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Maybe Capital Q Is Not For You

July 30, 2009

I like Celina Ottaway, I really do.  Occasionally she even posts comments here.  But culinarily we have our differences.  I like Five Guys and she likes In-N-Out burger.  She likes Inga’s Diner and I prefer Dewey’sI love Capital Q and…well, I don’t think she’ll be going back there ever again.

You see, she wrote this review for the Times Union.

It’s long, I know.  You won’t have to read the whole thing because I am not going to quibble on matters of taste.  I find it authentic, she doesn’t.  She likes some of the sides, which I couldn’t care less about, because for me it’s all about the meat.  But these differences aren’t terribly interesting.

It is really on page two of her review that she and I diverge on a matter of substance.

If you are not going to read the review, here is the brief synopsis.  Capital Q had counter help that got easily overwhelmed and demanded that customers order fried foods first, before ordering anything else.  The tone of the counter help was less than gentlemanly.  And ultimately this one employee had a dust up with one of the reviewer’s equally confrontational guests.

For the record, that guy is no longer there.

But that’s not my point either.  My point is that Capital Q is a joint.  It’s not a restaurant.  It is a food stand.  It does not even pretend to be a fancy one at that.  They do not take credit cards.  Everything is served in plastic tubs or styrofoam boxes.  There isn’t a plate or piece of silverware to be found.  There aren’t even any chairs.  Just six stools in the front window and two picnic tables outside.  One for each month you might be able to actually enjoy eating outside in Albany.

And joints can have attitude, especially if that joint cooks the best food of its kind in the area.  I might even argue that joints should have attitude.  I think about The Wieners Circle in Chicago, where if you don’t order correctly, or if you stall, the ladies on the grill will curse you out the likes of which you have never seen.  Or about my favorite pizza place in San Francisco where Spencer T. witnessed an absolutely amazing moment of customer service (ok, seriously, this you have to read).

In fact because I have had such surly service at some of the greatest food joints, I have come to expect it as the sign of a truly great place.  If customers will keep coming back given this level of abuse, the food must be truly fantastic.  And generally it is.

What makes me nervous is when I walk into a pizza joint and people are friendly.  It just feels wrong.  Where is the ’tude?  How can you not have a chip on your shoulder, when you make the best pizza in the area and nobody except for a select and chosen few truly appreciate it?

The thing is that when you go into a joint you have to approach it on its terms, not yours.  Capital Q doesn’t surprise you with its attitude.  It puts it front and center in its web address:

So yes, the ordering system is haphazard.  No, it’s not a polished operation.  Maybe you will encounter someone with attitude, although maybe all the ’tude left the building with that one guy.  But you know what?  You wait.  You are patient.  You are respectful.  And when you are done, you are rewarded with the best barbecue in the Capital District, hands down.  For me, that is more than a fair tradeoff.

But then again, I have waited outside for an hour in the cold for pizza.  I once pushed a stroller for 45 minutes through the rain to get a bagel.  I spent four hours in a car just to eat breakfast at a friend’s favorite restaurant.

Putting up with a rude employee is a cakewalk.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Daniel Cross Turner permalink
    July 30, 2009 11:18 am

    Capital Q is some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had, especially the South Carolina style. Service has always been friendly. Love the sides too. Awesome eats.

  2. July 30, 2009 4:23 pm

    In the last two weeks I have eaten from their truck in the plaza probably 6 times, so I am right there with you. They are fantastic.

  3. July 31, 2009 2:47 pm

    i like yr word usage. it’s a joint : )

  4. July 31, 2009 8:16 pm

    Inspired by you, I have weighed in on this issue. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say in this post.

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