At a glance, there is something nostalgic about the 2011 Audi A5 Cabriolet. There was a time when Audis were actually pretty heavy in Chocolate City (a term in itself that is nostalgic now). To have an Audi you had to have money, but you also had to have your own cool to drive outside the lines of Mercedes Benz or BMW.
This is still the case. Audi owners beat to their own drum and for this day my drum of choice was congo, as homegrown talent would grace the big stage at Merriweather Post Pavilion.
Overcast and chilly, the weather wouldn’t allow me to open the top on the A5 but the opening act awaited in Columbia, MD. The California Tortilla Break Out winner at the WHFS- FM’s HFStival was on the top of my list, then to the Virginia Wine Festival at Bull Run.
Already running behind, I had every confidence that those four interlocking rings on the front grill meant I’d make it there on time. No problem. The turbo charged engine and eight speed automatic transmission only hesitated as if to ask quickly, “Are you sure you want to go fast?” You can also shift to sport mode, which gives a quicker response, if more speed is the answer you seek.
Following the road of past Break Out winner Good Charlotte, who went from garage band to super stardom, Black Alley is a local band with youth and energy that call their sound “Soul garage.” Their music is a tool shed of sounds ranging from rock and R&B to funk and go-go.
Media pass in hand, I made it in time to hear them rock their rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and originals like “Used,” which sound eerily familiar with its nod to the Eurythmics.
As I left the parking field, the rain sensor in the A5 automatically activated the windshield wipers. Sadly, it started to rain. My date wasn’t down for the outdoor wine fest. My sadness washed away when I realized we could keep going north to the best rib spot I know, The Charred Rib in Lutherville, MD.
We continued on BW Parkway to 695 Towson and soon we reached a destination my date had never been. I knew I would score with comfort food. We started with the crab pretzel appetizer, a pillow soft pretzel blanketed with crab dip. I know that sounds weird, but tasting is believing. According to my date, she would have never ordered it, but she ate it like it was the best thing on the menu.
Oh the ribs! The ribs had just the right amount of char to bring out all the flavor and none of the toughness. The meat fell from the bone like leaves off a tree in autumn. The cajun barbecue sauce I chose to cover the ribs was good enough to bottle and sell as a soft drink. Side dishes are limited, but the French fries are far above average and the cole slaw is sweet like KFC’s, if you’ve ever had it. No sacrificing a rib here, my date got her own.
I look forward to dropping the top when the weather cooperates but even with top on, the Audi A5 Cabriolet is a pleasurable ride inside and out. Though the lack of music streaming, navigation, parking assistance and cup holders does take me back to 1994. I guess sometimes less is more, but in these days all cars have more.
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The Charred Rib - 12 West Ridgely Road, Timonium, MD 21093
Price Tag: $44,190 base ($50,170 tested)
Power: 2.0L Turbo Charged 4 cylinder Engine 211 horsepower
Transmission: 8-speed Automatic with Tiptronic
Drivetrain: All-Wheel drive
Fuel Economy (mpg): 21-city/29-hwy
Mike Tucker here is a D.C. native and journalist of fine automobiles for more than 10 years. You can follow me at @1cooldad.
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