By Ava Stryker-Robbins
Barbeque holds undeniable importance in America’s food portfolio. But while this cooking method is widespread and delicious, there are different varieties that each have their own taste.
Au Jus on the Upper West Side features Oklahama-style barbeque. Among its dishes is a corned beef platter. While the slow-cooked beef is juicy and tasty on its own, Au Jus offers four homemade barbeque sauces to enhance the flavor: two tomato-based (one spicy, one sweet); one honey mustard, called “Oklahoma Gold”; and one vinegar-based, recently added due to frequent requests from North and South Carolinians.
The platter comes with a choice of two sides, including cornbread, string beans, BBQ baked beans, mac-n-cheese, fries, stuffing, potatoes, and more.
Patrick Griffin, the restaurant’s principal, told WSR in a phone interview that barbeque held a special place in his childhood in Oklahoma. “It’s something I’ve been doing since I was a kid with my dad,” he said. He remembers piling into a station wagon with his nine brothers and sisters to drive to barbeque events. “It was part of the social fabric of growing up.”
Griffin spent most of his childhood cooking brisket. He first encountered corned beef when he was a 16-year-old student at Columbia University. He went to a restaurant near campus called Take Home, where he had a corned beef sandwich, and instantly fell in love with the taste. He eventually wanted to incorporate it into his restaurant.
Griffin—who is also a doctor working in the biopharmaceutical industry—explains that knowing chemistry has helped him understand barbecue. “It’s just chemistry,” he said.
Au Jus has three locations throughout New York City. All meat smoking is done in the Harlem location, but the corned beef is brined in-house. Griffin said that part of the struggle with barbeque is making the food taste consistent, and he is extraordinarily happy with how his staff maintains the flavor of the food. “I’m particularly blessed here in New York to have a great team helping me out at all the locations.”
Au Jus opened on the Upper West Side in 2020 because, among other reasons, Griffin’s children—who live in the neighborhood—no longer wanted to travel to East Harlem in order to have barbeque. “They said ‘Dad, why don’t you open a place on the Upper West Side?’” While the timing of the opening was not ideal—March 15, 2020—and the restaurant was forced to close within a month due to the pandemic, it persevered and is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
The corned beef platter costs $17.50.
The Dish: Corned Beef Platter
The Restaurant: Au Jus (99th and Broadway)
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