Monday, April 25, 2016

Off the Map: We'd Rather You Be Fast Than Nice to Us

Pork Ribs -- Ronnie's BBQ, Richmond, VA
If there is one surefire way to get a low rating on this blog, it is to irritate Vodka.  And if there's one surefire way to irritate Vodka, it is through slow service.  So let's just say that it is quite evident that the workers at Ronnie's Ribs in Richmond, VA, have never taken a gander at this blog.
Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid
Vodka is in Richmond to meet her college roommates, Diet Coke and Whiskey Sour, for a weekend of nerding it up in Williamsburg.  Unfortunately (especially for the Ronnie's BBQ staff, who is now going to be forced to deal with Vodka sans the benefit of a buffer), flight delays have left said roommates circling the premises, while Vodka makes her way to Ronnie's alone via the world's chattiest Uber driver.  
Dear Uber Drivers of the World, We Prefer Silence. Signed, Vodka and Ginger
Upon entering the premises -- which is little more than a glorified shack along the side of the road -- Vodka finds a line approximately eight people deep.  In New York, this line would take -- at most -- ten minutes to get through.

In Virginia, Vodka will be lucky if she makes it out before the end of the weekend.
Save Yourselves! Go Forth to Williamsburg Alone!
Upon eventually making it to the cashier, Vodka asks for two orders of the rib combo, which features Delilah Winder's Best Thing I Ever Ate BBQ pork ribs from the BAR-B-QUE episode.  Each combo comes with a choice of two side dishes, so Vodka picks French fries and baked beans for one, and cole slaw and potato salad for the other.  
These Varied Choices Will Come Back to Bite Her
At this point, Vodka moves off to the side to await her meal, which is when two things become blatantly obvious:

1. The Ronnie's BBQ workers are some of the nicest, friendliest, and most pleasant anywhere, and
2. Vodka could never live in the South.
And Not Just Due to the Neon Tinge of Their Potato Salad
You see, Ronnie's BBQ seems to have spent all of their training dollars to fund geniality instead of efficiency, which is pretty much the opposite of Vodka's priorities in life.  As her waiting Uber tab grows by the seconds, and the seconds turn into minutes and then TWENTY MINUTES, Vodka does everything other than leap over the counter to begin to put together the meal herself.
Clearly This Award Criteria Did Not Account for Speed of Execution
Finally -- FINALLY -- Vodka's number is called, and the worker tasked with presenting the food to the customers opens both styrofoam containers to reveal Vodka's choices.  And it soon becomes obvious why this ritual -- which would generally seem like a waste of precious time -- goes down, as the order is incorrect.
At This Point, Vodka Should Have Just Quit While She Was Not Ahead and RAN
Instead of different side dishes, both orders of ribs feature French fries and baked beans.  When Vodka points out the error, said worker heads to the back to fetch separate containers of cole slaw and potato salad, all while apologizing.  No problem, right?  This will only take another thirty seconds -- or MAYBE one minute -- right?

TEN MINUTES LATER, there are still no side dishes. 
Presumably the Kitchen Staff Is Too Busy Making Bulletin Boards to Actually COOK
At this point, Vodka has just about lost her mind, both because she doesn't want to pay hundreds of dollars to Uber for a few cold ribs, and because the Ronnie's premises are growing increasingly hot and stuffy.  When the potato salad and cole slaw eventually appear, the same worker opens them to reveal TWO POTATO SALADS.

Now, this has just taken a turn for the ridiculous.
Somebody Please Put Vodka and This 1983 Boombox Out of Their Misery
When the correct order is finally assembled, three containers of Ronnie's special BBQ sauce are tossed in the plastic bag of styrofoam... and immediately, like something out of a cartoon, they spill.  Down the bag and onto the cartons, like the whole thing is bleeding BBQ.  
At This Point, Ronnie's Is in Negative Star Rating Territory
And Vodka, who is too fed up at this point to care, hightails it back to the airport to share the assembled mess with Diet Coke and Whiskey Sour.
Sayonara, Ronnie. Can't Say This Was Fun
While waiting, Vodka very carefully disassembles the package, both because of the streaks of sauce and because she had been warned about how to open the styrofoam containers ("Watch out because these don't really close.  We weren't supposed to order these anymore, but we somehow got them anyway.")  Once she manages to make some semblance of a display, she begins photographing the food, officially becoming the biggest weirdo left in Richmond Airport.  
Would You Care For Some Cole Slaw With Your Suitcase?
Upon tasting, Vodka finds the ribs dry and smoky without the sauce, and slightly improved once the meat has been dipped within it.  While the pork comes off of the bone easily, it is also so fatty that it's difficult to chew, along with a solid degree of burnt musk over the top.  
Oh Good. One Hour Roundtrip to Obtain Charred Ribs
On a good day, these ribs might receive 3 stars for being fine, but not outstanding.  However, Vodka has been aggravated into a bitter funk, and she is outrightly refusing to dole out anything more than 2.
Moral of the Story: UNIMPRESSED
As far as the side dishes, the provided dinner rolls are unremarkable -- they taste slightly stale, with a honey tinge over the top.  
One Could Also Argue That These Rolls Aren't Necessary If Their Absence Would Make the CONTAINERS CLOSE
The potato salad is sweet from a solid helping of relish (not preferred), and the cole slaw is verging on tasteless (actually, it would be better if it were tasteless.  This cole slaw has a taste... it's just a bad one).  
Going from Bad... Even Worse
The baked beans are definitely the most successful of the lot, as the soggy and limp French fries would taste great... if they were leftover from yesterday. 
And Lucky For Us, We Have a Double Helping of Them!
When Diet Coke and Whiskey Sour taste this conglomeration of food, they both rank the ribs as a 3-star dish, namely because they didn't have to live through the past hour of Vodka's life which she will never get back.  To add insult to Vodka's irate injury, she calculates that between the $26 Ronnie's price tag and the $24 Uber ride (including the 30 minutes lingering in the Ronnie's parking lot), these third-rate ribs have literally cost $50.
Think of How Much Delicious Airport McDonald's Could Have Been Obtained Instead!
And with prices like that, Vodka might as well have just stayed in New York with the rest of the world's population who values cranky efficiency over incompetent kindness.

Ronnie's BBQ's Pork Ribs: 2 stars

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