Vic's Backyard Bar-B-Q Barn serves great links and ribs, but its owner isn't from around here

The lead dog in the New York barbecue pack is former London hairdresser Robert Pearson. After a trip to Dallas to teach hair-cutting tips, Pearson became obsessed with barbecue. In 1992, he set up his first Texas barbecue parlor in the New York environs, complete with an imported Oyler rotisserie. The English barbecue stylist uses absolutely no seasonings, not even salt on his brisket. And he has some other odd ideas: "The less smoke you can see, the better the barbecue," he told The New York Times.

He hopes to see no smoke at all when his new restaurant, Pearson's Texas BBQ, opens on East 81st Street on Manhattan's Upper East Side. And to accomplish that feat, his rooftop chimney will be fitted out with a fancy new smoke-eater. A high-tech contraption the Times describes as a "$36,000 electrostatic precipitator" will zap the barbecue exhaust until there's nothing left but thin air. What effect the equipment will have on the Oyler's performance remains to be seen.

Like Victor Torres, these New Yorkers will turn out some tasty smoked meats, but they will be served without the customary side order of Texas folklore. If you want to see what the New York barbecue experience might be like, you need travel no further than Vic's Backyard Bar-B-Q Barn on Fondren. You'll eat some great links and ribs, but you'll also get the feeling that these folks aren't from around here.

At Victor Torres's barbecue joint, the pork ribs and 
sausage sandwich just might convert you to 
mesquite-smoked 'cue.
Troy Fields
At Victor Torres's barbecue joint, the pork ribs and sausage sandwich just might convert you to mesquite-smoked 'cue.


Bar-B-Q BarnLinks plate: $6.45
Pound of links: $8.99
Pork ribs plate: $7.25
Pound of pork ribs: $8.99
Three-meat dinner: $8.45
Jumbo baked potato topped with barbecue: $5.89
5625 Fondren, 713-784-3215. Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays.

A real Texas barbecue joint is more than a place to eat meat -- it's a place where you can smell history in the wood smoke.

In answer to The New York Times's question about the possibility of authentic Texas barbecue in New York, I said, "Let me put the question in New York terms: If you chemically filtered Houston city water so it was the same as New York tap water, and used the same flour, and brought in the same ovens, could you make authentic New York bagels in Texas? Yes and no."

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