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click to enlarge Baby back ribs paled in comparison to the collards and jalapeño-cheddar cornbread.

Baby back ribs paled in comparison to the collards and jalapeño-cheddar cornbread.

Gwynedd Stuart

Barbecue joint and "speakeasy."

Our Review

There are several nice things to be said about Piggyback Tavern, the decently quaint barbecue joint just off the exceedingly quaint Madison Street in Forest Park. The restaurant's use of mini cast-iron skillets is adorable—though more smartly applied in the case of the bubbling mac 'n' cheese, which is actually cooked in the skillet, than the jalapeño-cheddar corn bread, which merely sits in it (hint: skillet-baked batter might yield a less cakelike result). Piggyback's mac 'n' cheese is everything a mac 'n' cheese should be but so often is not: creamy and sharp and gooey and browned. It was the best serving of mac 'n' cheese I had all week, and I had four. But Piggyback’s main attraction is meant to be the barbecue. And it's at this point that there are no more nice things to be said. I smelled the baby back ribs before they landed on the table. It was a smell that, sadly, foretold of the taste: utter incineration. Most traces of actual meat had disintegrated under the scab of char, and the result was like running your tongue up a coal chute. No amount of house-made sauce—"Carolina," "Smokey Sweet," or "Zesty"—could salvage the remains of the poor pig that gave its life for this.

Mara Shalhoup

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Price: $$
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