Upper East Side, NYC — As a native New Yorker, I've grown (rightfully) continually dissatisfied with the lack of variety and creativity among the food vendors in most street and avenue festivals throughout the five boroughs. For the most part it's the same Italian sausage-&-peppers hero booths, corn cakes with mozzarella stands, and empanada vendors every three blocks or so.
I don't let it stop me though from scoping the the festival streets in the hopes that someone will be doing something new and inspirational for me to discover.
Such was the case this past weekend when I happened upon the long-length stand(s) for the Kosher barbecue purveyors from Yonkers, The Wandering Que (Kosher Texas Roadside Smokehouse BBQ).
Though it did indeed take me some time to divine the origin of the Wandering Que name, the menu made it quite clear. And hard to think of any barbecue as new or inspiration, but Jewish pitmaster Ari White (the crowned 2016 Brisket King of NYC) keeps his menu pork-free, prompting him to amend his already award-winning versions of the familiar brisket, with BBQ "pulled" versions of chicken and beef, and replacing pork with lamb to slow-smoke his iterations of ribs, belly bacon, pancetta, even banh mi sandwiches.
The idea of lamb ribs was new and inspirational enough for me, so I saddled up for a half order, served with a crisp slaw, bright pickles, and a mint-laden chimichurri.
I am an avid fan of lamb, with its nuanced, earthy yet sweet slight gaminess, and was quite impressed with the success of the smoking of the ribs. These, like pork ribs, boasted a fat cap-like layer, that crisped up nicely without toughening. The skin and fat rendering sweet juice into the leaner meats, boosting the natural flavor even more. And the chimichurri respectfully complimented the smoky sweet lamb meat, with its acidic bite, heady aromatic from the mint, and well-rounding other spices.
Out of the two or three food vendors I was trying to decide to visit, I am very glad I was able to catch up with Wandering Que — who I've been hearing very positive things about for some time now. And lucky enough for me, knowing full well it might be eons before I make it to Yonkers to eat (or even Brooklyn, where I hear they're heading next), they choose to set up shop just two blocks from my front door.
The Wandering Que | 311 Central Park Ave, Yonkers, NY | (917) 584-2310 | wanderingque.com