For much of the more than two decades that this column has brought you the best in local gustatory gluttony, it was penned by otherwise respected journalists masquerading as anonymous restaurant raconteurs until a few years ago, when bylines were added.
So I had to do a little digging to find out who wrote my all-time favorite column lead, from 2003 when Munch visited a suburban barbecue chain.
Near the end of the meal … our attentive waiter asked the common question, “Will there be anything else this evening?”
“Yes,” Munch said. “A bed. Bring me a bed.”
I could have been asleep in 45 seconds after … another caloric blitzkrieg … it’s not the kind of meal you can readily walk off, if you will. Unless you’re walking to, maybe, Tucson.
Gene Collier, ladies and gentlemen.
I invoke the words of the inimitable sports columnist, because that’s roughly how I felt after a meat-heavy meal at Twelve Whiskey Barbecue on the South Side.
Opened first as a bro-tastic nightclub (simply Twelve) in early 2014, a kitchen was part of the plan from the very beginning and finally came to fruition in June. As the new name indicates, the focus is barbecue and smoked meats from chef Alex Balint, who also runs the popular Doce Tacqueria next door. Since opening in spring 2015, Doce (which means “twelve” in Spanish) has developed a cult following in the neighborhood for its quality tacos that are reliably fresh, fast, inexpensive and delicious.
However, Twelve Whiskey Barbecue has some work ahead to meet the standard of consistency set by its sister establishment.
An order of fried green tomatoes with a Cajun remoulade ($6) was a fun and tasty opening, and our wings ($13 for a dozen) were very good. We ordered their hottest variety, the “Mr. Bill’s Revenge XXX,” and they came out a glowing bright orange, like a plate of magma. We were afraid to touch them at first but bucked up and were rewarded with a crispy skin, juicy meat and a slowly building heat that made our ears sweat. But a mug of Abita root beer aided in the cooling, as did a pint of Fat Head’s Headhunter IPA.
My half rack of pork ribs ($15) were three-quarters of the way there: good smoke, decent bark, terrific sauce, but the meat was a bit too dry. Conversely my fiancee’s smoked chicken leg ($15) was moist, fall-off-the-bone perfection.
Each entree comes with a pair of sides, and I’d make a special trip there just for the Kansas City cheesy corn: an awesome goopy little casserole that was sweet, spicy and smoky, all at the same time and something I’d never had before.
The hamburgers are quite literally award winning -— they captured the first place and people’s choice awards at last weekend’s third annual Pittsburgher gourmet hamburger competition.
Over two visits, service was erratic: warm and polite at times, at others we seemed to interrupt whatever else it was our waitress planned on doing while at work. Also, while it would seem perfectly acceptable to play Swedish House Mafia at sonic boom levels late on a Friday night with the glow sticks and MDMA broken out, on a Sunday afternoon with a rack of ribs it is a bit much. Maybe curate the playlist, guys.
Twelve has plenty of room to grow, but we did have a good time and loved the look of the place. The bar back is handsome, constructed from antique cabinet hutches, and the top is poured concrete. Clean white subway tile envelops the room, which is filled with handsome woodwork and colorful murals on exposed brick. The whiskey, tequila and beer lists are well above snuff, the food is mostly good, and the wide fishbowl windows give a nice view (with running commentary) of the sea of humanity outside on Carson Street.
Twelve Whiskey Barbecue: 1222 E. Carson St., South Side. 412-742-4024; http://www.twelvepgh.com.
Dan Gigler: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter @gigs412.