Monday, July 6, 2009

Phil's BBQ and the Art of Gluttony

Phil's BBQ
3750 Sport Arena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110
619 226-6333
Tuesday-Thursday, Sunday 11 am - 10 pm
Friday and Saturday 11 am - 11 pm

There are those who enjoy good food in moderation, who order reasonable quantities at restaurants, eat sensibly, and saunter home with a light step. The CA Scotch Couple are not among them. When food worth eating is in the offing, the CA Scotch Couple order extravagantly, savor as much as they can, pack up the rest, and waddle home with full happy tummies. They often have to have table leaves opened to accommodate the number of dishes ordered; Chinese waitresses invariably counsel "gòu le" (enough); and other patrons are bold enough to remark on the plethora of dishes crowding their table.

For all that, the CA Scotch Couple are much more restrained these days than they used to be. Back when they could eat whatever they wanted and not put on too many pounds, they had been known to polish off those same dishes they are now packing up and then stop by for a Tasty Treat on the way home. It has been awhile since they have been able to indulge to excess in that manner. That is why their experience with Phil's BBQ the other evening was so much fun.

CA Scotch Gent had first been introduced to Phil's when he arrived at a corporate function Phil's was catering and smelled Phil's handy dandy portable smokers before he even turned the corner. Now CA Scotch Chick is not the jealous type. If she were to ever catch a whiff of perfume about her Gent (not that she ever has or expects to), she would attribute honest intentions to him and demand a reasonable explanation. However, when CA Scotch Gent starts coming home smelling of savory wood smoke, CA Scotch Chick can't help but experience a pique of green eyed envy over what should have been a threesome. Consequently, when the CA Scotch Couple decided to invite the Iron Couple over for a meal, CA Scotch Chick seized the opportunity to carry in some 'Q.

Now, there are lots of definitions of BBQ, and CA Scotch Chick is not about to get in an internet shouting match over the relative merits of the different kinds. She will simply say that she adores baby back ribs, and according to CA Scotch Gent Phil's did a kick a*# baby back rib.

Phil's BBQ used to be located in a charming building in the San Diego neighborhood known for its restaurants – Hillcrest. It had an established reputation and lines out the door. Phil's aficionados were aghast last year when Phil's packed up shop and moved to a strip mall on Sports Arena Blvd, not an area known for its restaurants. The resulting space is much larger and more sterile, but it isn't unpleasant, and there are still lines out the door.

The CA Scotch Couple had to be out and about, so they looked up the menu on line and phoned in their order – four slabs of the baby backs and four sides (at the last minute CA Scotch Gent called out for CA Scotch Chick to add a large order of onion rings). When the CA Scotch Couple arrived at Phil's, the infamous line was stretching around the building, but since they had possessed the foresight to phone ahead, they were able to scoot around it and sail right in to the deserted phone order line.

The gluttony started before they even left the parking lot. CA Scotch Chick inquired as to why CA Scotch Gent had ordered onion rings since they wouldn't be good by the time the Iron Couple arrived. He just grinned at her, put down the top of their PT Cruiser convertible ("PT"), opened the box, and dug in.

Phil's onion rings had real promise. They were plentiful and piping hot, and the breading was robust and flavorful. They just lacked salt. True gluttons are not without resources, however, and PT had been on many food adventures, so CA Scotch Gent rooted around in the glove compartment and unearthed several packets of salt. The result was onion rings worth repeating. The CA Scotch Couple happily scarfed the entire order before wiping their greasy fingers and heading back.

Once home they began laying the ribs out on a cookie sheet so that they could simply pop them in the oven while their guests were on hand. The sights and smells were torturously tantalizing. When they came upon a portion of a caramelized burnt end like slab, it was simply more than the CA Scotch Couple could bear. Without a shred of remorse, they snagged it.

The ribs were amazing. They had a perfect caramelized, smoky taste with just the right amount of sauce. Less than an hour after they had wolfed down a large order of onion rings and less than half an hour before their guests were due to arrive, the CA Scotch Couple dug in and polished off half a slab of baby backs. Ah, gluttony, how we have missed you. It was like old times.

The evening was a rousing success. The ribs were paired with Macallan 17, and although a smokier whisky might have been more appropriate, the sweet went well with the sauce. Best of all, the happy couples dipped into the Highland Park 30 for their after dinner drinks. At the end of the night, the CA Scotch Couple bid their guests farewell and waddled off to bed with full happy tummies.

Oh, and for those Loyal Scotch Chix Fans wondering how the CA Scotch Couple could possibly keep up their facade and eat with their guests after all that food, never fear. The CA Scotch Couple had no problems at all. After all, they've perfected the art of gluttony over the years.

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