(This venue is closed.) Celebrated BBQ restaurant Rack & Soul has lined up behind Barack Obama in name, if not pronunciation.
Just down the street from Obama's first New York apartment, the restaurant now serves a Barack & Soul '08 T-shirt ($20). Little surprise that at a BBQ joint, all sizes but small and medium are sold out (more may be ordered, depending on demand).As for the food: Shrimp and okra gumbo (cup; $5.95) was lightly peppered, with notable porkiness from tasso ham (which is not ham at all, but spiced, hot-smoked pork shoulder). BBQ baby-back ribs (shown on an early visit; half-rack, $17.95), were slathered in a terrific sweet sauce. The thin, flavorful coating of the pan-fried chicken ($11.95) was crisp without straying into crunchiness and sealed in very moist meat (next time I'll ask for more dark). Each entree was accompanied by a wad of mac 'n' cheese, golden and springy, and chopped collard greens that were almost more sweet than vinegary. Some other sides have inclined toward sweetness, too, but not so far as the red velvet cake ($6), which was very sweet indeed, all icing aside.
Rack & Soul
258 West 109th St. (near Broadway)