Spanky's BBQ in midtown Manhattan is a typical modern barbecue restaurant geared to the after work and theater crowds. It's an inviting place, with stacked piles of wood and shelves of dried chile peppers at the entry. Further in, there's an unused smoker with bar seats around it, and trays of hot sauces on a counter. Then there's the huge bar with mirrors reaching skyward to high ceilings, huge pig murals on a red wall, the display case of desserts, and another shelf loaded with 5-lb jugs of Tabasco. It's a slick room with a slick menu. From the looks of the menu graphics, you'd think there were a lot of Spanky's BBQ franchises.
I talked the waitress into substituting pulled pork for chicken on the chicken and rib combo, which came with one side and no cornbread. The ribs were short but thick, and loaded with sauce. There was no bark at all and very little caramelization. They were smoky and pretty tender, but way too sweet. The sauce had a slight Ah So sauce color and flavor. I didn't care for the taste. The pulled pork had a great texture, with a nice mix of chunks and strings. It was tender and pretty good, but had way too much sauce and was way too sweet. The hot sauce definitely helped.
Collard greens (my one allotted side) were chopped into oblivion, with bits of bacon throughout. Again, way too sweet. Are collards ever sweet?
The bottom line: Not a horrible meal, but there's not much to draw me back. If it's mediocre ribs I want, I'd rather go to a lame theme restaurant like Planet Hollywood or the ESPN Sports Zone.