Archive - June 2012
Connecticut BBQ: HanBone's Reviewed
The site's 254th barbecue review is for HanBone's BBQ (Hamden CT), a takeout joint just north of New Haven. Check out the review via the Reviews page, the link above or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.
See my review of HanBone's BBQ
Boston BBQ: Redbones Review Update
The review updates roll on, this time for Redbones (Somerville MA), a Boston BBQ institution for two and a half decades. In my 2006 review, I declared they got their mojo back after a bit of a slump, but how have they been lately? Check out the 2012 review update via the Reviews page, the link above or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.
See my review update for Redbones
Maine BBQ: Back to Binga's
Binga's Stadium Smokehouse (Portland ME) recently expanded their menu to bolster the smokehouse side of things. No longer just a sports bar and wings joint that only dabbles in 'cue (smoked wings, ribs, pulled pork), they've now added burnt ends, hog wings, smoked-then-grilled sausage, cured-then-smoked Canadian bacon and sliced smoked brisket. I visited last weekend and tried a good cross section of the menu.
Burnt ends: This menu entry caught my eye a month ago when I first noticed the barbecue menu expansions. When the plate ($6.99) hit the table, the cubes of beef brisket deckle (the fattiest part) looked good, bearing dark surfaces and leaking juices. The bites varied greatly in these categories, but for the most part they had very impressive juiciness and good crustiness without killer crispiness. Fat also varied, with some pieces mostly fat but most pieces just right. Tenderness was right on the money. Flavor brought much smoke and a pleasing rub that emanated more from the interior. Overall, these were some surprisingly solid burnt ends—at a (predominantly) wing joint, no less—that might even rank among the best ones I've tried in the Northeast.
Ribs: A half rack of babybacks from the 2-meat combo ($22.99), requested unsauced, had a crusty exterior with no grilling required. Meat volume was very high for babybacks. There was only a hint of a smoke ring, but the flavor was just smoky enough to know they were smoked (especially after the no-doubt-smoked burnt ends). The meat didn't have much of a rub flavor, which was a minor disappointment when I recall the very strongly flavored ribs from the first visit. A faintly sweet backdrop to the meat and some really good juiciness helped bridge the gap. We're talking only decent ribs here, probably around average, that would probably be better if ordered sauced. That's what I'll do next time (and there will be a next time) if I don't get the appetizer ribs instead. Which reminds me: the appetizer ribs were what I had last time, and they were St Louis cut spares, so either the app and entree ribs vary or they've switched cuts.
Brisket: Grilled slices had a darkened surface that sweated juicy fat. A quick rip revealed ideal tender-not-droopy texture and pinker meat on the cross section. The grilled flavor was the monopolizing component, but not too heavy, allowing the rub flavor (more inside than outside) to sing backup, with light smokiness further back. Each slice had a crisp exterior yielding to a thin layer of fat, yielding to a thicker layer of tender meat. This brisket struck me as beefy, steaky bacon that would be right at home atop a burger. If you're looking for a meaty experience that's a little different, this is one worth trying. If you're seeking more traditional brisket, this might not be for you.
Wings: Smoked wings ($6.99 per 6) covered in Cajun rub had some mild smoky fdlavor and some heat to be reckoned with. "Plain Jane" wings (no smooke, no breading) with hot mango sauce deftly delivered a scintillating mix of sweet and heat but struck out on the crispy.
Cole slaw: This was very odd, made with mostly if not entirely lettuce, not cabbage. The backdrop was a thin mix of mayo and cider vinegar.
Collard greens: Something must have gone awry here, because the thin broth had so much salt it couldn't possibly be intentional. And remember, I like salt. The leaves were cooked just right though.
Cornbread: Most cornbread tastes faintly of corn and mostly of cake, but this one defied stereotype with a grilled version tasting like buttered popcorn. It wasn't burnt at all, but the nearly-burnt-kernels aspect added a refreshingly different dimension to the corny flavor. I liked it.
Visit summary: There were some ups, some downs and some mehs, but overall a positive visit. Whether your visit will be positive depends on how much you require that the barbecue and sides mimic their counterparts of barbecue meals in your past. At Binga's they're going to be different—sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but usually just different, which is okay by me. I'm hoping to return later this summer and update the 2009 review to include the findings above and in my next visit.
See the 2009 PigTrip review of Binga's Stadium Smokehouse
My 10 Most Wanted BBQ Joints
Way back in the earliest days of this site, I'd periodically list the ten still-unvisited joints in the Joints directory I most wanted to hit. Here are ten that are on my mind right now, not counting joints that have yet to open and joints (or expansions of joints) I've already visited.
1. Kit Kat's Smoked BBQ, Pawcatuck, CT
There are several good signs here. That they have 'Smoked' in their name is one. That they started as an outdoor operation in southwest Rhode Island and have grown the business to an indoor restaurant in southeast Connecticut is two. But what has me most gripped is their website background image of a thick, juicy rib with a perfect smoke ring. www.kitkatsbbq.webs.com
2. Prohibition Pig, Waterbury VT
They take their beer seriously here and they put a lot of creativity into the smoked fare. I celebrate rather than bemoan the idea that they're not another copycat barbecue joint. Whether it's a venison or pork infused burger, fried chicken on a house Cheddar biscuit, varying sausage or even a seafood dish that does the trick, the constant Facebook menu specials never fail to get me excited about this place. www.prohibitionpig.com
3. Texas Ranger BBQ at Legends, Queens NY
This out of the way joint is the last remaining link to Pearson's—one of New York City's earliest forays into true barbecue and a long-gone joint that was ahead of its time.
4. Smokin' Good BBQ, Bethel ME
You gotta love trailer operations, and this one—formerly known as BBQ Bob's—has received a lot of love already. It's also a long drive from PigTrip International headquarters, so the love may be more related to lack of serious competition than actual quality, but the drive will probably be worth it: I'll either hit a new great one or have ammo to dispel the legend. www.smokingoodbarbecue.com
5. Town Line BBQ, Sagaponack NY
On my list for years, this eastern Long Island joint has eluded me with a prohibitive mix of geography and Hamptons beach traffic, but all the reports I've received so far have been very positive. I'm still angling for a ferry ride for a quick (okay, not so quick) daytrip to see what the fuss is about. www.townlinebbq.com
6. Bubby's, NYC (Brooklyn and Manhattan)
Years ago I assumed they were just a matzoh ball soup and homespun pie place that dabbled in faux 'cue, but a closer examination of their menu—and a recommendation from one of the city's most respected pitmasters—revealed more of a real deal slant. Barbecue availability is a bit of a problem, as the Manhattan location only serves it after 6:00PM; the Brooklyn location offers it at lunch but not on weekends (brunch only). Someday the planets will align. www.bubbys.com
7. Cider House BBQ, Waterbury VT
It's always a great feeling when someone writes in and tells me that they found a great place because of a rec on PigTrip. Similarly, I have a few go-to sites, and if Hot 'n' Saucy Wings is high on Cider House BBQ, then so am I (big shocker: I'm a wings fan too). www.ciderhousevt.com
8. Four Points, Winterport ME
The buzz on this Maine newcomer is as strong as the one in Bethel, though the same far-from-others reservations apply. One thing I've noticed is that the 'cue is only available 'til it runs out. www.4pointsbbq.com
9. American Glory, Hudson NY
By all accounts, it's one of the more impressive BBQ spaces, but that's where the agreement ends. The skewed Yelp ratings (they're all skewed, but this one more than most) are piquing my curiosity. www.americanglory.com
10. Perigee, Lee MA
This has the makings of one hifalutin joint (is that an oxymoron?), but there's nothing wrong with that as long as the quality lives up to the trappings. www.perigee-restaurant.com
Joints Directory Madness
Here's the latest batch of barbecue Joints directory activity, spanning five states. This time there are two new joints, five closings, one sale yielding a new name in the same place, one new food truck parked in the same place and one menu expansion making a partial barbecue joint more barbecue.
NEW JOINTS and/or NEW TO THE DIRECTORY
Holy Smokes BBQ (Marlborough NH) is a seasonal Texas style barbecue trailer that sets up on weekends at the corner of Route 101 and Roxbury Road. Thanks to Jeff for the tip. Facebook
Red House (Deep River CT) is a new joint in that already barbecue-heavy area between New Haven and New London. The menu items lean toward barbecue, but the descriptions (braised this; slow-cooked that) don't exactly inspire a lot of confidence. I hope I'm wrong. www.redhouserestaurantct.com
Holy Smokes BBQ Delicatessen (Turners Falls MA) closed last Saturday, but weep not for Papalu: 'twasn't lack of customers that killed this beast, but rather a lack of staffing to handle both the storefront and the more lucrative catering gigs that'll now be their primary focus. www.holysmokesbbq.com
Smokin' J's Real Memphis BBQ (Wilmington VT) appears to be closed. The phone is out of order, there's been no Facebook update in a while and a Yelper saw a "For Rent" sign on the place. They've closed seasonally before, so it might come back. I hope they do, because I've heard good things. Facebook
Smokin' Rock BBQ (Rocky Hill CT) has evidently been closed for well over a year.
Hill's Top BBQ (Bartlett NH) is now closed. Thanks to Jaclyn for the heads up.
Curtis BBQ (Chester VT) has closed its year-round indoor location. The seasonal outdoor location in Putney is still open. www.curtisbbqvt.com
CnD's Barbecue Grille (Wakefield MA) is closed—sort of. Technically, it's a new joint, under new ownership, and with a new name: Pitstop Barbecue Wakefield. The menu is very similar to the old one; whether it's the same ol' frozen and reheated fare remains to be seen. Reviews on Yelp and Urbanspoon have been both positive and suspect, so this looks like a job for you-know-who. Facebook
Firefly's Bar-B-Que (Marlborough MA) to my knowledge has never had lunch service, but they've just unveiled a new food trailer that sets up in the restaurant's parking lot for a smaller, changing-daily lunch menu without the table service. You can take the orders to go or eat in their patio tables. www.fireflysbbq.com
Binga's Stadium Smokehouse (Portland ME) was a mostly-wings, partly-BBQ joint that's recently balanced out with a barbecue section that includes smoked wings, burnt ends, sausage, ribs, brisket, chicken and pulled pork. www.bingasstadium.com
My Kind of Rest Room
If you follow PigTrip BBQ Reviews on Facebook, you know where this
photo was taken. I might visit again in the next couple of weeks.
Massachusetts BBQ: People's Pint Reviewed
The site's 253rd barbecue review is for brewpub People's Pint (Greenfield MA), a joint known most for its beer, but they also have a few smoked items worthy of investigation. Check out that investigation via the Reviews page, the link above or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.
See my review of People's Pint
Joints Directory Madness
Here's the latest batch of barbecue Joints directory activity, spanning four states. This time there are four new joints, one expansion, one closing that's claiming to be a move, another closing that'll probably have a reopening, two new websites and one new Facebook link.
NEW JOINTS and/or NEW TO THE DIRECTORY
The Millers BBQ (East Hampton NY) is a new Eastern Long Island joint specializing in takeout. Thanks to both Chuck and Sledneck for the lead. http://www.themillersbbq.net
Smokin' Wolf BBQ (East Hampton NY) is another new Eastern Long Island joint located in the former Turtle Crossing space and run by its former chef, Arthur Wolf. It's open Thursday through Sunday, serving a menu that's deep (two different chili options), varied (Southwestern, quesadillas, five different salads) and eclectic (half duck, pulled duck, Asian wraps). Thanks to both Chuck and Sledneck for the lead. http://www.smokinwolfbbq.com
Zeke's Smokehouse Grill (Bernardston MA) is a new Cajun/barbecue restaurant named after a dog and situated in what used to be the 19th hole at the Crumpin-Fox Club. Thanks to Ashley for the info. http://golfthefox.com/Crumpinfox/zekes.html
Blue Ribbon Bar-B-Que (W. Newton MA and Arlington MA) has expanded their operation to now include a the Hoodoo Trailer in Needham, running weekdays for lunch and dinner. http://www.blueribbonbbq.com
Aunty M's Weekend BBQ (Cohasset MA) is a Friday-through-Sunday operation run by some of New England's most successful competition barbecue cooks. The menu includes smoked wings, ribs, pulled chicken and pulled pork. Facebook
Larry J's House of Q (Chelsea MA) is closed temporarily. According to their Facebook page, they're moving to a new city. According to a mole, that city is South Boston. Stay tuned. http://www.larryjshouseofq.com
Kansas City Smokehouse (East Meadow NY) has closed, continuing the bleak outlook for Long Island BBQ. Thanks to Robert for the info. Knowing this owner, though, it's only a matter of time before he's back with yet another barbecue venture.
Massachusetts Burgers: Brick Wall Burger Reviewed
Here's another burger review, this time in the western part of Massachusetts. It's for Brick Wall Burger (Greenfield MA), an old time joint that grinds its own burgers from beef, pork, chicken, portobello and black bean.
See my review of Brick Wall Burger
Maine BBQ: East Ender Reviewed
The site's 252nd barbecue review is for East Ender (Portland ME), an eatery with a diverse menu that includes a few different slow smoked barbecue options. Check out the review via the Reviews page, the link above or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.
See my review of East Ender
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