The dish: Baby back rib lunch special
Note to implacable dry-rub and sticky, tomato-based barbecue sauce fans: This review's ribs feature a vinegar and honey sauce. And lots of it. Consider yourself warned.
On the other hand, if you're the type who feels there's no such thing as too much tangy-sweet bbq sauce, the Corner Stable in Cockeysville gives you a fair run for your money. They ladle it on. This special includes a half-rack of ribs, as well as a side of fries for $9.99. And at the end of the meal, easily as much sauce was left pooling on the basket's white paper liner as coated and dripped from the meat itself.
The balance of savory and sweet in the Stable's bbq sauce recipe tends toward the too sweet side for my tastes, though I wouldn't add a drop more vinegar. Every other attribute of the sauce was subtly displayed. Hints of smoke and pepper and maybe a touch of citrus played in the background.
The fries, fresh cut and nicely browned, worked well with the pools of extra sauce. They help make the special a filling lunch.
The ribs themselves, however, were unequivocally superb. The meat fell so thoroughly off these bones, they left not so much as a shadow. I ate the entire half rack with a fork. Never got a drop of the bbq sauce on my fingers. Not a morsel of protein remained on any of the ribs. And in all its melting tenderness, the meat was remarkably lean.
The server was relaxed, good-natured, helpful and confident. The atmosphere is decidedly family. And they pack a lot of seating into a space with dominant diagonal lines to contend with. Aisles between tables and booths are tight, but once you're seated, you're fine. The place doesn't feel as cramped as it might look.
The Corner Stable proclaims with an enormous banner that their ribs and crab cakes are "Baltimore's Best." And indeed the ribs are — if your taste exactly aligns with the Stable's. But they are undeniably in contention for the best of this style in the area: far and away better than places that serve ribs as a side line. And the Stable's lunch rib special is a good $10-and-under deal.
By the time you read this, the Stable will have opened a second location, in the former Michael's Pub in the Kings Contrivance sector of Columbia. Anyone in that area who feels that they're surrounded by more than enough second- or third-tier tavern burgers in Howard County may well relish this new neighbor. It is rightfully a favorite in Cockeysville.
Where: 9942 York Road, Cockeysville
Contact: 410-666-8722, cornerstable.com
Lunch hours: 11.am.-3 p.m. daily
Lunch entrees: $5.50-$9.99