|By JULIETTE ROSSANT|
It's a fact of life that college folks ain't got no common sense. You would think that the kids at Mount St. Mary's in Emmitsburg, MD, just south of Gettysburg, PA, would be packing a joint in the restaurant-bleak but otherwise beautiful Appalachian mountains. So, after reading Tom Sietsema's review in the Washington Post , I took my family out to Chubby's this Columbus Day weekend and dared the crowds -- I mean, comedian-actor Bill Murray shucked out a tip there more than double his meal, the food was so good. Yesterday after noon, we approached with some trepidation to the crossroads of Rt. 15 and the Old Frederick Road...
We found a fair number of cars for the place's size, but, mercifully, no crowd. Hickory smoke greeted us as we entered, and I remembered Tom Sietsema's description of a "vintage roadside restaurant circa 1950s" -- that was an understatement. These days "retro" (1950s in Los Angeles, for instance, is nearly pre-historical) implies mostly retro-fitting, but Chubby's is untouched except by the patina of time.
Now, I have a real hankering for grilled meats and barbeque. Maybe it's from years of eating grilled shish kabob and quail in Istanbul, mangal in Bursa, baby lamb chops in Trabzon, wild boar in Moscow, and pork kebobs in Almaty. Crossing the US with my family while writing Super Chef, I searched for authentic Kansas City Barbeque, led by Calvin Trillin's recommendations. Lately, it so happens, I've been looking for a mid-Atlantic specialty – succulent pulled pork and ribs: Chubby's has both.
The pulled pork was piled high, caramelized, and sweet all along the edges, rich meat in the interior. The ribs were tasty enough to eat without extra barbeque sauce, meaty, fat melted away to form a moist crust. The sides – tender corn bread, tangy saeurkraut with chunks of pork, and baked beans with still more pork -- were packed with flavor. Slight disappointment came with the fatty beef brisket; however, my three-year-old son adored it. We washed the protein feast down with Boylan's ginger beer. The desserts are retro with some hits and misses. The traditional carrot cake came chuck-a-block with coconut, pecans, and light creamcheese frosting; the slices of bread pudding (looking like so much sliced pork) were too dense for me, with chocolate chips and thick custard. Service was friendly, cheerful, and confident of food quality. There is more to the menu to explore next time, including the home-made chili (again, stocked with left-over barbeque), pies, and cobbler.
Former banker, Tom Caulfield, Chubby's owner since 2002, is just the kind of quiet barbeque fanatic who would care to make home-made potato chips and four kinds of barbeque sauce. After our meal, he explained to me that he hadn't gone to culinary school but just loved barbeque. Some stuff you just don't learn in school.
Route 15 north at Old Frederick Road
(16430 Old Frederick Rd # A)
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
1 (301) 447-3322