Restaurant review: Ray Ray's Meat Corn

G.A. Benton

“It's my baby, dude,” Alex Hegerty said as he carefully assembled one of the largest, oddest and yet most tempting “foods on a stick” I'd seen in a long while. Obviously Hegerty, the manager of our city's leading purveyor of outdoor-cooked meat — yes, that would be Ray Ray's Hog Pit — was proud of his creation. And who wouldn't be?

The rare and unique handheld treat Hegerty invented and was intently constructing at the time might've been titled “Corn Cob Kebab” or “Maize and Brisket,” or even “Ohio Gyro.” But the name Hegerty chose for the food-truck delicacy is so suitably blunt and evocative of lust that I think it fits the bold and rustic portable feast to a “T”: Meat Corn.

Available from Ray Ray's as a special about once a month, Meat Corn ($7) is a marriage made in hog-pit-heaven between “elote” — addictive Mexican-style street corn — and Ray Ray's beloved brisket.

Combining these picnic-perfect partners is inspired, but rigging them together so the combo can be eaten like a corndog? I believe that qualifies as next level. And it required culinary-engineering advice from Chef Dan Varga, aka the Hungarian Butcher, formerly of Double Comfort and Explorers Club.

Through trial and error, Hegerty and Varga eventually hit on a winning formula that tastes great but also enables the beef — which needs to be chopped just so — to adhere to a big ear of corn. The state fair-worthy result is smoky, tangy, rich, sweet, salty and seriously substantial.

Its exterior consists of around a third of a pound of tender, smoked brisket brightened with cotija cheese and Ray Ray's barbecue rub. This meat shell clings to a cob slathered with mayo spiked with citrus and mild, fragrant spices. Bottom line: To try Meat Corn is to love it.

Although Meat Corn — it's amusing to say, no? — is currently exclusive to the food truck parked behind the Ace of Cups music club, you can now get most of Ray Ray's fare from its new outlet in Westerville.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. and operating out of a window like a little Dairy Queen, the new shop offers all of Ray Ray's smoked meats sold in sandwiches and by the pound. Sides vary slightly. One noteworthy difference: Rather than cheesy potatoes, the Westerville branch offers potato chips seasoned with Ray Ray's signature barbecue rub.