I should point out, though, Bruce or Susan, that two of the restaurants I mentioned in my post are located in Texas (of all place), who are also doing that "NYC-type" thing as you describe it.
In many ways, I think calling a restaurant "BBQ" or "cue" or "smoke" and then featuring fois gras pate is disingenuous --an attempt to try to coy the public into thinking it's getting something it isn't. It's not BBQ. Sure, the meat has been prepared by low and slow, but the meat isn't the feature, the presentation is. In a true BBQ joint, the meat is it. There are sides, but the meat isn't dolled up into haute cuisine.
Not that there's anything wrong with haute cuisine. But, IMO, smoked quail is hardly "barbecue" - even though it's a commonly hunted animal in Texas. Whether the meat is smoked or oven cooked, cailles en sarchophage is cailles en sarchophage.
On the other hand, these "la-di-da" chefs, as described earlier, are helping to legitimize the art of the pitmaster, as the meat is tranformed by Chef La-Di-Da from finger food to dinner food, from messy to dressy, from bib to jacket,....well, you get the point.
What I find interesting, is when you combine this concept of making higher end food out of "commoner" ingredients, or just making higher end food, with some of the places we see on Diner, Drive-In's and Dives, we start to see a changing landscape in everyday restaurants. More and more, the everyday restauranteur is committed to very fanciful plating, out of the ordinary ingredients, and pushes technique in the kitchen. This new-diner offering stands in stark contrast to the old greasy spoon, trucker diner presentation. A good example, is the new local family diner on 8th Street, in SE DC. The street is commonly known as Barrack's Row - because it sits along the tradition-laden Marine Barracks. Ted's Bulletin
has managed to elevate the twinkie and pop-tart, and of course, there's the adult milkshakes, not suitable for young ones. It truly is family friendly, and is my 3 year old son's favorite restauant...he calls it "The B" because out front is simply a large letter B on the facade. Yes, even roadfood is getting fancy. So, maybe the "fancification" of BBQ is just the next logical evolution?
Of course, I started this thread in an attempt to get others to read an article I found interesting on the Wash Post website, and to spark conversation aong fellow foodies, so I'm glad we're getting a variety of angles on this.
<message edited by Scorereader on Mon, 04/30/12 3:56 PM>