Saturday, September 05, 2009

On and Off the Road 1

pj's 1 fig. a: l-r: Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard

We'd been wanting to go to PJ's BBQ in Saratoga Springs for years. Not because we knew anything about it--hell, we didn't even know the name of the place until we were lined up in PJ's bb-queue--but we had admired its roadside style on numerous occasions, and we just had a good feeling about the place. Problem is, every time we'd tried to go there in the past, it hadn't been "bbq season"--PJ's is only open during the warm weather months (this year's opening day was April 18). This time around we were pretty sure we'd finally get a chance to sample "Saratoga-style" barbecue--we were heading down to the Catskills again and it was the height of summer.

I'm still not sure what the distinguishing features of "Saratoga-style" barbecue, but I do know that PJ's cooks their chicken & ribs over an open pit and that they use real charcoal to do so. I also know that someone at PJ's has got a serious '50s fetish--pick-up windows are named after such rock 'n' roll legends as Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, and a parade of '50s hits blares over the P.A. (luckily, the overall effect is more American Graffiti or Gibeau Orange Julep than Johnny Rockets).

pj's 2 fig. b: l-r: ribs, chicken

I can also tell you that while PJ's isn't about to dethrone any of the bbq masters of North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, or Texas anytime soon (for one thing, they offer too many damn sauces) but they have won their fair share of barbecue awards & acclaim, everything is cooked slow & low (as it should be), and visiting PJ's Saratoga-style barbecue at the height of summer, when the ponies are running, is nothing if not a scene. I mean, this joint was jumpin', and the crowds had come ready to eat. PJ's is now over a quarter of a century old, and, by the looks (and taste) of it, they're going strong.

PJ's BBQ, Route 9, South Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY, (518) 583-CHIK & (518) 583-RIBS


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