminal.

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Like the Stern’s of my childhood, and Baby Blues of my adulthood, Sneaky’s now has earned a place in gfork’s BBQ Hall of Flame. And that hipster boy who took my order and delivered the goods to the office? Turns out, he’s one of the owners.

Thank you, Thrillist, thank you, Sneaky’s, for kick-starting this lost girl to write again and for providing the ‘cue muse in which to write about. Rock on.

One Comment on “‘cue tip”

  1. Howard June 22, 2009 at 15:36 #

    Hey. HEY! I’m sittin’ right over right here. It’s not like I’m way back in the corner or anything. Okay, so I’m not as close as Annie, but still. HEY!

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