Review Date: 11/17/15
Visit Date: 11/12/15
The unassuming building on a main drag just a few blocks from Route 24 looks like a converted pizza shop, with a small counter and bar up front and a narrow but spacious dining area to the left. You order over the counter from a blackboard menu.
Ed sticks to the basics with a four-meat stable of ribs, pulled pork, brisket and chicken, but there are a few offshoots. Your chicken can be a half bird as a dinner plate with two sides and cornbread, or a pulled chicken sandwich with fries. Pulled pork and brisket are similarly offered as dinners and sandwiches. Your ribs can be St Louis cut spares, babybacks or "Big Babybacks," all offered as full or half rack dinner plates. If you want variety, add pulled pork or brisket to your ribs for an additional four bucks. If you want to add both, go for the "Lil Feast platter" with a half rack, pulled pork, brisket, two sides and cornbread. The "Big Feast Platter" makes it a full rack with separate half racks of St Louis and babyback ribs.
I stopped into Ed's Famous BBQ solo for a late-week weekday lunch.
There are no real appetizers as such (unless you count fries and onion rings), so I focused on three meats with a Lil Feast platter.
Ribs: A half rack of St. Louis cut spares on the Lil Feast platter ($19.99)
showed good size, a bumpy surface and a good amount of rub. Cutting the stiff slab
into individual bones was a bit of a challenge with a plastic knife, but
it was tender enough to make it achievable. The cross-sections were uniformly gray and slightly moist in a steamy way.
Unfortunately, it was easy to tell this was a reheat: the dense rub
still had the effects of condensation, keeping it near liquid, and
various spots within the meat were cold. Tenderness within the individual bones was better than expected, though closer to pork chop consistency than rib consistency. Flavor from the rub was very evident on the surface and complemented by the grit from the coarse salt and sugar crystals—pleasing, actually. A quarter-inch down and below was a different story, not bringing that same rub flavor and not bringing any smoke. The only thing I tasted was that familiar Cookshack tinniness (whether they actually have a Cookshack, I have no idea). These ribs reminded me very much, and in every aspect, of the ones at Chili Head BBQ about 45 minutes north in West Bridgewater—not pleasing, actually.
Pulled Pork: The Lil Feast platter supplied a boatload (of the cardboard variety) of soft, gray, tender meat. Bits of darker bark appeared here and there, but for the most part it tasted as gray as it looked. The impressive arsenal of sauces was called to arms and helped greatly. Kudos for the extra generous serving, the tenderness and the (turkey thigh) moistness, but this is yet another example of a meat that would succeed as part of a larger ensemble (sandwich with condiments) but left a little to be desired on its own.
Brisket: A much smaller allotment than the pork came in quarter inch slices that
were crispy on the edges and near crispy throughout, with nary a hint of
moisture. Whether simply a few days old or shocked into a scorched and scaly appearance
by the reheat, the surfaces looked dark and weathered. That said, the
flavor from both smoke and rub came through in a big way, reaching well
below the surface to the entirety of each brittle slice.
Meats summary: There's no real unifying theme here. Ribs and pork were semi-moist while brisket was very dry. Ribs were flavorful at the surface, brisket had flavor throughout and pork wasn't flavorful at all.
Ed's has a whopping seven different sauces to choose from, all home made and all enjoyable.
Original is your basic riff on a bottled sauce: dark, sweet, a little tang, highly viscous but still spreadable.
Sweet looks like the Original but tastes very different, with some serious depth of flavor and what I believe are Asian influences. Sweet & Spicy seems like a hotter version of Sweet.
The Carolina Vinegar sauce looks typical but is much more densely packed with diced red peppers and black pepper, giving it some heat to go along with the tartness.
Sweet Mustard mimics the familiar Cattlemen's mustard sauce in appearance, texture and flavor. It combines a smooth mustardy base with equal amounts of heat and sweet. Hot Mustard seem to have a similar base with more heat and less sweet.
Blazin' Hot is a vinegar pepper sauce similar to Tabasco, but with much more strength.
Cole Slaw: A substantial serving in a Styrofoam cup brought crunchy, finely chopped cabbage and a condiment nearly equally mayoey, vinegary and sugary. The end result was similar to store-bought but a little bit better.
Baked Beans: Here's another substantial serving, also similar to storebought/canned, but kicked up with a sweet, molassesy sauce that probably incorporates one of the barbecue sauces.
Cornbread: A small cube is coarse, corny and not nearly as sweet as most.
The Bottom Line
You get a lot to eat for the price. Sauces are interesting and well executed. The meats on their own? Less interesting and not as well executed, but doable as a convenient stop off the highway.
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