Connecticut BBQ: Dinosaur Hits New England
[12/11/12] Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (Stamford CT) is a New York BBQ institution that's taken Connecticut by storm, making its first entry into New England on December 5. A couple of friends and I stopped in for their first weekend lunch service this Saturday and found the joint jumpin' at 12:30. There were very few signs of rookie jitters; on the contrary, Dinosaur performed to a packed house like a well oiled machine, thanks in part to an influx of talent from upstate New York.
Check out the preview for a quick run-down of what we tried.
See my preview of Dinosaur Stamford
[07/30/11] Boston Magazine's annual "Best Of" issue is available on stands now. The list is partying like it's 1999, at least for the categories I'm most interested in: the best in barbecue honors went to Redbones (Somerville MA) and the best burger was Bristol Lounge (Boston). These are institutions that would have been obvious choices 20 years ago or even 10 years ago. To be named now is a little surprising, but why not? The Redbones win ends a two year streak for M&M Ribs, which ended a three year run for Blue Ribbon.
Not BBQ, Not Even Ribs: The McRib Is Back
[10/27/10] The infamous McRib sandwich, a creation that was called a "conglomeration of pork waste" in a recent Wall Street Journal article, is back out of hibernation—but only in select locations across the United States. Fortunately, one of those locations is a mile from my home, so last week I did what I usually do: rushed there with great anticipation, took a few bites of my less than great sandwich, threw the rest away and left with no plans to order another one until the next resurfacing in a year or so.
There's a niche of Asian vegetarian restaurants that have been struggling in vain for decades to make tofu taste like pork. Defiantly, McDonald's has mastered the technique of making pork taste like tofu.
To find the participating McDonald's location nearest you, check out the McRib Locator mentioned in the Journal article.
Boston BBQ: M&M is Improper Bostonian's Choice for Best Boston BBQ—Again
[07/06/10] 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
New York BBQ: Hill Country Goes Whole Hog Every Tuesday permalink
[04/07/09] There have been a few unpublicized dry runs already, but tonight Hill Country (NYC) officially kicks off its weekly Tuesday Night Whole Pig event. Although whole pigs are available elsewhere in the city by advance reservation and by committing to the entire animal, Hill Country is changing the pig paradigm by offering it in any quantity to anyone who happens to get a craving around 7:00PM. It will be sold by weight and be priced at around $22 per pound, about the same as the moist brisket.
Pitmaster Pete Daversa [no longer affiliated with Hill Country] recommends getting there early. “In our test runs we elevated the pig on upside-down hotel pans on the meat counter, and that attracted a lot of attention. We sold out in less than 45 minutes.” He also encourages customers to request any part of the animal they like: “The cheeks, the hams, the loins, the legs, you name it, you can have it.”
Hill Country pitmaster Pete Daversa
Daversa has been experimenting with various sized pigs and should have one weighing more than 50 pounds for tonight’s festivities. He immersed it in a brining liquid last night so it would be ready for its 11 hour stint in the smoker. “The brine is to infuse moisture, not flavor,” notes the pitmaster. “We want to maintain the integrity of the pig’s natural flavor.”
Here's lookin' at you, pig
Granted, Hill Country is a Texas barbecue joint and whole hog isn’t exactly a Texas staple, but Daversa shrugs that off. “Despite the stereotype about Texas barbecue being primarily beef, there’s a lot of pork being done down there, whether it’s ribs or chops. We decided a long time ago that we weren’t going to do pulled pork sandwiches, because everybody else is doing that. But this sets us apart. This is our take on pulled pork.”
Massachusetts BBQ: BT's Smokehouse Opens "Snack Shack" Location in Sturbridge
[11/20/08] Last Saturday, BT Smokehouse (Brimfield MA) unveiled their new second location in Sturbridge MA, just 3/4 mile west of the Mass Pike (I-90) interchange. It's at the front right corner of the Yankee Spirits building behind Burger King. BT's has a BYOB option, so you can even pick up some beer at Yankee Spirits and bring it into BT's to enjoy with your barbecue.
The Sturbridge location is a tiny space designed for quick over-the-counter take-out, but there's a small dining counter (think Gray's Papaya in NYC) where you can set up shop and slurp down some hot chili on a cold day like today. The abbreviated menu includes pulled pork and beef brisket (available as mini and full size sandwiches, pints and quarts), BT's award winning brisket chili, homemade soups and Nathan's™ hot dogs (when you move into a hot dog stand, it makes sense).
All the meats are smoked daily by chef Brian Treitman at the original Brimfield location, which will continue to offer its full menu that also includes pork ribs, beef ribs and chicken.
BT's Snack Shack is open Tuesday through Sunday 11AM to 6PM. The week after Thanksgiving, the Brimfield location will be trimming back to winter hours of Thursday through Sunday, 11AM to around 8PM.
Massachusetts BBQ: Tennessee's BBQ Opens Fifth Massachusetts Location in Leominster
[11/19/08] A stone's throw from Route 2, Tennessee's BBQ opened late last week in a mini strip mall in Leominster MA. It is the fifth Massachusetts outpost for the barbecue mini-chain, which opened its doors in Framingham MA in the spring of 1997.
The space is consistent with the other Tennessee's locations, mixing corrugated aluminum, plenty of stools among the booths and tables, and a clean overall look. There's a deck outside (behind the railing) that might offer al fresco dining in the spring. With winter on the way, a working fireplace inside with soft benches is a nice touch.
The smoker is a Southern Pride and the service is over-the-counter (the Milford branch offers table service).
Massachusetts BBQ: Tennessee's BBQ To Open Fifth Massachusetts Location in Leominster
[11/05/08] According to the Tennessee's website, it's already open, but the Leominster MA location is still about two weeks away. A stone's throw from Route 2, Tennessee's Leominster will be the fifth outpost for the barbecue mini-chain, which opened its doors in Framingham MA in the spring of 1997. I took a peek inside the restaurant, which is still under construction but looks like it will be ready to roll soon. It's very nice looking in a Panera sort of way, with cozy fireplace seating in addition to the standard tables.
Boston Magazine Names Blue Ribbon As Best BBQ in the City
For the third year in a row, Blue Ribbon (W. Newton MA and Arlington MA) took the Boston BBQ crown in Boston Magazine's annual "Best Of" issue, available on stands now.
Earlier this month, Blue Ribbon reclaimed their title as Boston's Best in Improper Bostonian, making the Boston Magazine nod their second dual recognition in the last three years.
Worcester Living Names Firefly's Best BBQ in Worcester
Worcester Living's annual "Best Of" issue is out, and its readers picked Firefly's as the best BBQ in Worcester. Quite an accomplishment, since its westernmost location in Marlboro is four towns away from Worcester. I guess that pretty much sums up the state of Worcester BBQ. You'd think New England's second largest city would have a decent BBQ joint within its own environs, but that's just not the case.
Tremont 647 Named on of Boston Magazine's 25 Best Restaurants for Outdoor Dining
The menu at Tremont 647 runs the gamut from highbrow to lowbrow, and the latter end features one of the better burgers and some of the best ribs to be had within the city. These are best enjoyed on the outdoor patio, where you can take in the night air and practice some high quality people watching. Boston magazine feels the same way, naming the restaurant one of the city's 25 best for outdoor dining.
Phantom Gourmet BBQ Beach Party, June 18-22
Just as New York City is gearing up for the 6th annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, Boston is welcoming the second annual Phantom Gourmet BBQ Beach Party two weeks later.
The line-up of pitmasters includes:
Joe Alexander (of Rasta Joe's, Indiana)
Dennis Carino (of Porky 'n' Beans, Florida)
Dallas Green (of Cowboys Barbeque and Rib Company, Texas)
Dan Johnson (of Johnson's Bar-B-Que, Virginia)
Butch Lupinetti (of Smack Your Lips BBQ, New Jersey)
Paul Mackay (Awesome Aussie BBQ, Australia)
Jack McDavid (of Jack's Firehouse in Philadelphia and co-host of Food TV's Chillin' and Grillin')
Tuffy Stone (Q Barbecue, Virginia)
Steve Uliss (of Firefly's BBQ, 3 locations in MA)
John Willingham (of Willingham's, Tennessee)
For more details and tickets, see www.phantomgourmetbbq.com
Big Apple BBQ Block Party, June 7-8
It's exactly two months until the 6th annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party rolls into Manhattan. On June 7 and 8, you can taste the array of barbecue profiles from Texas to Alabama to Mississippi to the Carolinas and back to New York City as national and local pitmasters converge for this 2-day event. The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party is also an excellent opportunity to meet some of the nation's legendary pitmasters, such as Chris Lilly, Mike Mills, Ed Mitchell and more.
So far, the line-up of New York BBQ restaurants includes:
Blue Smoke (Kenny Callaghan)
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (John Stage)
Hill Country (Marc Glosserman)
Rack & Soul (John Wheeler)
The line-up of nationally-known restaurants/pitmasters includes:
17th Street Bar & Grill (Illinois, Mike Mills)
Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q (Alabama, Chris Lilly)
Black Jack BBQ (S. Carolina, Jimmy Hagood )
Mitchell's BBQ (N. Carolina, Ed Mitchell)
Salt Lick BBQ (Texas, Michael Rodriguez)
Ubon's (Mississippi, Garry Roark)
For more details and tickets, see www.bigapplebbq.org
"Hopocalypse Now" at Jake's, Apr 28
From the people who bring you Rib Wars each summer comes Hop Wars, an epic battle of the IPAs at Jake's Dixie Roadhouse (Waltham MA). On hand will be celebrity judge Kerry Byrne, food writer for the Boston Herald and beer writer (nice gig) for Esquire magazine. The line-up of brews, served in a blind tasting, will be IPAs from Boulder Brewing, Dogfish Head Brewing, Harpoon Brewery, Smuttynose Brewing, Stone Brewing, Wachusett Brewing and Waltham's own Watch City Brewing. All of these will be paired with an unlimited supply of all-you-can-eat barbecue.
The event costs $29.95 and requires reservations.
Stout & Porter Dinner at Redbones, Mar 24
Will Meyers of Cambridge Brewing, Tod Mott of Portsmouth Brewing and Allen Rietz of Dogfish Brewing are the guest speakers at Redbones (Somerville MA) for their stout and porter on Monday, March 24. The event, including the speakers, dinner and beer, costs $45 and requires reservations. www.redbones.com
New Year's Eve at East Coast Grill, Dec 31
East Coast Grill (Cambridge MA) will have a four-course prix fixe menu with five options for course 2 and four options for the entree, with seafood and grilled meats equally represented. There are so many good looking choices that choosing will be tough. Reservations are accepted for parties of all sizes. www.eastcoastgrill.net
New Year's Eve at Tremont 647, Dec 31
Tremont 647 (Boston MA) is also offering four-course prix fixe menu, with multiple options for each course. The lobster pot pie and the "fudge for the table" options both caught my eye, as did the special New Year's Day brunch the next morning. Next door at Sister Sorel, they're going to party like it's 1989, with eighties music and cocktails, and a jello shot toast at midnight. www.tremont647.com
New Year's Eve at Route 7 Grill, Dec 31
Route 7 Grill (Great Barrington MA) has a 3-course menu, with a choice of baked stuffed sole or prime rib for the entree. www.route7grill.com
New Year's Eve at Hill Country, Dec 31
Hill Country (New York NY) will feature dancing and live music with the Jack Grace Band starting at 11PM. For food and drink there are three options requiring reservations: a "chow down" tasting menu, "just drinkin" from an open bar, and chow down plus open bar. The everyday Hill Country marketplace menu will also be available all evening with no reservations required. www.hillcountryny.com
Beer & BBQ Pairing at Blue Smoke, Nov 12
In New York City a week from Monday, Blue Smoke Executive Chef Ken Callaghan and Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster Garrett Oliver will discuss how to pair beer with food and host a 5-course dinner. Look for pork belly, Louisiana white boot brigade shrimp, smoked chicken and much more, paired with Brooklyn Brewery craft beers. This event is $99, with reservations recommended.
Chili Challenge at Jake's, October 22
October is National Chili Month, and Jake's Dixie Roadhouse (Waltham MA) is holding their annual Chili Challenge and Heatfest on Monday, October 22, from 7PM to 9PM. For $12.95, you can sample chili from nine competitors and vote for the winner. Competitors from the barbecue world include Blue Ribbon, Andy Husbands (of IQue and Tremont 647), Uncle Jed's BBQ team, Haggerty's Hell Raisers BBQ team and Jake's Dixie Roadhouse. Reservations (and Rolaids) are required, so call the restaurant at (781) 894-4BBQ to get your seat.
BBQ Battle Benefit in Sayvile NY, October 20-21
Summer may be over, but that doesn't mean barbecue contests and festivals can't continue. The first annual Battle of the BBQ Brethren will be a part of the Sayville Fall Festival on Long Island next month. Though many of the teams are members of the BBQ Brethren, the sanctioned barbecue contest is open to all teams and will have a minimum $5000 prize pool. It's also being held as a benefit for Breast Cancer Help, Inc., a charity that is at the forefront of the fight against breast cancer on Long Island.
There will also be crafts, food vendors, films, parades and other family entertainment. Barbecue vendors signed up include Willie B's BBQ (an event sponsor, Bay Shore NY) and Tennessee Jack's (E. Islip NY).
The contest organizers are looking for KCBS cerified judges for the event. See the event website or email email@example.com for details.
Big W's Named for Best Pork Ribs by Hudson Valley Magazine
The October 2007 Hudson Valley magazine is out, and its annual "Best of the Hudson Valley" issue honors Big W's Bar-B-Q (Wingdale NY) for best pork ribs.
Uncle Pete's Adds Burnt Ends
Uncle Pete's Hickory Ribs (Revere MA) just added another item to his arsenal: burnt ends smoked for 20+ hours.
Boston Herald article
Village Smokehouse Named Best BBQ in Boston by Improper Bostonian
It's that time of year again, and the Improper Bostonian's annual "Best Of" issue is on the stands. This year's barbecue stand-out is the Village Smokehouse in Brookline, a joint that's been around for 20 years. I should note that the winners were selected by a "celebrity" panel.
Sam Adams Ribs at Jake's
Jake's Dixie Roadhouse (Waltham MA) is now featuring special St Louis ribs cooked over a low wood fire using Samuel Adams Utopias beer barrels. (Utopias is the beer that's so strong, it's forbidden to be sold in 14 states. It has a warm, sweet flavor highlighted with hints of vanilla, oak and caramel.) The ribs are then finished with a Sam Adams Black Lager BBQ sauce.
T.O.N.Y. Poll Names Blue Smoke Best BBQ
Tequila Menu at Chili Head BBQ
Chili Head BBQ in W. Bridgewater MA recently put together a new tequila menu featuring more than 40 varieties. You can select individual tequilas or samplers of three different varieties of the same brand, each aged for different lenghs of time.
Cookhouse Offers Pull-Your-Own Whole Butts
It started at RUB in New York City with a pull-your-own whole butt. Then Daisy May's in NYC upped the ante with its Big Pig Gig menu offering whole pig, half pig, whole smoked pork butt and 8-bone American rack of lamb. Now interactive barbecue is crossing the Connecticut border as the Cookhouse, with 4 locations, will be serving up 8-lb Smithfield butts in what it's calling the Big Pig Pull.
Firefly's Sauces To Be Sold at Star Market and Shaw's
Steve Uliss of Firefly's Bodacious Bar-B-Que announced last week that his barbecue sauces will soon be available at Star Market and Shaw's supermarkets throughout the New England area. These will include the new Dixie Kiss sauce, a bottled version of the sauce used on the ribs that won first place in the 2005 Best of the Best invitational in Douglas, GA.
Ribfest at Virgil's, Wednesdays
Virgil's Real Barbecue in New York City's Times Square is continuing their Ribfest that includes 5 different types of ribs for $28.95. Ribs include chipotle/honey St Louis ribs, Asian style beef short ribs, pork loin babyback ribs, lamb riblets and Virgil's pork spare ribs.
Big W's BBQ Moves Indoors
After operating out of a roadside stand on Route 22 in Pawling NY and promising to open a real restaurant, Big W's BBQ finally did it. In early December the restaurant version opened in a stripmall in Wingdale NY. They'll be open at 4PM every day but Tuesday, closing when the food runs out.
1475 Route 22
Wingdale, NY 12594
RUB Named in 10 Bites of the Big Apple by Travel+Leisure
Travel and Leisure's December issue has an article featuring New York's Top 50, and included the Pulled Pork at RUB as the #6 entry in their 10 Bites of the Big Apple list. According to the list, "the burnt ends are pretty good too." Gee, ya think?
Redbones Named Boston's Best by Weekly Dig
The DIG's October 25 issue announced their 2006 DIG This awards, naming Redbones in Somerville for Best Boston BBQ. Runners up included Blue Ribbon, Soul Fire and Pit Stop BBQ. www.weeklydig.com
RUB Named Best of 2006 by Village Voice
Village Voice came out with their Best of NYC awards, and RUB took "Best Raunchy Ribs" honors.
Firefly's Wins Cape Cod Classic Grilling Contest
At the final New England Barbecue Society event of the 2006 calendar season September 30 and October 1, Firefly's (Marlboro and Framingham, MA) was the grand champion of Saturday's grilling contest and reserve grand champion of Sunday's barbecue competition.
Daisy May's Wins Hudson Valley Ribfest
On August 20, Daisy May's BBQ was named Grand Champion of the KCBS barbecue competition at the 2006 Hudson Valley Ribfest in New Paltz NY. They also took the trophy for best brisket.
Yankee Magazine Names N.E. BBQ Joints
After mentioning East Coast Grill in an earlier article spotlighting Cambridge, Yankee magazine in the July/August 2006 issue does a survey of New England barbecue, recommending one joint from each of its 6 states: Blue Ribbon Bar-B-Q in Newton MA, Wood's Pit BBQ in Bantam CT, Down 'n' Dirty Bar-B-Q in Manchester NH, LJ's BBQ in Pawtucket RI, Curtis's All American Bar-B-Q in Putney VT and Buck's Naked BBQ in Freeport ME.
RUB Menu Available at Gotham Comedy Club
RUB 's next door neighbor, the 300-seat Gotham Comedy Club, will provide RUB barbecue on site. Upcoming comedians performing at Gotham include Harlan Williams and Jake Johannsen.
More Accolades for Blue Ribbon
The August 2006 Boston Magazine named Blue Ribbon of Newton MA and Arlington MA for Best BBQ in Boston. A few weeks back, Blue Ribbon was also named Best BBQ by Improper Bostonian in their annual "best of" issue.
Bacon on the Menu at RUB
RUB added a new appetizer a few wees ago: BBQ Bacon Chunks: "house cured and triple smoked Berkshire black pork belly bacon (nitrate free)." I think of it as the pork version of their burnt ends.
BBQ Joints Among Cheap Eats in NY, Boston
In New York Magazine's August 2006 rankings the 101 best cheap eats in the city, barbecue restaurants did well. Blue Smoke ranked #26, with Charles' Southern Style Kitchen at #35, Rack and Soul at #47, Daisy May's BBQ USA at #54 and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que at #65. My first reaction was why wasn't RUB included? Especially considering they were named best BBQ by the very same magazine just 5 months earlier. Reading the details, it looks like Blue Smoke's inclusion had more to do with the burgers than the barbecue. Ditto Dinosaur and their wings.
The Boston Phoenix had a similar list, with 50 meals under $10. Blue Ribbon BBQ in Newton and Arlington made the list for its brisket sandwich. In the print version, there aren't any rankings. In the online version, Blue Ribbon came in at #1. I can't say I disagree. A few weeks back, Blue Ribbon was also named Best BBQ by Improper Bostonian in their annual "best of" issue.
Rib Wars at Jake's Dixie Roadhouse, July 31
This fun annual competition at Jake's Dixie Roadhouse in Waltham wound up with competition teams beating the restauranteurs for both the people's choice and judge's choice awards. Defending champion Andy Husbands of Tremont 647 lost his crown to the Haggerty's Hell Raiser's BBQ team (people's choice) and Uncle Jed's BBQ team (judge's choice). The I Smell Smoke team, who through sustained high contest results in New England Barbecue Society competitions won Team of the Year honors this July, placed second in the people's choice.