Holy Ground

Holy Ground is a new sacred place for me. I like to call it Tribeca’s answer to the West Village’s 4 Charles. Only here, along with a sexy set-up, you get a bit more space and a hell of a lot more smoke.

Now, don’t get all excited; you can’t smoke here. I’m talking about smoked meats. I struggled with how to categorize this joint, but I ultimately decided to call it BBQ rather than a steakhouse or traditional restaurant, because several of the meat proteins are focused on smoking and/or slow and low roasting. Even their grilled steaks are slow roasted first, to allow flavors to penetrate deep into that tender, pink flesh.

You step into this meat sanctuary on the northwest corner of Reade Street, just east of West Broadway. That’s a mouthful, but read it carefully again and let it sink in. The door is pretty nondescript, but you’ll know you’re in the right place when you see this:

A hostess will lead you through a dimly lit, winding corridor and down a set of narrow, carpeted stairs.

At the bottom of the stairs is a landing with a small but really fucking awesome bar parlor.

From there you can take in the vibe of this place, which is 100% my speed. It’s old tile. It’s dark wood. It’s deep reds. A speakeasy.

A few “rooms” are tucked away in nooks and crannies, up two steps here, around the wall there. Here is booth where we sat:

The four of us did some serious fucking damage. Let me get into it.

The cocktail menu is nice, but I had just tried a couple of cocktails (and a burger) earlier that evening at Manhatta, so I went with my usual: a gin martini. They are a bit on the small side, in those dainty, round, old fashioned martini glasses.

On a second trip, we tried both the red head and the odeon. Both were great. the odeon, on the right, is slammable!

The food menu is pretty meat-forward, but they do have some star quality fish and veggie items, which I will get into shortly.

We started with three apps and an entree to begin. I will tell you up front that we ordered nearly half of the menu, and nothing was bad. But the first thing to come out were these tremendous head-on, grilled red prawns.

They were damn delicious; one of my favorite dishes of the night. The heads hold a lot of juice, so when you pop them off, you may want some bread nearby if you aren’t going to slurp it all directly down your gullet like I did.

Next up was a plate of wings. These are smoked and char grilled, so they carry a fuckton of flavor. A great starter or bar snack.

We also grabbed the radicchio salad, which was one of my favorite items of the night. No shit. These veggies were perfect. I managed to get a shot before it was all gone, but my pic doesn’t do the dish justice. I will be returning soon to get it again.

The return shot:

We shared the beef rib as an appetizer. This is an impressive dish.

You’ll notice that sauce and color across several of the BBQ style dishes here. It has a mustard base with a little smokey and hot kick to it. Absolutely delicious. It’s like a cross of Carolina and Cajun style sauces. Very unique, like nothing I’ve ever tasted before.

The beef itself is slow smoked; tender, but still texturally intact. It isn’t some sloppy, soft, boiled, braised bullshit. This is the real deal. 9/10. And we learned that all the meats they use come from Dartagnan foods, which is a very high end purveyor of top notch proteins and gourmet ingredients.

On a second trip, my wife and I had the pork belly appetizer.

This is easily one of the best dishes I’ve had all year. The crackling is crisp, and that fermented chili sauce is killer. They only have a few of these per night, so go early if you want to try it. It is incredible!

Round two was the big show. This is where we crushed it. We couldn’t really narrow down our selections, so we just ordered everything – even the fish. We each had a different favorite too, which was pretty cool, and usually means that everything is great.

First, the wagyu brisket. This is the half-pound portion size for $21.

Again slow roasted and smoked, topped with that same delicious sauce. This is by far the best brisket I’ve ever eaten. 10/10

Next up, the Kurobuta pork shoulder. This is the individual portion size for $32.

This was so juicy. Extremely tender, and again that sauce really pushed it along into greatness. 8/10.

You may be thinking, “Well, shit, why don’t they come up with some more variety in the sauces on these things?”

My answer is this: most people aren’t ordering every major protein on the menu when they come here. Most likely just one person at the table is getting a dish that has the sauce on it. And most BBQ joints have the same sauce on the table for you to slather onto your meat anyway. No one is complaining there about variety, are they? I say it’s fine. The sauce is delicious, and it works with those three BBQ dishes (pork shoulder, beef brisket, beef rib). It might be on the pork ribs too, which we didn’t try on this run.

Our next protein was the king’s cut prime rib with smoked herb jus.

This baby was cooked dead on to medium rare even though it was smoked for hours first. That is a feat in itself, but it still managed to stay juicy and tender. Bravo. 9/10.

Take a look at how thick it is too, and the size of the cap. This easily feeds two people who have normal appetites, possibly three.

Last but not least in the world of meat was the grilled wagyu rib eye. This “Thousand Dollar Steak,” as it’s called on the menu, is 30-days dry aged and served with a demi-glaze and onion puree.

It, too, is smoked before being grilled. This went a little over, but it was no matter because it was still incredibly tender and flavorful. The sauce reminded me of a really concentrated onion gravy like mom used to make. It had a spectacular cap too. 8/10.

But wait… there’s more! Whole branzino.

This was char-grilled to perfection and served with a nice bright tartar sauce and lemon. One of my buddies said it was just like his mom used to make, and he loved it. This was one of my favorites of the night as well.

On a second trip, I tried both the ribs and the chicken. Both were served in a different sauce than the beef items above. They were different from one another, but both were on the sweeter side. I generally dislike sweet in my entrees, but this was mild and just right, not over the top. The chicken had an almost maple flavor to it.

The half order of ribs is enough. There are eight good-sized ribs.

For sides, we tried the broccoli, collared greens and mac and cheese.

The mac was the most superior of the three for me, and it was wildly tasty when we dragged those thick rigatoni pasta tubes through that delicious BBQ sauce.

I’m not sure how we managed, but we tried a few desserts as well.

This was a raspberry cheesecake, and it was served uniquely in a glass, almost upside down, if you will, with the graham cracker crumble as a topping rather than a crust.

A classic ice cream sundae in a mug. Vanilla and chocolate ice cream, toffee sauce, vanilla crumbs and whipped cream.

This is the Black & Blonde:

The base is a bed of toasted meringue, and on top are some toasted hazelnuts, a white chocolate bar and salted caramel.

This is one of my new favorite places to eat. Not only is the environment great, but the food and service are top notch as well. This place is going to start getting packed out, so make your reservations ASAP. I’m going back again very soon, and again and again as often as I can.

HOLY GROUND
112 Reade St
New York, NY 10013

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