BBQ Review

BT's Smokehouse

392 Main Street (Route 20)

Sturbridge, MA 01566

(508) 347-3188

www.btsmokehouse.com

[no longer at Village Green in Brimfield]

 

category: Massachusetts BBQ, Sturbridge BBQ

 

 

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Visit Dates: (12/30/09) (01/03/10) (01/09/10)

 

One of my last visits of 2009 and two of my first visits of 2010 have been to the all-new, indoor BT's Smokehouse (Sturbridge MA, no longer a roadside trailer in Brimfield MA).

 

 

This new location across the street from Sturbridge Village has raised the bar on several fronts:

 

Comfort: The stand-up counter in a cold trailer has been replaced by three plush, spacious booths in a well heated room. Four swiveling stools face an open diner style kitchen, the perfect stage for chef-pitmaster Brian Treitman to hold court. Homemade pickles and pickled onions are now on offer in serve-yourself bins; pumps dispense a quartet of barbecue sauces. TVs are on the way. And there's a bathroom, a creature comfort not even imaginable at BT's original Brimfield trailer park location or the Sturbridge "Snack Shack" at Yankee Spirits. A beer and wine license is pending, with a BYOB option looming in the more immediate future.

 

 

Menu: Pork ribs now include spares and St Louis cut. These are trimmed in house, making sticky rib tips a new appetizer. Fry vats have made hush puppies, Andouille sausage bites, corn dogs, French fries and onion rings possible. New sides have already included collard greens, skillet cornbread and carrot/raisin slaw, with mac and cheese on the way. The Bison burger with brisket burnt ends mixed into the meat is now a menu staple. Four varieties of wings are now on the menu, served as whole wings. There are more desserts. House smoked salmon is available hot or cold. A chopped salad can be had on its own or with smoked meats, salmon or fried tofu.

 

Execution: The new high volume smoker, higher volume of customer traffic and expanded arsenal of kitchen equipment have combined to improve the freshness of the product. Ribs, for instance, are now prepared for service as ordered, rather than being held in warmers.

 

Value: Sandwiches are available in three sizes: mini, regular and large. Previously, the mini was only available at the "Snack Shack". Whole wings at 3 for $3 is almost unheard of, especially considering that you can mix and match the sauces. Sides are still $1, with cups at $2, pints $3.

 

The full review on the new BT's Smokehouse remains to be written, so consider this a first look only. But as with the original, the new BT's serves up meats and sides that are intensely flavored and very different from what you’d find at your everyday barbecue joint. If you seek bold spices, crave lots of smoke and don’t mind some extra dark bark, BT’s will be right up your alley. With now-comfortable surroundings, some improvements to an already solid core product, an expanded roster of appetizers and a burger to write home about, BT's is already up my alley and a part of my regular barbecue rotation.

 

 

 

 

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Brisket mini from this weekend's third visit presented some of the best brisket I ever had: large unorthodox chunks with a crunchy exterior, a generous spicy/salty rub, lots of smoke, well lubricated inner meat with all the flavor of beefy fat without any visible fat (it was melted in).

 

 

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Ribs on visit 1, night 1: crusty exterior with a savory, salty flavor, plenty of smoke and much-improved tenderness.

 

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Sticky rib tips, lightly sauced on visit 2. These feature a new sweet barbecue sauce that would be at home at a barbecue competition. The exterior gets a char similar to a Chinese takeout rib, but with thicker, smokier, juicier meat beneath. This item is a winner, and I like that the sweetness of the sauce enhances rather than overwhelms.

 

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A closeup of the last sticky rib tip shows off the pink smoke ring.

 

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Sticky rib tips, a little more heavily sauced on visit 3.

 

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Andouille sausage bites are like hot homemade cornbread doughnuts with a surprise inside. These are a little heavier than your typical corndog. I'm predicting this will soon be a much discussed item.

 

Hush puppies (same batter as the Andouille bites, with onions, bell peppers, jalapenos) served with molasses dipping sauce.

 

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A close look at the St Louis cut ribs (tips trimmed off) from a neighbor's plate on visit 2.

 

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The beef rib (also from a neighbor's plate) on visit 2.

 

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Ribs from visit 3: crusty/salty interior, pink/smoky exterior, tender but firm.

 

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More brisket, this time from a combo, on visit 3.

 

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Visit 2's bison burger with brisket burnt ends, onions and secret sauces. The roll is grilled and the ketchup is homemade. The is an extremely juicy burger with a lethal dosage of flavor. The brisket gets a little crisped up while the Bison meat remains soft, offering a unique texture.

 

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A closer look at that Bison burger outer texture from the next visit.

 

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A cross section of the very unusual BT's Bison burger. This is probably my new favorite barbecue restaurant burger

 

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Another BT's Bison burger, served with well seasoned hand-cut fries. Onion rings are coming soon.

 

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A cast iron pan is instrumental in getting that burger flavor/texture.

 

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Wings are plump, smoked and served whole. Here's an unsauced one. The smoke is noticeable but lighter than most BT's fare.

 

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Wings are sauced to order and available in easy-to-order sizes. Here are Buffalo wings with a thick, complex sauce that's a departure from your typical Buffalo wing.

 

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BBQ wings with a sweet sauce.

 

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Cider bourbon wings were also sweet and very different from the barbecue.

 

The new BT's collard greens from visit 2, cooked just-past-wilting, with a not-too-sweet, not-too-spicy broth that lets the vegetable stand mostly on its own. It had more bacon on visit 3.

 

The new skillet cornbread is thicker and studded with jalapenos.

 

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Pig Newtons from visit 3 combine smoky pulled pork, a sweet fig chutney and a flaky pastry crust. It's a tasty appetizer or dessert that nicely mimics its namesake.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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