From the outside, Harbor Q looks like a modern residence. Inside, it’s an impressive looking place, with shiny hardwood floors, brick accents and tablecloths a step up from the usual BBQ checkerboard pattern. A complimentary bowl of house made potato chips, served with a creamy dipping sauce, is a nice touch.
The menu at Harbor Q is also a little more serious than your usual barbecue joint. The most notable difference is a separate clipboard with their salad ordering form; checkboxes allow quick customizing of the ingredients to your palate. BBQ offerings cover the basics: ribs include pork babybacks and a single beef rib; pulled pork and brisket are available on platters or sandwiches; smoked Kreuz Market sausage is available on a sandwich or as an appetizer. Beyond the typical appetizers (chili, two kinds of wings, mini pulled pork sandwiches, mini cheeseburgers), there are a few more ambitious choices, like “Buffalo Soldiers” (egg rolls with Buffalo chicken and Gorgonzola cheese) and quesadillas with pulled pork and aged Gouda cheese. Sandwiches also include burgers, grilled chicken and pulled chicken; entrees also include a rib steak, shrimp skewers, roasted chicken and a salmon fillet.
On a late Saturday afternoon visit, I sampled the HarborQ menu with four members of Long Island based BBQ teams.
We started with the Buffalo Soldiers. These were crispier than your standard issue Chinese egg rolls and served with a sweet and tangy dipping sauce that worked well with the dish. I liked these a lot, though its greatest strength was also its greatest weakness—the Buffalo chicken flavor was overshadowed by the incredible Gorgonzola, a much higher quality cheese than you get with Buffalo wings. We tried the smoked wings as well, and these were crisp despite a liberal—too liberal, I think—use of sweet sauce. The flavor was decent; the size was small.
Ribs can be ordered wet or dry, so we ordered both the beef and pork ribs dry. The most impressive looking of the entrees, the large beef rib had a thick crust and tore apart easily to reveal pink, lustrous meat. Though not particularly smoky or infused with outside flavors, the meat had a very nice texture and a natural beef taste. The babyback ribs were disappointing, with a dry appearance, a dry texture and less flavor than the beef ribs.
Placed atop a slice of white bread, the pulled pork consisted mostly of light meat, with some pink pieces and some bark. The flavor was very plain and the meat was not as moist as it looked.
Thinly sliced brisket had a nice smoke ring on the outside, a crispy crust and decent tenderness. It was a little dry, but this was probably the most flavorful of the meats.
Sauces were decent. I wish they had one that worked better with the pork than sweet sauce.
The sides we tried (collard greens, cole slaw, mac and cheese, baked beans) were all comptent, with no problems but nothing really memorable about them. They struck most of us as very plain across the board, with the mildly smoky baked beans the most flavorful.
The bottom line: Despite two dry meats and muted flavors in most of what we sampled, I think HarborQ at least showed some promise. I’m certainly not ready to give them the thumbs-up, but I’d give them another try.
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