This preview offers my initial impressions after my first visit to Sweet Cheeks. For the full review based on multiple visits, click here.
Visit Dates: (11/10/11)
The most anticipated barbecue restaurant in Boston history somehow managed a very quiet soft opening two nights ago and two nights ahead of the official opening tonight (11/11/11). I fought the elements (late meeting, rain, traffic, parking ticket) and snagged a table with a frequent barbecue cronie to check out the menu.
I'll do an item-by-item run-down after a second visit, but for now I'll just say that after all the buildup, Sweet Cheeks delivered the goods last night.
Some random thoughts and observations:
Are they the best barbecue joint in Boston? Who knows. But there's no way they're not in the discussion. And they're definitely in my rotation.
Sweet Cheeks is probably the most New York of all the Boston barbecue restaurants—in decor (the wood pile), feel, menu breadth (short rib, pork belly), plating (or lack of plates, going with trays and butcher paper instead) and price.
It was only night #2, but the ship was running as smoothly as possible. Our server knew the menu, discussed the sauces and recommended eating strategies involving the thick cut white bread, onions and pickles.
The pickles, by the way, are excellent. More tart than sweet.
The room is loud and full of energy.
Barbecue textures across the board were spot on, with the right mix of crispy and succulent. Everything was properly moist, with some items juicy. Flavors were a bit muted for Texas style barbecue. There was definitely smoke in there, and flavor was definitely not lacking, but a little extra rub wouldn't hurt.
Meat is available on 2-meat ($24) and 3-meat ($28) trays with two sides, as sandwiches ($10) on Texas toast with one side, and by the pound.
The beer list is extensive.
Sides were generally good. The cole slaw was more of a salad. Trays come with one hot side served in a mug and one cold side served on the tray.
Let's get back to the pricing, which is the only elephant in an otherwise very happy room. A "Big Cheeks" tray with everything you see in photo #5 or photo #6 is $24. I have no quibble with the quality, and I'm willing to pay for said quality, but for $24 you gotta give me more than one slice of brisket.
After one visit, I tried five meats and was generally pleased. I'll be back to try more, probably a few times more before the end of the month. I'm looking forward to it.
other opinion and info:
Urban Daddy preview of Sweet Cheeks
Thrillist preview of Sweet Cheeks
Yelp reviews of Sweet Cheeks
Urbanspoon reviews of Sweet Cheeks