Getting to Home Plate BBQ the first time is tricky, but once inside you’ll find an impressive collection of chilled beer, including green bottles of Buddha-shaped Lucky Lager. If you’re not a beer lover, be kind to yourself and order a glass of real, old-fashioned lemonade (20RMB), meant to be sipped with appreciation.
Barbeque beef brisket, pulled pork or ribs come from a giant built-in brick smoker fuelled by wood charcoal. Barbeque meats are made into sandwiches with unorthodox additions such as a fried egg or come in combo plates (60-88RMB) accompanied by a really good corn muffin and two sides. Of the choices, the potato salad (10RMB) has all the right stuff, including celery and onion in creamy mayonnaise for a rich carbo-load, while hush puppies (10RMB) are a pair of lumpy cornmeal fritters served with a swipe of butter, as if they need more fat.
Ribs sell at market price (150RMB for a half-rack when Time Out visited) – a response to recent pork price fluctuations. The half rack is plenty big and smoky, with a Memphis-style dry rub, but the meat is not falling-off-the-bone tender like it should be. The BBQ sauce is good, but there’s only one type and it has a cumulative spice kick that can overwhelm.
Home Plate departs the barbeque tradition at a tangent with some uncommon menu options. The fryer is as busy as the smoker in a spirit of southern Dixie cardiac decadence. Cornmeal-dusted fried okra nuggets (25RMB) are crisp and slippery tender while fried Vlasic pickle chips (30RMB) are crunchy and sour at once. Both require familiarity to love. A fine example of buffalo wings (38RMB) are tossed in buttery hot sauce after a quick fry. Burgers don’t warrant priority ordering on the first visit, but the kitchen makes a darn good cheeseburger (30RMB), and gluttons can have a double burger for an additional 10RMB. Hot dogs? In a barbeque place? These wieners are too weak to stand alone unless you get the corn dog whose thick coat could mask a lot of things (12RMB).
As long as you keep the Home Plate habit in check, you’re unlikely to die from high calories. Oatmeal and peanut butter cookies are pale and doughy (5RMB each) while pies made by the Bread of Life Bakery often sell out. You need patience to make good ’cue, and the American owners have a good measure of it. Home Plate often hits a home run.
Offering one of Beijing's best hot sandwiches