Archive - August 2012
Joints Directory Madness
Here's the latest batch of barbecue Joints directory activity, spanning four states. This time there are five new joints, four closings, one reopening and one joint listed as closed that's now corrected to seasonal.
NEW JOINTS and/or NEW TO THE DIRECTORY
Ducks Eatery (NYC) is another Asian-barbecue fusion project, with some great looking advance food photos. Thanks to Robbie for the lead. www.duckseatery.com
Pork Slope (Brooklyn NY) is a Park Slope offshoot of Talde that's as much drinkery as eatery, and partly barbecue (ribs, pork, brisket) when it comes to meatery. (Also featured are manfood staples chili, burger, Chicago dog, wings, fried chicken, po boys). www.porkslopebrooklyn.com
Lost Nation Smoke Company (Essex Junction VT) is a seasonal lunch stand (Tuesday through Friday) run by one of the Green Mountain State's earliest barbecue competitors. Facebook
Bluebird BBQ (Burlington VT) is a new joint that opened in mid July. Meats are smoked onsite; some even have a maple mop. Any chili that has bone marrow sour cream is one that I'm gonna try. Thanks to Rich for the lead. www.bluebirdbbq.com
Meadowbrook Orchards (Sterling MA) is a farm that serves legit smoked barbecue dinners every Thursday night from June to October. Thanks to John for the info.
The Bearded Pig (Somerville MA) has closed, after less than a month (barely two weeks, actually) in business in their Union Square location. The official story is that there were issues with the smoker, but I think there's a story behind the story. It's likely that they'll resurface somewhere else down the road (perhaps literally). Thanks to Ling for some early info.
RUB Bourbon and Barbecue (North Adams MA) is closed.
Fat Pat's BBQ Shack (Jamaica NY) is also apparently closed. Either that or they prefer to operate without a working phone and website.
Russell's Ribs (Groton CT) has closed. Thanks to Steven for the info.
Gerard Farm (Framingham MA) has reopened its takeout operation. The hut at the top of the hill that served barbecue years ago is still vacant, but the main building's kitchen serves smoked fare up until 6:30PM. However, their website appears to be down: www.gerardfarm.com
Shaker Mountain Barbeque (New Lebanon NY) is a still-open seasonal joint that I incorrectly had grayed out as closed (though their website is also down). Thanks to Zeke for the info. www.shakermountainbarbeque.com
RJ's Grub (Sunderland MA) now has a website: www.rjsgrub.com
Bar Q (Stamford CT) now has a website: www.barqstamford.com
If They Put Y'all Back in Chains
Joe Biden's not the only one who has a problem with chains. Anyone who knows me well enough to have nominated places to eat together knows that I don't like chains and will avoid them at all costs. It's least common denominator food, usually cooked offsite, frozen, shipped, thawed and reheated without skill and served without pride. It's more about marketing and cost control than about flavor. That said, some are better than others. Here are the ones I find the most bearable, listed in alphabetical order with no implied ranking.
It's quick, it's inexpensive, it's fresh, the meat portions are diet-sensible, the salsas are good and the flavor per calorie is reasonably high. I'm predicting that if it hasn't already, Chipotle and its ilk will make a dent into barbecue sales, especially among the younger demographic.
Part nostalgia, part quality, DQ is surprisingly doable for fast food burgers and the go-to place for non-premium soft serve, keeping things fresh with monthly Blizzard options. I'm a big fan of the perfect curl at the top of the dessert. Not a fan of the soft serve diameter that's narrower than the cone diameter, but if that keeps drippage (and evidence) to a minimum, I can deal.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Whoa, calm down, fellow burger snobs, I'm only talking bearable. When it comes to this ever expanding burger chain, I'm on an island. There are those who love it and those who hate it, and while I can see both sides, I can't really back either position. On the downside, there's no value meal, not much flavor to the beef and a near-guarantee off a torn patty. On the upside, complimentary peanuts are a nice touch, every burger is cooked to order (not in advance) and the staff has energy and enthusiasm rarely seen in retail nowadays. Oh, and the fries are hot and fresh, outshining the burger.
In 'n' Out
This is a regional burger chain that's far ahead of any of the nationals in their freshness and execution. Is it as good as Shake Shack (which I'm excluding from consideration only because there aren't enough of them yet)? No way.
Out of the gate strong with ahead-of-the-curve use of now-commonplace ingredients such as scallions, they've slipped some, but their respectable chicken noodle soup defies logic at a mere 120 calories for an entire bowl. And while their bread may not make you bypass your neighborhood bakery (if you're lucky enough to have one), it's fresher than any other chain I can think of. They hoodwinked me into joining their rewards program, which hooked me with frequent wins in the early going and now pays off only every 20 visits or so with a free drink. A note to the fellas: chicks dig Panera. 'Nuff said.
It was Theo Epstein's misguided spending and ridiculously poor talent evaluation that torpedoed the 2011 and 2012 Red Sox, not Popeye's. Their chicken is arguably better than the colonel's and their sides (especially the dirty rice) are inarguably better.
They're a little like the girl with the glasses on The Brady Bunch, having receved a makeover (ooh, square plates! ooh, lighting that looks like upside-down wine glasses!) and letting it get to its collective head, but Ruby Tuesday is my only choice for a mid-level national chain. Their salad bar is reasonably priced, semi-reasonably stocked and unreasonably chilled to about -10F. Hidden gem: the pumpernickel croutons with a crusty exterior, chewy interior, aggressive salting and an ungodly amount of oil baked in. Not that it's saying much—and it's been a while since I've tried it—but the Triple Prime Burger is probably the best I've had at a national all-purpose chain.
There was a time long ago when I was still on Team Dunkin, laughing at all the Starbucks suckers who were drinking strange coffee that tasted like pencil sharpener shavings doused with hot water. Now I'm one of them. It took a total tank job by Dunkin' Donuts (I still believe they were once good, up until the mid-90s) to get me to switch, and I'm glad I did. Starbucks baked goods might leave something to be desired, but they're no less fresh than the factory-made, truck-shipped cardboard crap Double D is peddling. The coffee is superb, as long as they're serving one of their original flavors (Komodo Dragon, Sumatra, Italian, Sulawesi, Tulowitski or the like) and not one of the recent ones (Pike Place, Christmas Blend, Anniversary Blend).
Does their frequent smile-shaped cutting of the sub roll put a frown-shaped expression on my face? Yes. Does it annoy the hell out of me that I often have to ask for more lettuce three times in the same visit just to get it to reach both edges of the sandwich? Yes. Is the food even that tasty? Not really. But it's doable and healthy as long as you skip cheese, any red meat and any creamy dressing. There's better food and there's healthier food, but no chain strikes the balance between diet and doable better than Subway.
The Pabst Blue Ribbon of burgers, White Castle succeeds not on quality but on affordability, quantity-friendly packaging and pinpoint consistency (if achieving guaranteed mediocrity counts as consistency). The oniony aroma and baby-soft steamed bun make those gray patties not only bearable but quite desireable as long as the visits are well spaced.
Connecticut BBQ: Rockhouse BBQ Reviewed
The site's 260th barbecue review is for Rockhouse BBQ & Wings (Manchester CT), a small, over-the counter joint on Main Street. 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 Rockhouse BBQ & Wings
Boston Burgers: Happy's Reviewed
Here's my review of the WOWburger at Happy's Bar and Kitchen (Boston MA), the Fenway comfort food joint addition to Michael Schlow's ever expanding restaurant empire.
See my review of the WOWburger at Happy's Bar and Kitchen
Joints Directory Madness
Here's the latest batch of barbecue Joints directory activity, spanning four states. This time there are three new joints, four closings, one move, one new phone number and one new website.
NEW JOINTS and/or NEW TO THE DIRECTORY
The Bearded Pig (Somerville MA) is a catering operation that evolved into a full fledged restaurant, opening its doors aftet much anticipation just one week ago today. I've already been twice. www.thebeardedpig.com
The Beach at the Sands Atlantic (Atlantic Beach NY) is a beach club and event venue that just added a barbecue restaurant. Don't shrug it off before seeing the website photos and before knowing that the cooks have been trained by competition legend Myron Mixin. Thanks to both Chuck and Robert. www.thebeachlongisland.com
Outpost BBQ (Kerhonkson NY) is an outdoor Hudson Valley joint "in the middle of nowhere" owned by the farm that supplies it. Thanks to Henry for the lead.
Picnic, Smoked (NYC) has apparently been closed for a year.
Frankie D's (Kingston MA) is now closed. Thanks to both Kim and Brian for the info.
Bayou (Westerly RI) is now closed. Thanks to Urbanspoon for the info.
Dagwood's (New London CT) is now closed, after a fairly short run. Thanks to Mona for the info.
Connecticut BBQ: Kit Kat's Reviewed
The site's 259th barbecue review is for Kit Kat's Smoked BBQ (Pawcatuck CT), a homy indoor Connecticut joint with a Rhode Island outdoor past. 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 Kit Kat's Smoked BBQ
PigTrip is Six Years Old Today
Today PigTrip turns six. Coming off a year in which there was a temporary retirement, things moved along quite steadily over the past twelve months: 37 new barbecue reviews, 12 barbecue review updates and 21 burger reviews.
I failed in my hope of getting back into the barbecue and restaurant essays that were a hallmark of this site in its 2007-2008 heyday, but they'll come at some point. I did come through with ranking the barbecue restaurants in New York and Boston. These rankings will continue, and I still plan to post top 10 lists for various meats, sides and other attributes.
One thing though is certain: the number and frequency of reviews and posts will be ramping downward, not upward. Interest has not waned one bit, but the available time, funds and calories are not what they once were. Still, I have the same focus today as six years ago: to eat and to share, with uncompromising honesty and fairness. I have no desire to prove anything to anyone or to line myself up for freebies. I'm not trying to turn this blog into a book or television show. PigTrip isn't about me, it's about the food. I'm still hungry.
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