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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, June 22, 2024


There was a time when, on St. Thomas, no good ribs were to be found. Most restaurants serving something of that name on the menu dished up a mush of boiled fatty meat with big bones in the middle which had been splashed with some kind of sauce and fired to burn the sauce.
Finally, Bar-B-Q Bill Collins sailed in from Texas and changed all that. He became so successful in Sub Base that he expanded to outlets on the St. Thomas Waterfront, in Red Hook and on St. Croix. Next came Bill's imitators, attempting to clone his Western sauce of tomato, pineapple and pepper slathered on chicken, ribs and beef. Bill knows well the secret of how to do it: the meat swims in succulent sauce suitable for dipping.
A couple of months ago, I dropped by Polli's for some good Mexican food and was persuaded to try the Memphis Ribs. What I got were ribs truly barbecued and dripping with that tomato, molasses and smoke flavor so dear to Dixie. While I am still partial to Texas Pit's ribs, every now and then my iron drops and my body hungers for that good old molasses flavor. Such was the case recently, when I told my companion it was time to return to Polli's for another mess of ribs.
We began with frozen margaritas, a basket of chips and a cupful of tomato salsa. Now, for some reason, a frozen margarita seems to me an absolute necessity to complement ribs in the Caribbean. I hope someday soon Polli's will find a bartender who can make one. For $5 a pop, my companion and I were served martini glasses of chopped ice with a twinge of sweet lemon — sort of Shirley Temple slush. We could have drunk a dozen each without any fear of a buzz.
The chips were good and crunchy, but the salsa has evolved into an excellent tomato dip that tender tongues can enjoy while the rest of us wonder where the onion, green and red sweet peppers, and — especially — the Mexican red peppers went. Come on, guys. Let’s get it back together.
But back to the ribs: Polli's now gives you a choice of three types — Memphis, Connoisseur and Caribbean. All three are excellent examples of the smoker’s art. The fat is slowly cooked out of the meat, leaving a dense, red flesh tasting of salt, black pepper and smoke.
They're all first class. I highly recommend the Connoisseur Ribs with beans and coleslaw for those not ready for more adventurous eating. The Memphis sauce is a very satisfying combination of what appears to be tomato sauce, molasses, garlic, onion and a touch of liquid smoke. Rum is added to this to produce a more authoritative flavor for the Caribbean variety.
The only problem was the paucity of sauce. While superior ribs should be short on fat, they should, in my mind, drip sauce. I enjoy what I lick off my fingers almost as much as what's mellowing my meat. Sauce on chips, sauce on the coleslaw, and if I get too much sauce on my napkin, even that tastes good! It's the stuff of fantasy, folks: Every now and then I wonder what it would be like to chase a young lady around in a vat of good, smoky rib sauce. Wasn't there something about ribs when Adam and Eve were doing all that begetting?
So, do you get the message? I like sauce on and all around my ribs. Sometime in the near future, I trust, the chefs at Polli's will get back to putting more sauce on their ribs like they did in the beginning. The ribs are great; the thin veneer of sauce piques your appetite. True satisfaction can only be just around the corner.
We found the restrooms at Polli's comfortable and clean with plenty of supplies. There is usually adequate parking in the lot at Tillet Gardens, which has security.
And, Polli's still serves, as far as I am concerned, the best Mexican food on the island.
Polli's Mexican Restaurant
Ambiance: 4 stars
Food: 4 stars
Service: 4 stars
Value: 4 stars
Tillet Gardens, Estate Anna's Retreat
(340) 775-4550
11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Tex-Mex/ Southwestern menu
Amex, Visa, MasterCard 775-4550

Editor's note: The Tottering Taster is a senior citizen dedicated to enjoying good food who
periodically dines in local establishments to bring Source readers unsolicited assessments biased in favor of an ultimate eating-out experience. The individual uses a pseudonym so restaurant personnel will not be able to identify the reviewer and try to influence the review.

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