Ribs are winners at Lewis'



August 03, 2005|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

There are two main culinary ways of dealing with the dog days of summer.

There's the cool approach - gazpacho, smoked salmon and fruit salad, which is fine if you like that kind of thing.

And then there's barbecue. Hey, you're going to be hot, so why not go all the way, with smoky, peppery, vinegary, artery-busting food? And nobody exemplifies this he-man approach more than No. 52, Mr. Ray Lewis.

Which explains why we trudged out into the oppressive late-afternoon air the other day to hit Canton and Ray Lewis' Full Moon Bar-B-Que.

Ray's place got plenty of publicity when it opened earlier this year, but we wanted to see how it handles carryout. The restaurant's separate carryout area has cute floor tiles in Raven black, purple and white.

There are no decorations on the walls, except for two televisions tuned to key channels - ESPN and ESPNews. And, unfortunately, there is no place to sit down, although I suppose customers could, if they want, wait at the bar next door.

Service was pleasant and reasonably prompt. (It took 22 minutes for our enormous order to be prepared.)

We assembled the official City College tasting team and the judges gave the food, for the most part, a solid thumbs-up.

Our favorite were the baby back ribs ($19.99), which were expertly cooked - crispy but not dry and soaked in a red sauce that was both sweet and tangy. The good-sized plate of ribs came with small corn muffins laced with hot pepper. We also appreciated the ribs being served in a stiff cardboard box, which meant they didn't slop around on the drive home. Plus, the cook had cut up the ribs, saving us the trouble.

A burger ($8.99) was expensive but definitely above-average - a big slab of good ground beef on a toasted bun.

In one nod to economy, Ray's offers small barbecue sandwiches costing $4.49 each (instead of the large ones, which run twice as much). The pulled-pork sandwich had plenty of smoky meat, although not quite enough sauce. Pulled-chicken and beef-brisket sandwiches were also quite good, and came with pickles wedged into the meat. Each also came with a side order of chowchow sauce, a tangy blend of mustard and relish.

We enjoyed the Brunswick stew ($4.99), which featured small pieces of pork and chicken in a slow-cooked broth with potatoes and vegetables. The soggy Chop Chop salad ($7.99) was not very good and certainly not very healthful, with bits of bacon and lots of cheese.

For dessert, Key lime pie ($3.99) was a not-so-special version made with plenty of whipped cream and a graham-cracker crust. Chocolate pie ($3.99) had a pastry shell and chocolate filling that reminded us of cake icing that comes in a can, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The parking lot outside Ray's is too small for all the stores and restaurants in the area. But, to our delight, there are also a couple of spaces right in front reserved for carryout patrons. Now, that's progress.

Know about a good carryout? Tell us about it: carry outs@covad.net.

Ray Lewis' Full Moon Bar-B-Que

Food: *** (3 stars)

Service: *** (3 stars)

Waiting area: **1/2 (2 1/2 stars)

Parking: **1/2 (2 1/2 stars)

Where: 2400 Boston St., Canton

Phone: 410-327-5200@S

Web site: www.raylewis fullmoon.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Prices: Barbecue sandwiches, ribs, platters, baked potatoes, salads and appetizers, from $4.49 to $24.99; credit cards accepted

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