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Archive - April 2010




Site Talk: At the Risk of Repeating Myself

It's no secret that I've been, as an inebriated Joe Namath might say, strugg-a-ling to post daily content as had been my practice in the past. The issue isn't writer's cramp, lack of ideas, lack of restaurant visits to write about or even the slightest disenchantment with barbecue. I'm going through a stretch where my time is more limited, and probably will be for another couple of months, but I promise to hit my stride again. Frequent trips to New Jersey aren't likely, but I'll be more prolific for sure. Meanwhile, four different reviews are in various stages of completion and at least a couple should be posted in May: Flaggstead Smokehouse (Farmington CT), Grandaddy's Smokehouse (Putnam CT), BT's Smokehouse (Sturbridge MA) and Po's Ribs and Barbecue (Acton MA).


The "filler" posts will continue. But it's not that there's any more filler; it just stands out more easily when there's much less editorial content around it than in my heyday. At first it bothered me. Now I've actually grown comfortable with the idea of letting a day or two go by without a post. If I can use that time at the gym or doing something similarly constructive for myself, my family or my friends, why not?


Yesterday's post below is a slightly modified repeat of a pair of posts from September 2009. I included it here not to fill space but as a response to a piece on New England BBQ restaurants that got posted last week. I figure if a juggernaut like the Boston Globe can re-run an article that was originally published last September, I can re-run my reaction. Actually, it's more than a reaction. Back then, I knew the Sunday Globe was about to publish their list of the ten best New England BBQ joints outside the Boston metro area, so I preemptively posted my own top ten list to see how the two lists would compare. Then, after the Globe's list was out, I posted my reaction. Enjoy the lists and comparisons, but remember that there is no right or wrong. I won't promise to have all four reviews posted in May, but I solemnly swear that I won't be repeating previous posts as a regular practice.





New England BBQ: The Best of New England, Outside of Boston

Last week the Boston Globe re-ran their 2009 list of the top ten barbecue joints in New England outside of Boston on their site. read the article online


Here are the joints the Globe listed (in alphabetical order):

  • BBQ Bob's (Bethel ME)

  • BT's Smokehouse (now in Sturbridge MA)

  • Buck's Naked (Freeport ME)

  • Chester's Barbecue (New London CT)

  • Cookhouse (New Milford CT)

  • Curtis BBQ (Putney VT)

  • Moat Mountain Smokehouse (North Conway NH)

  • Muddy River Smokehouse (Portsmouth NH)

  • Smoke 'n' Bones (Oak Bluffs MA on Martha's Vineyard)

  • United BBQ (Providence RI)


In the most recent incarnation of the list, it's not so clear that the joints selected had to be outside the Boston area. It was more obvious the first time around, when it was part of the Sunday Globe's Travel section. This explains why Blue Ribbon, Redbones and the usual Boston suspects aren't on it.


Before the list was originally unveiled last September, I compiled my own list just to see how closely the Globe's list would overlap with my own. There wasn't much.


Only three of the Globe's ten selections (BT's Smokehouse, Buck's Naked, United BBQ) made my list. I also like Chester's, a tough omission that might be the next joint to make my list if I dropped a couple of too-close-to-Boston joints. The Cookhouse would have made my list at one point, but they spiralled downhill shortly before closing down three of their four locations, leaving only the New Milford flagship. Three of the Globe's choices are joints I have not yet visited, though I have heard very good things about one, very bad things about another and nothing about the third. Of the Globe's two selections I disagree with, one I can understand and one leaves me scratching my head in amazement. It's easy to fall in love with Curtis BBQ based on the funky location, unique open pit and personable pitmaster, but the (decent) 'cue for me just doesn't warrant the hype (give me corporate looking but better tasting Big Bubba's at Mohegan Sun any day) (well, maybe any day except the day of my last visit two months ago). As for Muddy River Smokehouse, its inclusion gave me the second biggest chuckle of the article (I'll let you guess which line early on gave me the biggest).


Here's my list of New England BBQ Joints beyond greater Boston (in alphabetical order), compiled a week before the Globe's list was published. Part of the challenge lies in how you define "Boston." For the purpose of this list, I excluded all barbecue joints that are listed in the Boston Metro Area section of my Joints directory.


  • Big Bubba's BBQ (Uncasville CT) see my review of  this joint

  • Bobby Q's (Westport CT) see my review of  this joint

  • BT's Smokehouse (now in Sturbridge MA) see my review of  this joint

  • Buck's Naked (Freeport ME) see my review of  this joint

  • Goody Cole's Smokehouse (Brentwood NH) see my review of  this joint

  • KC's Rib Shack (Manchester NH) see my review of  this joint

  • Lester's Roadside BBQ (Burlington MA) see my review of  this joint

  • Route 7 Grill (Great Barrington MA) see my review of  this joint

  • Texas BBQ Company (Northborough MA) see my review of  this joint

  • United BBQ (Providence RI) see my review of  this joint

  • Wilson's (Fairfield CT) see my review of  this joint






Connecticut BBQ: Q Haven to Serve BBQ to the Public, Starting This Friday at Buddy's

The phrase "award winning barbecue" gets thrown around a lot, and probably a lot more than it should. But starting this Friday, Norwich Connecticut's Q Haven, a barbecue outfit with more than enough trophies to justify that phrase, will unveil their award winning 'cue at Buddy's Dugout (Norwich CT). Buddy’s will feature a pulled pork sandwich made with Q Haven’s slow smoked pulled pork shoulder.


Q Haven is a competition BBQ team that has won many awards since being founded in 2006 by Pitmaster Ted Lorson. The Q Haven team won the New Hampshire state championship in 2006 and has won dozens of other awards over the years.


“I’m excited to begin this partnership with Buddy’s Dugout, who is now providing me the opportunity to bring my style of BBQ to the public,” says Lorson. “I think the people of Norwich and the rest of the region will love our BBQ, and want to thank Buddy’s Dugout owner Andy Grant for the opportunity.”


Buddy’s Dugout is located at 146 West Town Street in Norwich, right at exit 82 off I-395. Buddy’s features fresh Angus burgers, Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, seafood dishes and an assortment of tasty sides, along with ice cream. Q Haven will begin offering specials at Buddy’s that will include baby back ribs, BBQ beef and others, all prepared with the same style that has scored well with trained BBQ judges throughout the Northeast.





Boston BBQ: Lester's Roadside BBQ Celebrates 5 Years With Price Rollbacks

It's been five years of barbecue at Lester's Roadside BBQ (Burlington MA), so they're celebrating that important anniversary in style. For a limited time, prices on select sandwiches and platters will be bumped down to 2005 levels (pulled pork, pulled chicken or chopped BBQ beef are now $5.99 as a sandwich with 1 side and $9.99 as a platter with 2 sides and cornbread).





Win A Meet-and-Greet With Keith Urban

That's meet, not meat, but it does involve meat. The writers and editors of Smoke Signals, the magazine of the BBQ Brethren, are teaming up with KC Masterpiece for a giveaway that could win you four tickets to a Keith Urban concert after meeting the star in person. Here's the deal:

Keith Urban has won Grammy Awards, Billboard Awards, People's Choice Awards and American Music Awards. More importantly, he has won legions of dedicated fans. Urban will be in Las Vegas performing at The Joint on April 23, and Indio, Calif., performing at Stagecoach, California’s Country Music Festival, on April 24 for his concerts on April 23rd and 24th. The only thing missing is you. Our friends at KC Masterpiece and Kingsford have provided us with four tickets to each show to give away to some of our readers. What could be better than that? How about meeting Keith? All winners and their guests will also receive an exclusive meet and greet with Keith Urban prior to the show.


How can you win? In an age of molecular gastronomy, deconstructed meals and gourmet burgers; BBQ is the Real Deal. Good food, done right. Cooked for hours with the same traditions as our grandfathers. Tell us a story of what a Real Deal means to you. Please keep your entries to under a thousand words. The winners for each show will be chosen by the writers and editors of Smoke Signals magazine.


The winning entry will be printed in our next issue. Winners will be notified by Wednesday, April 21st. By sending in an entry you are agreeing to have your story reprinted in part or in its entirety. For more chances to win and exclusive tour content, become a fan of KC Masterpiece at and check out the Keith Urban tab.


Please send your entry to:





Brooklyn BBQ: A Meaty Sibling for Fette Sau

The owners of barbecue joint Fette Sau and watering hole Spuyten Duyvil have erected the third leg of the compound: St. Anselm, at 355 Metropolitan Avenue. It's a combination bar and snack bar, with no barbecue (get that at Fette Sau) but a lively assortment of hot dogs (deep fried or griddled), burgers (2 ounces griddled, on potato roll), house made sausages, a daily "nasty bits" offal selection and a blue plate special of the day (Calvin Trillin oughtta like the Chicken a la King on Sundays). At the bar, eight taps can handle beer and wine, and the selection is different from the other establishments.

see the menu on





Worcester BBQ: Smokestack Urban Barbecue, Coming Soon

A few different sources local to Worcester are reporting that Smokestack Urban Barbecue is targeting a June opening at 90 Harding Street, formerly Castellana's. Very encouraging is the fact that this new barbecue restaurant will be owned by the owners of Romaine's in Northboro (one of my few recommendations in the dining wasteland that is MetroWest). New England's second largest city is in dire need of a barbecue joint, and this could be Worcester's first one ever that has all of the following: a smoker (there'll be two), a liquor license, table service and parking.



The future home of Smokestack Urban BBQ is just 5 minutes from my office. I learned last night that they'll be open for lunch, so I am looking forward to the opening.





Long Island BBQ: Beer and Bourbon Dinner at Swingbelly's, April 14

On Wednesday night, Swingbelly's Beachside BBQ (Long Beach NY) will be putting on another of their beer and bourbon tastings, with an action-packed five-course line-up.


Pork Chicharrones Tacos
Spicy slaw, Ham Hock Black Beans
Panko Fried Guacamole

Crispy Fried Baby Back Wontons
Wood Fire Grilled Pineapple Squares
Ginger Soy Glaze

Cuban Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
Fontina Cheese
SwingBellys Pickle Chips
Apple Wood Smoked Pit Ham
Roasted Garlic and Mustard Aioli

Pork Osso Bucco
Hot Berkshire Pork Sausage
Lemon Basil Risotto

Apple Wood Smoked Bacon Ice Cream
Chocolate Covered Prosciutto Chips
Warm Maple Butter Syrup



Space is limited, reservations are required.





More Thoughts About Buildings and Food

If you're one of the many people whose favorite donut is a chocolate glazed, here's a bit of advice: never eat one again. Instead, switch to chocolate crullers. Chances are, the qualities that drew you to the chocolate glazed donut are even more prominent in the chocolate cruller. The cruller's hard shell finish is a little harder, a little glossier and spread over much more surface area per volume than the donut. And the slightly underdone center is even more giving. Sadly, the artistry of the cruller is yet another part of a bygone era at Dunkin' Donuts, which in recent years eliminated the braided beauties in favor of an easier-to-bake, Twinkie-shaped chocolate stick. Although a steep drop-down from the cruller, it's still a much wiser choice than the donut.


I've always wanted to see a barbecue bread. Imagine something like a pizza, but thicker, with lots of seeds, some herbs, grilled until slightly blackened. It could be eaten as a standalone item with butter or as a sturdy, flavor-packed vessel for slices of brisket.


I'm a fan of Chinese buffets, but bet the house that if you go to one anywhere with "Buffet" as part of the restaurant's name, that buffet will be horrible. There are bound to be exceptions, of course, but I haven't found one yet.


Overrated (but still good): Five Guys burgers. Underrated (and VERY good): Five Guys fries.


The next time you question eating a lesser-known, rarely-eaten body part from an animal and call it "gross" or "disgusting," think of what an egg actually is.


Sliders are hugely overrated. Sure, the size makes them "cute" and easier to eat in your car. And sure, you could argue that tastewise and texturewise, a Martin's mini potato roll is a great vehicle for ground beef, but the toppings never manage to stay in place. More importantly, a patty small enough to stay in place will probably also be thin enough to get dried out very quickly. And in a busy restaurant kitchen, a few seconds of distraction can make the difference between a properly cooked burger and an overcooked one. So the fascination with a quartet of sliders at restaurants seems largely unwarranted. Unless you're getting some variety (like one beef burger, one pork burger, one lamb burger, one kangaroo burger), there's absolutely no reason to choose sliders over the full size burger—which can be more reliably cooked to the desired doneness without drying out, without losing the condiments and without falling apart. Some may say sliders are easier to share among a group (and this is true if different people prefer different condiments), but I'd rather divvy a full sized burger any day.


I never thought I'd be big on the "extending the brand" philosophy that's so rampant in the candy industry, but I'm all for it. A caramel version of Junior mints? Sure, why not? Milky Way with dark chocolate? Bring it on. The latest is a new stable of M&M variants, and as a hard core cherry guy I had to try their Wildly Cherry. They're bigger and rounder than the non-peanut varieties have ever been. The flavor? Intense. And at only 220 calories per pack, it's a justifiable treat if moderation prevails.





Long Island BBQ: Poppa Rick Has Returned; Big Apple BBQ Now Open in Glen Cove

Rick Anselmi, better known to long time Long Island BBQ fans as pitmaster/owner/namesake of the erstwhile Poppa Rick's in Westbury, has resurfaced with a new barbecue joint—Big Apple BBQ—that opened last week in Glen Cove. Newsday's Joan Reminick has already paid a visit and weighed in yesterday on the newspaper's food blog.

read the Big Apple BBQ review on Feed Me





Boston BBQ: Rally Against Cancer at Jake's Dixie Roadhouse on Tuesday Night

On Tuesday April 6 Jake's Dixie Roadhouse will be putting on a special night of barbecue, beer and baseball in an effort to finally put an end to cancer. The Jake's BBQ family has recently been rocked by several cancer diagnoses; it's time to rock back. Special guest Mark Herzlich of Boston College will be on hand, and the Red Sox-Yankees game will be shown on the projection TV. Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins and Patriots raffle items will also be available to help this important cause.






Boston BBQ: Jerry Remy's Sports Bar & Grill Reviewed


When I first heard that former Red Sox player and current Red Sox television commentator Jerry Remy was opening a sports bar that would feature barbecue, I was skeptical. Any celebrity-owned sports bar can put barbecue on its menu, but how real will it be? And if it's real, how good can it be? Over the last week I had three dinners at Remy's to find out.


Jerry Remy's Sports Bar & Grill is the subject of the site's 175th review, with all the answers just in time for Sunday's opening night. Check out the review of via the link above, the Reviews page or the red icons in the Joints directory.





Boston BBQ: Cambridge's East Coast Grill Celebrates 25 years and 100 Hell Nights

Yesterday's Boston Globe featured a nice profile by Devra First on the 25 year success that is East Coast Grill.

Read the Boston Globe story on East Coast Grill


One of East Coast Grill's signature events is Hell Night, whjere the regular menu gets replaced by a scorching array of fiery fare. Later this month, ECG will put on its 100th such night. The latest round of Hell Nights (April 12 through April 15) are sold out, but the 14 seats at the bar will be first come, first serve, full menu, all four nights. Any reservations that open up due to cancellation will be posted on Facebook and Twitter the week prior to the event.





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Recent Eats (click photo to view larger image)

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Brisket, ribs and pork "pladda" at KC's Rib Shack, Manchester NH.


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Slice from a beef shortrib at BT's Smokehouse, Sturbridge MA.


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Brisket mini at BT's Smokehouse Snack Shack, Sturbridge MA.


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Chicken and fish at SoulFire, Allston MA.


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Single ribs at Firefly's, Framingham MA.


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Ribs at Jerry Remy's Sports Bar & Grill, Boston MA.


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Ribs (pork ribs, rib tips, beef rib) at BT's Smokehouse, Sturbridge MA.


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Ribs at Firefly's, Marlborough MA.


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Ribs and pork at Po's Ribs and Barbecue, Acton MA.


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Ribs at BT's Smokehouse, Sturbridge MA.




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