Sun-Tue, 11:30am-10pm; Wed-Thu, 11:30am-11pm; Fri-Sat, 11:30am-midnight
4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R at 14th St.-Union Sq.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
8th St. to 34th St.; First Ave. to Sixth Ave.
Stephen Hanson’s big-box venture occupies the same vast hangar space that once housed his failed Spanish experiment, Barça 18, and it operates according to the same well-rehearsed, volume-oriented principles. The room is ribbed with wood beams, which make it look less like a juke joint than a giant Viking hall, and fitted with a cocktail bar that’s longer than a good-size passenger jet. The well-trained, unfailingly cheerful wait staff are dressed in snappy red T-shirts and come at you in never-ending waves. "Big Lou" Elrose, a former cop from Ozone Park who learned his craft at the great brisket mecca Hill Country, operates two belching smokers in the back, which turn out those three mainstays of the barbecue canon—here, “Carolina” pulled pork, “Memphis-style” baby backs, “Texas smoked” brisket—by the truckload.
Quality is tricky when you’re dealing with this kind of volume, and many hard-core barbecue hounds have dismissed Wildwood on account of that. But Wildwood is more of a big-money New York restaurant and bar than a hard-core barbecue joint. And for a big-money New York restaurant and bar, the barbecue isn’t so bad. My 8-year-old daughter, Jane, gave thumbs down to the dry, spicy-sweet baby backs (“The ones at school are better, Dad”), but she liked the crunchy chicken wings and the fatty, “all-natural” Denver lamb ribs. I wouldn’t recommend the shanky, semi-smoky pulled pork to anyone from North Carolina, but it doesn’t taste bad in sandwich form, buried under pickles and cole slaw. Big Lou’s brisket is the best of the barbecue facsimile on the menu, but his signature sauce (flavored, tragically, with raspberries) needs retooling. The best of the industrial-size desserts is the carrot cake. But beware: Coming on the heels of all this meat, just the sight of this towering, Bunyanesque creation could tip even the most hard-bitten barbecue hound into a deep food coma.Note
The bar offers an impressive 40 varieties of bourbon.Ideal Meal
Chicken wings, Texas smoked brisket and/or Denver lamb ribs.