American Glory BBQ – September 2010 (dt)
6.29 – 7.5, 7.3, 7, 6.5, 6, 5.5, 5.5, 5

Bold physicality leapt as we stood on the sidewalk as we peered through the ten open feet of space from the folded back glass panels. Gobs of brick wall and dark stained wood paint the backdrop, while the thirty foot bar and the TV’s glow add some context. On a rather cool evening, we entered through the regular door under a white-background entry sign that boldly states the restaurant’s existence. This is in contrast to Swoon next door (Hudson’s Warren Street), which furtively sneaks behind the shrub-hidden entry way, under a subdued sign (Sep ’08).
               The brickness either overpowers or exudes a warmth. Formerly one of Hudson’s firehouses, the building has been renovated with as much intact as possible. Downstairs is the bar and casual area, the bar spiked with beer tap handles, and ringed by a dozen tall tables and long-legged chairs, with an impressively large HD TV presenting a game this Sunday night (this seems like the sixth month in a row we have not been able to pick or stay with our original Saturday start!). A nearly empty room left time and space to notice the architecture.
               Shortly, we were escorted up an ornate staircase (for a firehouse), leading from the back of the first floor into the midsection of the upper floor, again with the same style bricking from floor to ceiling. The glossy hardwood flooring softens the brick, while the ceiling of replicated tin (both downstairs and up) had us craning our necks in admiration.
               Upstairs is more formal but, still, a warm casualness permeates. About 50’ x 20’, the upper room held four tables on the stair side; a wall-length banquette anchoring the opposite side with facing four-person tables, except for the round table at the curved end; and three tables running down the middle space. Just out of sight was a back room with a red cushion pool table, with suffused light pouring through the door opening.
               The bare, wood-veneer tables were adorned with a rack of plastic bottles of BBQ sauces and with linen-wrapped settings of a solid fork and knife.
               The lighting is worth its own mention. A box soffit lines the entire room, holding the venting, alarm and recessed lighting. This recessed lighting, 8-10 units along the long walls, spotlighted the walls in a dramatic arch effect. Meanwhile, strands of eight-foot metal lines dangled above each table, ending in a top shade over a reddish-orange halogen-type light that was a bit bare but exuded just enough light to add atmosphere. 
               Two floor-to-ceiling south-end windows – shaded, and trimmed with dark woodwork – give more flair.
               At face level are photos, about a dozen lining each wall length of the building, of famous people, scenes, a few in color, breaking the expanse of brick and also creating another focus.

We had the advantage of knowing the server, a colleague from C-D HS – Lili. Menus were presented, and server-in-training, Natasha, started to take the drink order. We were not ready yet, listened to the beer and wine choices (no menu ready!), wanted to know more, sampled the Purple Haze beer, and finally settled in. Eventually, a rather untypical DP8 order arose – glasses/mugs of the Chatham Blond Ale, Chatham Scotch Ale, Coors Light (Kriss, yeay!), the pinot noir, a syrah, a chardonnay, a diet soda, and just plain water.
               Water soon arrived, in quart-sized Mason canning jars, with a straw extruding. Interesting statement.
               We pored over the menu, trying to make sense of all the choices and combinations – a half dozen appetizers (most with Southern-feel cute names), a half dozen salads, a few vegetarian platters, almost ten sandwiches, a few of the ‘other’ category (I should have had the meat loaf), about ten entrées, a few combination possibilities, and about ten sides (most with a Southern flair). We questioned, negotiated for changes, had more questions and were finally ready.
               Choices included the pork roast special of freshly roasted-on-the-grounds pork, a roasted ear of corn, and sides of beans and creamy coleslaw (Deb T, all good except for her dislike of pasty beans; Judy, food & plate were cold, pork was ok with BBQ sauce; Tim, liked the pork, beans, creamy potatoes); the grilled half-pound burger, with fries and macaroni & cheese (Kriss, good comfort food); the Tallahassee Turkey Drumstick, with jalapeno and cranberry jelly, and the two sides (Deb K, very good, and one was enough); a combo of St. Louis and Spare Ribs (Chay; good but two of each seemed a bit underwhelming); a combo of Texas beef brisket and Texas Hash (Don; a rare beef choice, tasty brisket, hash felt like pulled beef, an ok choice for the evening and place); and the Morning Glory combo of pulled pork, 2 spare ribs, 2 St Louis ribs, and Texas hash (Ken, liked a lot, couldn’t find a single thing to find fault with ). A side of corn bread accompanied each plate except for the burger.
               A fullness of bellies encouraged a few to not partake in dessert but others could not resist. Don split a Chocolate Mess Cake with Deb T (delicious, even if a bit undersized for the price); Apple Crisp (Ken, very good, even if a large portion!); and the Red Velvet Cupcakes with thick vanilla icing (Kriss, consumed one, donated the other to the table, good); and Chay enjoyed his sip of Sambuca (pleasurable, as usual).
               Service was an interesting combination. Lili certainly was energetic, vivacious, helpful to every degree, stayed around to talk longer than would normally be possible on a busier night, and helped steer us through the menu; she capably covered our table while Natasha took a smaller table. Lili made what could have been a tough evening a genuinely interesting one.
               One disquieting note was no food appeared on our table until the entrées appeared about an hour after seating, which would have felt longer if we had not gnoshed at the Adams the hour before. Even a small basket of corn bread might have done the trick. And the lack of a wine/beer list does not do service to the restaurant. And, then, a few had psyched themselves for blueberry pie for dessert but it was sold out when we got to it. The inconsistent warmth of food was mystifying, while the lapse of time between the first serving of four from the next was a bit uncomfortable. Minor points, we allowed ourselves to think, but still to be reconnoitered.
                Ken and Chay sat at the head of the table, with threes down the sides, and we heard everyone’s talk this evening, partially because there were only two other busy tables. We were wondering what the noise level might be on a full night.
                Seating was comfortable, with padded seats in the chairs, which had a three horizontal piece back (as did the tall chairs downstairs). The banquette worked fine, with a reasonably comfortable back. The plain wood-veneer tables stood on end legs which I think worked well with no knee collisions.
               The final bill – along with tax, drinks, and tip – came to $65 per couple, one of our least expensive evenings, although we had no appetizers, no bottles of wine, and only half had desserts.
               The Adamses were relieved that DP8 survived an unusual pick for them (although they did start years ago with Max’s BBQ), a pick that most of us would visit again on our own.

We had started the evening earlier at the Adams’ residence. Bowls/plates of guacamole dip with tomato chunks, accompanied by crispy crackers; peanuts; grapes; several veggie types with cheese-chive-sour cream dip; and a block of cheese with crackers made for a varied choice. Drinks included a Toscolo 2008 Chianti, a range of beers, a white zin, soda, and Prosecco.
               Even Buddy seemed quieter with Tim & Judy having instituted a new training regimen (Chay kept looking for scorch marks!).
               Although we had seen each other two weeks previous, major catching up was the order of the evening. Matt goes to Italy, Jen’s wedding is only two weeks away (wow, tonight was even busier than ever about wedding details, small crises, notes, worrying, and so on, and carrying over to the dinner table where we talked about a dollar dance, Kriss’ dress and other clothing, tux rental prices, seating, motel, RSVP or lack thereof, flowers, certain fingers in pictures, etc.), the Teator trip to NYC, school stuff (beginning of another cycle, arbitrary decisions, staffing, round tables), retirement for you know who, the twins’ birthday party, firehouse poles, Tim keeping a secret, Krypton, a tough calendar in October, M’lady and someone’s objection, plays to see, Kriss wanting Ken’s thing, and more.
               Innuendos were few, so Kriss was not a factor, and someone’s comment about ... was wasted.
               All in all, a change of pace close to home worked well.