Route 22 Restaurant has the look and feel of a national chain. It's a slick operation with a slick menu, a slick website and a cool space that leaves no doubt there's money behind it. There are two dining levels, with the upper level overlooking the wide open room. Seating includes tables, booths, roomy banquettes and a separate bar. The decor is all transportation related, with a car hanging from the ceiling and vintage gasoline and tire product signage on the brick walls. Flat screen televisions abound.
Barbecue items include babyback ribs, BBQ chicken and a pulled pork sandwich, but the hostess revealed that these are all oven cooked. Another downside here is the lack of flexibility: there's no 2- or 3-meat combo platters as are commonly found in more traditional barbecue joints. But in its defense, Route 22 is just a restaurant that offers ribs and pulled pork, not a barbecue joint. But these items are just a fraction of the something-for-everyone menu that includes burgers, wings, pizza, old school appetizers (mozzarella sticks, potato skins, chili cheese fries), five different salads, a wide variety of sandwiches (including a seafood po boy and a chef's panini of the day), a couple of steaks and fish items, meatloaf, fajitas and pasta.
Although it had been in my Joints directory a while, I "discovered" that the Stamford location was in the same shopping complex as a New York Sports Club I used earlier that day on a return trip from Long Island. I decided to stop in solo for a take-out Saturday lunch (I ate two doors down; more on that later).
I didn't take advantage of Route 22's wide offering of apps on this visit.
Lacking confidence in the overall outcome and bristling at the $23.99 tarriff for the babyback rib plate, I opted for Route 22's safest route: the Hog Sandwich ($11.99). Having been shorted often on takeout orders, I made sure to ask that napkins and cutlery be put in the bag. But I was stiffed again, as the bartender in charge of the order couldn't locate any plastic forks. That gave me the built-in excuse to take the sandwich next door to Subway, where I ordered a soda to justify the use of their plasticware.
Longtime readers of this site know I'm not a fan of overly saucy 'cue, especially on a pulled pork sandwich, but I can't imagine even the most ardent sauce lover loving this one. The pulled pork was thin and almost liquid in its texture, partly from being overcooked and partly from being drowned in sauce, which occupied at least as much volume as the actual meat. The sauce was a sweet, red, very tomatoey number that seemed to be a mix of ketchup and tomato paste and not much else (this flavor profile seems to be somewhat popular in the New York area). The meat itself had no flavor.
Longtime readers of this site also know that I'm generally a little more lenient of restaurants not claiming to be barbecue. I don't expect the meats to be smoked; I only hope for something somewhat satisfying. There's no leniency here. This sandwich was awful, and awfully expensive.
No extra sauce was placed in the bag, unless you count the ketchup packets that tasted similar to what was on the pork.
Cole slaw nearly as liquid as the pulled pork was far from a saving grace, but it wasn't bad. At least it had some flavor in there, making it a rare overly creamy slaw I finished. Fries were standard frozen fare.
The bottom line: The Stamford outpost of Route 22 has the advantages of easy access off I-95's exit 6, convenient parking and a deep menu that won't have anyone in your party complaining. The disadvantages are the prices, service and food quality, all quite likely to incite complaining.
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