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Archive - July 2010

 

 

(07/30/10)

Long Island BBQ: Notes From My Latest Long Island BBQ Crawl, Part 2 (the Hog Shank Redemption)

Here's the second half of my wrap-up, continued from Tuesday.

Canz, Westbury

This stop was more about liquid refreshment and eye candy than about pork, though pork was pivotal in a way. I confirmed that pork ribs are no longer on the menu here, effectively removing Canz from consideration as a barbecue joint. The barbecue connection was already a loose one at best, with a pulled pork sandwich the only other quasi-'cue offering. Now joined by a third member of our barbecue posse, I attempted to gather support for a split pulled pork sandwich, but that was met with about as much response as Ben Stein got from near-comatose students in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

 

Big Apple BBQ, Port Washington

This was the main event for the crawl and the one joint whose inclusion and time slot was not subject to change (normally, these crawls are subject to much rearrangement to allow crawlmates to jump onboard at strategic times). Big Apple BBQ's Port Washington outpost was a little smaller than I expected and somewhat multi-personalitied among full-service, counter-service and bar. Outside, a huge banner that announced the new name (it had taken over a Bad Bob's BBQ franchise) and a familiar "Under New Management" sign. A restaurant saying it's under new management is effectively saying, "The old management and the old restaurant sucked, but we're a new restaurant and we don't suck, so please give us a chance even though you hated the sucky previous restaurant."

 

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I can report with certainty that Big Apple BBQ didn't suck. Like the previous stops, this was a mixed bag (for Long Island BBQ, a mixed bag is actually a pleasant surprise). Yes, Big Apple had its ups and downs, proving to be neither the barbecue savior that some had hoped nor the colossal disappointment that some have described. I'd go again, but probably to the original Glen Cove location for comparison. As for the details of this meal, I'll chronicle them in an upcoming review that's already in progress. I won't promise it'll be posted tomorrow, but I will promise it won't languish like the unwritten Second's review. If you feel like visiting before I post the review and want some words of advice: 1) be sure to order the smoked meatloaf sandwich; 2) order only a half rack only of the "Monster" spare ribs (they're huge); 3) order them unsauced even though the description might lead you to think they're going to arrive unsauced; 4) bring your own sauce.

 

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Harbor Q, Port Washington

With two and a half years passing since my last visit to Harbor Q not long after they opened, I've been long overdue for a return. It's not so much that I had any serious issue with their 'cue, but more that Port Washington is a bit of a pain to reach. That mixed first visit did show promise and I'd heard good things, so I wanted to include Harbor Q in the mix on this trip, even if it meant that Swingbelly's (Long Beach) would be a resulting casualty.

 

As the last stop on the crawl, Harbor Q nearly didn't make it. We were starting to get full, so there was talk of splitting a combo platter among the four of us and calling it a night. That might fly at an over-the-counter joint or a huge space with plenty of tables, but at a small, barless restaurant on a busy Friday night, tying up a 4-top for a measly order wouldn't be fair to the restaurant, the servers or the people waiting for a table. So I threw down the gauntlet: either we go to Harbor Q and order a decent cross section, or we save it for another time.

 

We wound up with a nice order.

 

Kreuz sausage: To the best of my knowledge, Harbor Q is the only Long Island BBQ joint that offers these links shipped from the legendary market in Lockhart TX. This appetizer was served as a smattering of 1/4" thick discs with toothpicks, supplemented with cheese and crackers, almost as is done in Texas. I say "almost" because going with slices or small blocks of cheese rather than the shredded variety would probably have added to the experience and the authenticity. But since it probably would have also added to the cost, I'll give them a pass on that one. The slicing presentation was ideal for sharing and it still retained much of the inherent juiciness, but that simultaneous snapping/gushing sensation you get with these same sausages at Hill Country (NYC) was missing. Not missing was the flavor: lightly smoky, more than lightly spicy and balanced enough to keep those toothpcks moving quickly and get things off to a good start.

 

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Pulled pork: Served on a slice of white bread, this had an appealing visual, with a varied assortment of pieces, good bark representation and a light saucing that at first glance looked like natural juices. The flavor revealed otherwise, as this had a strong sweetness from a sauce that was quite unlike any other I've had in a restaurant. It was a clean sweetness that had me guessing agave nectar or simple syrup, but we were told it was apple juice "and some other secret ingredients." Whatever it was, it served that pork well, because it gave it a nice assist without getting in the way. I know I often come across as a curmudgeon who's down on sauce, especially if it's an overly sweet sauce and even more so if it's an overly sweet sauce on pulled pork. But let the record show that I can dig a sweet, non-vinegary sauce on pork if it's done well, and this was a great example. Pleasing smoke and porkiness peeked through effortlessly. Texture was just about right, leaning toward the more tender side of what I call the window of acceptable tenderness. Overall, Harbor Q's pulled pork went past merely unique; I'd have to call it one of my most memorable and easily the best I've had on Long Island.

 

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Ribs: Long, thick, meaty and juicy, the ribs on the 2-meat combo were served unsauced, showcasing the well formed rub crust. The rub wasn't aggressive in any one direction (sweet, peppery, spicy, salty), but the overall effect was nice. Good texture and natural porkiness were what made these a success. I watched one of my tablemates take a first bite out of a rib and saw juices run down his arm. I'd rank Harbor Q's ribs from this visit up there with Swingbelly's as one of the Island's two best. Swingbelly's prevails decidedly in flavor; Harbor Q gets the edge in texture.

 

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Pastrami: Served on toast with a grainy mustard on the side, the pastrami is smoked, then steamed. This lacked the trademark spicy edges, but the pastrami flavor was intense all the way into the center. Smoke level was lower than I'd hoped but noticeable; texture was just right with decent moistness. It was a step down from the life altering pastrami deckle that wowed me two days earlier at RUB, but Harbor Q's pastrami was solid, comparing quite favorably with a good Jewish deli. I'd definitely order this again.

 

Pork on a Bone: Sometimes when you're on a crawl and you're already past the point of being full, you shell out a few bucks for something fully knowing you're not going to make much of a dent in it, but you do it purely out of curiosity. That was the case with Harbor Q's "pork on a bone," a big honkin' hunk o' meat described as a shank that was part smoked, part braised. It arrived with another heavy crust and another example of sweet sauce successfully carried out. The lacquer (apricot, I think) was abundant but still let the meat do the talking. This was the smokiest offering yet, so the sweetness of the sauce presented a nice foil. There was enough meat to easily divide among our group of four. Tenderness didn't have the fall-apart texture I'd expect of a braised shank; this was more akin to smoked turkey thighs. But it was pink, moist and delicious.

 

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Sides: There were no disasters, but the sides didn't impress me the way the meats did.

 

Harbor Q exceeded expectation, providing the best meal of the night. Granted, my statistical sample is a small one, but if this visit is at all representative, Harbor Q is easily in my top two, along with Swingbelly's, for the best of Long Island BBQ.

 

 

 

 

(07/29/10)

Boston BBQ: Boston Magazine's Best BBQ?

Boston Magazine's annual "Best of Boston" issue is now on the stands, and after three days of checking and re-checking the stands closest to me, I finally have said issue in hand. So who's their pick for best barbecue in Boston? Nobody, that's who. After years of picks, this time there is no barbecue category. I don't get it.

 

 

 

(07/28/10)

Boston BBQ: Pig Pickin' at Redbones, August 2

August is right around the corner, so that means it's almost time for the 9th annual pig pickin' at Redbones (Somerville MA) to benefit the Somerville Homeless Coalition. It all starts at 6:00PM next Monday, when you can see the whole hogs smoked all day on custom rigs, then enjoy a "pit to plate" 'cue experience featuring loins, butts and bellies plus slaw, corn on the cob, greens, cornbread, watermelon and drinks. Beer will be served outside in front of the restaurant and live music will be the backdrop. The event is $25 for adults and $5 for kids under 10, with a rain date of August 9. No reservations are necessary. www.redbones.com

 

 

 

 

(07/27/10)

Long Island BBQ: Notes From My Latest Long Island BBQ Crawl, Part 1

Last week I recapped my New York City BBQ mini-crawl, so now it's time to recap a longer Empire State expedition that took place two days later in search of Long Island BBQ. Like the NYC crawl, this one took place about eight months after my previous visit. Unlike the NYC crawl, I was there mostly to cover new ground. I've been itching to revisit Swingbelly's Beachside BBQ (Long Beach NY), the Long Island BBQ equivalent of the coast-to-coast baseball division leader with all of the other teams near or below .500. But on a 90-degree Friday in July, the odds of my finding a parking space pre-meal and getting back to other destinations in reasonable time post-meal seemed unlikely. So I mapped out a route that had a good mix of new joints and old, hoping for a breakthrough I could point to as a success. By the end of the trip, hope was met.

 

Big Daddy's, Massapequa

I'd been eyeing this joint for a few years now, but kept it on the back burner because I thought it might be a good place to take in-laws someday. Since that's never going to happen, I chose Big Daddy's as my first Long Island BBQ stop for this trip. There were some hits and some misses here, but I can safely extrapolate after one visit that Big Daddy's won't be a contender for the LI division crown, nor will they be a lowly basement dweller along the lines of the now closed Hog House and Freedom BBQ.

 

A quick assessment puts them in the lower middle of the pack, but that assessment could have gone a different way had my barbecue buddy and I ordered slightly differently. At one point we were looking at ribs and pulled pork, with a possible New Orleans item thrown in, but ultimately wound up splitting wings, a brisket sammy and a ribs/pork combo. Our unanimous choice for the best two meats were wings and brisket, the two last minute additions. We had only slightly differing views on the ribs (he hated them, I was indifferent) and pork (I hated it, he was indifferent). So had we just stuck with ribs and pork, Big Daddy's would have fared a lot worse. I'll have the details in a forthcoming review, but will probably post one for another visit from this trip first.

 

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Second's, Amityville

This soul/BBQ joint has for a few years now been flagged in the Joints directory as pending a review. I visited once and had some decent but uninspired pork ribs (touted as spares, but they were meaty babybacks). I wasn't sure if the meat was smoked and wasn't sure how much I liked the place, which seemed more designed for takeout than a sit down meal. I've been meaning to go back, but most of my Long Island trips have been in conjunction with visiting New York City on a Saturday or staying over for an all-day Sunday crawl, which excludes the closed-on-Sundays Second's. Anyhow, this visit was a Friday, so Second's was slotted for an early visit. It turned out that Second's was closed for the day, seemingly for some family issue.

 

Burke's Bar-B-Que Barn, Baldwin

This is another over-the-counter joint with no real seating, though you can take your food to Burke's Landing a few doors down the street-- when it's open. The bar was still closed at 2:00PM, so we had to think on the fly. At Burke's Bar-B-Que Barn, there's a bench more geared to waiting than eating; two 2'x2' tables against the wall allow eating while standing up, so that's what we did.

 

Pulled pork sandwich: This was served on a poppy seed bulkie roll, an unusual vessel. I knew from a previous visit that the meat is smoked, but the visual was not helped by a brown-on-brown presentation: a thick coating of dark brown barbecue sauce on similarly brown pork. Taste and texture both reminded me of chicken more than pork, but the meat was decent, offering big chunks of pork with a lot of bark hidden in the camouflage. The sauce is a heavy duty sweet blend that recalls the Blues Hog sauce commonplace on the competition circuit. Most of what I tasted was the sauce.

 

Brisket: Similarly well coated (and perhaps similarly overcoated), the brisket had enough oomph to stand up to such a dominating sauce. There was a pleasing flavor within the meat that had a little heat and a subtle sweetness not related to the sauce. Texture was also enjoyable—there was no crispy crust to speak of, but each slice was well within the narrow sweet spot between too stiff and too tender. I just wish the brisket arrived unsauced.

 

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Ribs: Very large untrimmed spares carried enough fat to moisten them but without any excess fat to get in the way. Under a liberal sauce layer (same sauce on all meats) was a would-be crust that probably suffered from sitting and winding up being the last item we tasted at Burke's. Below that, the meat was cooked to the right tenderness, offering good moisture and faint juiciness. The flavor was lightly smoky with a hint of porkiness. The ribs stood up to the sauce better than the pork but not as well as the brisket. Although clearly good, they seemed a little off from my previous taste eight months earlier.

 

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Sides: These were the highlight of the Burke's visit. Barbecue spaghetti took on a new twist since my last visit, with colored taco shell confetti adding visual and textural (crunch) appeal. The spaghetti itself had more barbecue sauce and a scattering of either chicken or pork. The meat and flavor levels were both high. Cole slaw was the one dud among the sides: cabbage, mayo and not much else. Potato salad was a different story, turning out to be one of the best I've had. There was a lot more punch from a spicier condiment, some egg and liberal seasoning that included paprika and probably a few other surprises. Beans were also very nicely done, using red and green pepper to brighten the dish. Biscuits fused the flavors and textures of cornbread and garlic bread.

 

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Usually I get an instant read on a barbecue joint, but I'm not sure where I stand on Burke's after a couple of visits. It's at least a step up from Big Daddy's, but exactly where they slot within the upper middle of the pack is unclear. At the beginning of the day I thought Burke's might take the #2 slot for Long Island BBQ behind Swingbelly's. By the end of the day they reminded me of this year's Red Sox: still over .500 and still somewhat in contention, but further behind the leader than they once were.

 

[to be continued]

 

 

 

(07/26/10)

Massachusetts BBQ: Pulled Pork Workshop at Lester's by Grand Champions, July 31

 

This Saturday Lester's Roadside BBQ (Burlington MA) is hosting another smoking workshop for those who want to learn all the secrets of award winning low and slow barbecue. That phrase "award winning" now has new meaning, because the instructors of the course—Steve Eastridge and Scott Procko from the Meat @ Slim's competition team—two weekends ago took home the championship trophy at the Troy Pigout (Troy NY), beating out several nationally ranked teams.

 

Saturday's workshop is devoted solely to pork butts: wood selection, meat selection and trimming, injection, rubs, smoking times and regulating smoker temperatures. The workshop also includes a "backstage tour" of Lester's, including the smokers and kitchen, plus samples of meats and sides, with beer availableseparately. The cost for the workshop including food is $59, limited to the first 25 people who sign up. To reserve, call Lester's at (781) 221-7427.
www.lestersbbq.com

 

 

 

(07/25/10)

Joints Directory Madness

Here's the latest batch of barbecue Joints directory activity, spanning five states. This time there are five new joints, one expansion, one name change and four grayings due to phasing out of barbecue.

  • Big Apple BBQ (Glen Cove NY) only waited a mere three months before openiong their second unit in Port Washington. The spin-off occupies the same digs as the former Bad Bob's. I visited recently and will post a review shortly. Thanks to Eric and Sledneck for the info. Big Apple also changed their website to www.bigapplebbq.net.

  • Lobster Q (Hampstead NH) is a converted former outpost of the popular Lobster Pot mini chain. In its new incarnation under new ownership (an alumnus of the Meat House), this single-location joint has kept the seafood menu mostly intact, with a barbecue menu just started in mid July. Don't be dissuaded by the market-like apperance in the front; there's full seating, full service and a deep beer menu around the corner from the counter and display cases. www.lobsterq.com

  • South of the Border (East Meadow NY) "mercifully ended" its foray into barbecue and is now strictly focusing on Mexican, according to Sledneck.

  • Canz Bar and Grill (Westbury and Astoria) mercifully has NOT closed, but they have 86ed ribs from their menu. That means they're grayed out in the directory but certainly not forgotten, even though I forgot what the pulled pork sandwich—the lone quasi-que holdout—tastes like. I'll follow up to stay abreast of the rib situation as it develops further. www.canzusa.com

  • All Star Sandwich Bar (Cambridge MA), after being sold by Chris Schlesinger more than a year ago, is still rocking the sandwich classics and funky new creations with nearly the same enthusiasm as at the out set. But even before the sale, the "barbecue" component got relegated to twice a week status, with the pulled pork and brisket offerings only available on a weekly basis. They're still worth trying, but I'm graying out the listing to reflect that ASSB isn't really a barbecue joint. www.allstarsandwichbar.com

  • Tremont 647 (Boston MA) is owned by a James Beard nominee and Hell's kitchen participant who's a member of the defending Jack Daniels BBQ competition champion team IQue. But despite the occasional barbecue special event, the menu has long had less of a barbecue slant than it did immediately after the closing of sister restaurant Rouge four years ago, and the "180 Ribs" now make cameo apperances only. So although it still gets my recommendation as a restaurant well worth visiting, Tremont 647 can no longer even remotely be described as a barbecue restaurant. www.tremont647.com

  • Granite Grill (Fitzwilliam NH) is a new joint located at the intersection of routes 12 and 119. Thanks to Marty for the lead.

  • The Draft Sports Bar and Grill (Concord NH) sounds like a typical cookie cutter bar with boiled and broiled ribs, but that's not the case, at least according to the online menu. All the meats are smoked onsite and served unsauced, with a half dozen sauces to add yourself. www.draftsportsbar.com

  • Smokin' Good BBQ (Bethel ME) is the new name of the roadside joint formerly known as BBQ Bob's. The ownership and the operation hasn't changed, but Bob left the business in March. Thanks to owner Dave for the info. www.smokingoodbarbecue.com

  • Que Pasa Cantina & Smokehouse (Henniker NH) has been identified as having a smoker with a burning wood smell recognizable from the road. Thanks to Lowell for the tip. www.quepasanh.com

  • Big Country's Hickory Pit BBQ (Wallingford CT) is a roadside trailer with limited hours (weekdays only, 11AM-6PM) and the basic 4, but it's their side of smoked mac and cheese with bacon that most has me intrigued.

 

 

 

(07/22/10)

Connecticut BBQ: Flaggstead Reviewed

It took several visits and a lot of procrastination, but I've posted the site's 177th barbecue joint review for Flaggstead Smokehouse (Farmington CT). This is a cozy place whose outdoor deck is a summertime oasis. How's the barbecue? Check it out via the Reviews page, the link above or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.

 

 

 

 

(07/21/10)

Rhode Island BBQ: Newport Storm Dinner at Smokehouse Cafe, July 27

The Smokehouse Cafe (Newport RI) is at it again next Tuesday with another in their Newport Storm dinner series. The reception starts at 6:30PM, with Australian style appetizers including shrimp on the barbie, BBQ lamb lollipops and Australian Kicking Beer BBQ Hog Wings. Dinner starts at 7:30PM, shifting the geographical focus to Asia, starting with Chinese BBQ spare ribs, followed by Korean hot and spicy short ribs, both accompanied by regional sides. The final savory course is Brazilian style kabobs. The dessert is brown sugar bread pudding topped with Thomas Tew rum raisin ice cream and bourbon sauce. The dinner is $42 and requires reservations.
www.smokehousecafe.com
full menu

 

 

 

(07/20/10)

New York BBQ: Notes From A Long Overdue Manhattan BBQ Mini-Crawl

My schedule has been rather hectic over the past several months, keeping my travels limited to easily reached barbecue destinations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut. After an 8 month absence, I finally made it down to New York City again last weekend. The goal did not involve any new discoveries or covering any new ground. No, this trip was less about blog fodder or barbecue journalism and more about hitting two (and a half) of my favorite places to eat. And that was just fine for the veteran barbecue compadre who joined me on this trip—when it comes to barbecue, he's much more geared to sure things than crap shoots, so you couldn't ask for a more fitting tandem than Hill Country and RUB.

 

Stop #1: Shake Shack

This first stop served two purposes. First, it gave us something to do for a half hour when I was startled to learn Hill Country opened at noon and not 11:30. (I wanted to keep RUB as the later stop; Hog Pit across the street was never an option.) More importantly, it "primed the pump" so to speak, getting some meat into the system and taking the edge off before doing more critical eating. I was a little surprised to see such a short line (just a few people) at 11:30. I've seen Sunday mornings where the line was a dozen deep at the 11:00 opening, but that was before the Upper West Side, midtown and CitiField Shake Shacks opened. We split a Shack Burger and a small frozen custard. The former was as juicy as ever, with a complex beef taste and just the right treatment of condiments and a perfect bun-to-beef ratio. It was very good, but somehow felt a little steamier than in the past. Maybe it's because most of my Shack visits have been right at opening.

 

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The custard flavor of the day was Boston creme pie, and it was surprisingly homogenous (I was expecting separate pockets of chocolate flavor) and expectedly smooth as silk. I'd still rather see chocolate as a swirl, but in the end it was not only very satisfying but very much reminiscent of Boston creme pie.

 

Mr. Sure Thing's verdict: "It was good, but not worth the hype."

Stop #2: Hill Country

Oddly, the thing at Hill Country I've most been craving over the past few weeks is the Texas Caviar—a cold salad that's mostly black-eyed peas with some finely diced vegetables and a little vinegar. It's a light side dish that I think is the perfect accompaniment to barbecue any time of year, but in the midst of a heat wave, it's even worthy as a main dish. As usual, it did not disappoint.

 

At the meat counter, ordering for two wasn't that much different from my usual order for one: 1/4lb moist brisket, 1/4 lb lean brisket, one Kreuz hot link, two beef ribs.

 

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Over the years I've come to expect pork ribs arriving without the "silver skin" membrane being trimmed, but these beef ribs—as has been the case for a while now at Hill Country—had a membrane that asserted itself into every bite, which became more of an exercise in gingerly extracting the meat rather than chewing it with unbridled abandon. The flavor made up for any textural issues though, delivering moist and smoky meat, with a noticeable rub that penetrated the membrane to add flavor in unison, without veering off in any one direction among salty, peppery and spicy.

 

As I've said before, the sausage at Hill Country isn't an option, it's a requirement. Shipped unsmoked from Kreuz Market in Lockhart TX then smoked in-house and served as uncut full links, it didn't let us down texture-wise (crispy skin, gushed juices) or flavorwise (noticeable heat, just enough cheese to tweak it without getting in the way).

 

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With only one or two exceptions, I've had much more success with the lean brisket than the moist at Hill Country, and this visit continued the trend. The lean had no fat that needed trimming but carried enough rendered fat within that it was more than moist enough, with a twin bonus: 1) a lot more rub on the crunchy exterior and 2) no fat to discard. At $22 per pound for moist and $18 for lean, the moist is already significantly more expensive. If you factor in the waste of the discarded fat, the moist brisket is probably twice as expensive per edible bite, and not as good. This visit continued that trend too, but with a few changes: the fatty moist was sliced super thin, into strips similar to what you'd see in a bowl of Vietnamese pho, only without any broth to enhance the flavor. So in a nutshell, the lean was excellent and the moist was again a disappointment.

 

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Despite one minor setback and one major one, the visit overall was a success in my eyes.

 

Mr. Sure Thing's verdict: "It was good, but not worth the hype."

 

Stop #3: RUB

Burnt ends were the appetizer at our lengthiest visit of the day. These fantastic twice-smoked cubes of brisket deckle were a bit fattier than usual, but they were a huge hit because they had 1) a perfectly crisp exterior, 2) a perfectly juicy interior, 3) plenty of rub and 4) plenty of smoke. In well over a dozen tries of the burnt ends at RUB, only one or two of them outdid the brilliant nuggets we were served that day. Up until that point, the burnt ends were easily the best thing we ate all day.

 

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A half rack of St Louis cut pork ribs were a little thin and a little firm, but very doable. Nothing was going to match the juiciness of those burnt ends, so being served on the heels of that plate probably didn't do those ribs any favors. The meat still pulled easily from the bone. Flavor was just about perfect, with a noticeably porky flavor, strong rub and heavy smoke. I liked that this was more of a fragrant bouquet of smoke than the soot flavor you usually think of when you think heavy smoke.

 

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Thinly sliced brisket delivered slightly juicy meat that bore a smoke ring and a lighter smoke, oddly, than the ribs. Flavor was also a little lighter, especially after those burnt ends. In the final brisket tally, I had RUB's burnt ends in first place, far ahead of second place Hill Country's lean brisket. A little further back, RUB's sliced flat trumped Hill Country's much ballyhooed moist brisket.

 

Pulled pork had lots of pink color, a high bark ratio and even more of that porky flavor and intoxicatingly smoky bouquet that the ribs foreshadowed. The meat was moist and borderline juicy. Texture was nearly perfect, with only a slightly leaning toward overtender (a little less "bite back" than I like). Flavor was a dead-on perfect 10 (or a perfect 9, for you KCBS types). This was the only item I sauced while at RUB; the pork tasted great with or without the Carolina vinegar. This was probably the best pulled pork I've had at RUB and the best I've had anywhere all year.

 

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Debating whether to try one last item, we went with what was described as "pastrami deckle," a pastrami equivalent of the burnt ends. This is an item that's not always available, but we were in luck that day. It was unquestionably the most impressive presentation of meat we had all day, even outdistancing the burnt ends. First off, it had none of the fat that some of the burnt ends had. Beyond that, everything the burnt ends had, the pastrami had more of: even crispier bark, even more rub, even more juiciness, even more flavor. The kind of flavor that makes a Ronald Reagan puppet say, "That's some nurse!"

 

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Greens were once again finely chopped and cooked well past wilting, with a strong verdant punch from collards, mustard greens and spinach. Baked beans were the best I've ever had at RUB. In the early days, the beans were molassesy smoky. Last year they drifted into ketchupy, but this batch was smoky with a combination of the fragrant smoky bouquet and just a little of that grungy heavy "sooty" smoke to make them interesting in an addictive sort of way. I asked around to see if these three distinct flavor profiles were accidental or by design, and it's the former. I just hope they taste like that next time.

 

So overall, a very successful visit. Everything was at least good, with several items great.

 

Mr. Sure Thing's verdict: "It was very good, and worth the hype."

 

 

 

(07/17/10)

Boston BBQ: More On Remy's

At the end of last month, I wondered (I never assumed, just wondered) if my three early visits to Jerry Remy's Sports Bar and Grill before the season started caught them at their best before a possible slide. The fourth visit was a step down, but that could just as easily have been because it was a lunch visit on the day of a home night game (Fenway Park is next door) or perhaps just random luck.

 

Here's a trio of reviews that were posted a little further after the opening than mine. There seems to be a consensus that the barbecue is a strength.

 

Boston Herald (Mat Schaffer)

Boston Globe (Bella English)

Boston Phoenix (Robert Nadeau)

 

No home games and the All Star Break last week offered a good opportunity for a return. But just like the Red Sox, I was on a roadtrip, and my roadtrip was more successful than theirs. More on that later.

 

 

 

(07/13/10)(second post)

Boston BBQ: Redbones' Next Tour de Force is Tour de France Breakfast, July 14 & 22

Redbones (Somerville MA), known primarily for its late night vibrance, will be setting the alarm clock early tomorrow (Wednesday, July 14) and next Thursday (July 22), as they offer a pair of Tour de France breakfasts. That's because Redbones is also known for their bicycle parking and bicycle delivery, so this makes a lot of sense. Guests are encouraged to ride their bikes in for the live Tour de France broadcasts, but anyone is welcome, regardless of their mode of transportation. The $8 buffet breakfast will be held rain or shine and will include scrambled eggs, sausage, fruit, yogurt, juice, coffee and more, plus a live broadcast of the Tour de France stage 10 (July 14) or stage 17 (July 22). www.redbones.com

 

 

 

(07/13/10)

Brooklyn BBQ: Vanity Fair Names Fatty 'Cue One of the Country's Best

The August issue of Vanity Fair magazine has a list of their top 10 BBQ joints in the country, and upstart Fatty Cue (Brooklyn) was the only Northeast entry. The widespread list has a few of the usual suspects and a few outside-the-box places. And as usual, there's partisan disagreement in the online comments section.

See Vanity Fair's entire list of Best BBQ Joints

 

 

New York City BBQ: Neelys to Open Manhattan BBQ Joint This Fall

The New York Times last week reported that Pat and Gina Neely, those loveable folks from the Food Network, are bringing their Tennessee brand of barbecue north and will open a Manhattan branch at 1125 First Avenue near the Queensboro Bridge.

See the NY Times story on the Neelys BBQ joint

 

 

 

(07/08/10)

Joints Directory Madness

Here's the latest batch of barbecue Joints directory activity, spanning six states. This time there are ten new joints, one closing, two moves, one new website, one new phone number and one joint that got mentioned here already but just got added to the directory thanks to my own flakage.

  • Roundabout Diner and Lounge (Portsmouth NH) is the relocation of the former Muddy River Marketplace (Eliot ME). This got mentioned in a previous post but I forgot to make the corresponding change to the directory. www.roundaboutdiner.com

  • Muddy River Smokehouse (Portsmouth NH), which had been operating separately from Muddy River Marketplace, has meanwhile completed its changeover to a seafood restaurant concept and is now known as Portside Seafoods. There's nary a rib or a pulled pork sammy on the menu now. www.portsideseafoods.com

  • Smokestack Urban Barbecue (Worcester MA) now has a phone number added to the listing, which went up before I got the number. The website is known but still without content other than basic contact info. www.bbqstack.com

  • Georgia's Eastside BBQ (New York NY) now has a website added. www.georgiaseastsidebbq.com

  • Uncle Willie's BBQ (Seymour CT), open since early May, is the relocation of Uncle Willie's Waterbury location.

  • RW's BBQ (Brookfield CT) is a new joint that promises fun for the whole family with barbecue, ice cream and a 21-hole miniature golf course. Thanks to ron for alerting me. www.rwsbbq.com.

  • The "World Famous" Barking Pig (Chelmsford MA) is a one-year-old roadside joint that's more diner (burgers, breakfast sandwiches, pizza) than barbecue. The all-purpose menu has ribs and pulled pork that are "slow roasted." Thanks to Tram for tracking down the info on this joint.

  • The Rack (Carrabassett Valley ME) received a mention in this month's Outside magazine as a watering hole destination that combines refreshment and outdoor recreation (skiing at Sugarbush). It's the only BBQ joint I've heard of with an "apres ski" menu. www.therackbbq.com

  • Silk Road BBQ (Boston MA) is a mix of European, Asian and Jamaican barbecue styles that moved its roadside operation from Belmont to downtown Boston near Rowe's wharf at the beginning of the month. Get your shashleek on! www.silkroadbbq.com

  • Cattlemen's Steakhouse (Lindenhurst NY) has no relationship to the barbecue sauce, but they do carry barbecue in addition to their steaks. There are some eating challenges that are sure to attract a daring crowd. thanks to Sledneck for the (steak) tip. www.cattlemenssteak.com

  • Uncle Jimmy's Backyard BBQ (Brooklyn NY) is a Bay Ridge BBQ joint whose website is rife with photos of the food for ordering guidance, just like they post over the counter at some of those over-the-counter Chinese joints. The photos aren't all that promising, but here's hoping the 'cue there is better than the Chinese at those joints. Thanks to Robert for the lead. www.unclejimmys.com

  • Memphis Smokehouse BBQ (Sarasota Springs NY) is an ice cream stand (Mister Ed's) adding barbecue to an already popular menu. In addition to the usual suspects are smoked turkey drumsticks. www.mister-eds.com

  • When Pigs Fly BBQ Shack (Montauk NY) offers a stripped down menu featuring babybacks, hot dogs and fried foods like chicken tenders and poppers. It's one of the few barbecue joints Newsday's joan reminick gave the thumbs-down to, so that says something. www.whenpigsflymtk.com

  • Joey C's Roadhouse (Milford CT) is a combination BBQ joint and Mexican joint that's a return to comfort food by CIA trained chef Joe Catalano. www.joeycbbq.com

  • Ladder 133 (Providence RI) is the new incarnation of the old Sticky Fingers (not affiliated with the national chain of the same name). Based purely on the website, I'm guessing they're trying to attract a more upscale crowd. Thanks to Mark for the info. www.ladder133.com

  • The Pour Farm Tavern (New Bedford MA) recently added a barbecue menu; their Portugese touches and interesting brunch items also place this one high on my priority of new places to try. Thanks to Steph for the info. www.pourfarm.com

 

I'm also still verifying some info on as many as four New Hampshire roadside trailers that I hope to post next time.

 

 

 

(07/07/10)

New York City BBQ: Say It Ain't So, Lou

Gearing up for my first trip to the Big Apple in more than a half year, I've been studying online menus, and was startled to see the Colorado lamb ribs 86'ed from the Wildwood Barbecue menu. I can only hope this is a temporary deletion.

 

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(07/06/10)

Boston BBQ: M&M is Improper Bostonian's Choice for Best Boston BBQ—Again

Improper Bostonian's annual "Boston's Best" issue is now available in their street corner distribution boxes throughout the Hub, and their pick for best barbecue—for the second year in a row-—is M&M Ribs (Dorchester MA).

 

It's certainly an interesting pick. I wouldn't go as far as to say that M&M is undeserving, because they're not. But I liken last year's win to the 1993 NBA MVP award, which went to Charles Barkley. Sir Charles was certainly an MVP-worthy candidate, but the clearcut winner should have been Michael Jordan. But Michael had already won it three times, and the league was into cultivating stars, so it threw a bone to Barkley. Now imagine if Barkley won twice. www.improper.com

 

 

 

 

(07/05/10)

Connecticut BBQ: Eat Five Pounds of Meat for Fame and Fortune at Flaggstead Texas Smokehouse

Last Friday Flaggstead Texas Smokehouse (Farmington CT) posted a huge banner that kicks off a new eating challenge: finish a five pound chopped brisket po' boy and four sides in one hour and the $45 meal is free. More importantly, you get your name posted among the hall of fame members who've succeeded. Unlike similar challenges, there's another banner that will list the names of those who've failed. www.flaggsteadsmokehouse.com

 

 

 

 

 

(07/02/10)

Connecticut BBQ: Gran' daddy's Reviewed

After a 2 month dry spell with nary a barbecue joint review, I'm getting July off to a good start with a review of Gran' daddy's Smokehouse & BBQ (Putnam CT). Located not too far from the halfway point between New York and Boston, Gran' daddy's offers a brand of barbecue that's clearly outside the mainstream. In my 176th barbecue joint review, I try to determine whether that's a good thing.

 

 

Check it out via the Reviews page, the link above or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.

 

 

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Recent Eats (click photo to view larger image)

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Combo at Smokey's Char Grill, Hamden CT.

 

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Burnt ends at RUB, NYC.

 

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Ribs at Daisy May's, NYC.

 

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Pulled pork sandwich at Virgil's, NYC.

 

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Babyback ribs, pulled pork and steak tips at the Farm Bar and Grille, Essex MA.

 

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Pulled pork and brisket at Blue Ribbon, W. Newton MA.

 

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Pulled pork sandwich at Joey C's, Milford CT.

 

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Pulled pork sandwich at Route 22 Restaurant, Stamford CT.

 

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Pulled pork at Harbor Q, Port Washington NY.

 

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Ribs at Big Apple Barbecue, Port Washington NY.

 

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Pulled Pork sandwich at Burke's Bar-B-Que Barn, Baldwin NY.

 

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Brisket sandwich at Big Daddy's, Massapequa NY.

 

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Ribs at RUB, NYC.

 

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Moist and lean brisket at Hill Country, NYC.

 

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Ribs at Tennessee's, Leominster MA.

 

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Babyback ribs and pulled pork at the Farm Bar and Grille, Essex MA.

 

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Ribs and chicken at Roundabout Diner, Portsmouth NH.

 

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Sausage and ribs at Flaggstead Texas Smokehouse, Farmington CT.

 

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Pulled pork tacos at Smokestack Urban BBQ, Worcester MA.

 

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Pulled pork sandwich at the World Famous Barking Pig, Chelmsford MA.

 

 

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