Review Date: 11/13/15
Visit Date: 11/07/15
Kinfolks Award Winning Barbecue, previously a strip mall operation in Brockton, is now a food truck/trailer parked in the Globe Liquors lot on Route 44 in Taunton. It's a return to the roadside motif that garnered 200 barbecue awards since their start as a barbecue tent in Tallahassee FL.
You order at the window, leave your name and they'll call you when it's ready. Three offset smokers on the street side of the trailer chug smoke as you wait. There are no picnic tables or counters, so takeout and tailgating are your only options.
Despite the outdoor setup, Kinfolks Award Winning Barbecue is open year-round.
Barbecue options offer the basic four of ribs, pulled pork, brisket and
smoked chicken, plus pulled chicken. These are available in several configurations. The ribs can be had as a quarter, half or whole slab ($8, $12 and $24) without sides, and as a quarter or half rack dinner ($12 and $15) with two sides and cornbread. A smoked half chicken is available on its own ($6) and as a dinner ($12). Pulled pork and brisket are offered as sandwiches ($5 and $6), as meats without sides ($12 and $15 per pound) and as dinners ($12). Pulled chicken sandwiches and two- and three-meat combo dinners are also available.
A barbecue bud and I hit Kinfolks on a Saturday afternoon.
The trailer's abbreviated menu isn't really geared to appetizers. Instead, we ordered two platters to get a tasting of the four meats.
Ribs: Tried as a half rack platter ($15 with two sides and cornbread), the
ribs impressed with large, individually cut bones with good meat content, plentiful bark
and a tenderness obvious from their droop. The bite revealed even more
droop, as the meat pulled very easily off the bone without falling off
on its own. Correspondingly, it felt as soft as can be without ever
veering toward mush. And every bite was fully moist, reaching juicy in spots. Flavor was pretty basic
but enjoyable, with the smoke light and the assertive rub a little more assertive
on the crust than the interior. Overall, a solid effort that's the best thing they do and one that stands up very well to the local competition.
Pulled Pork: The 3-meat dinner ($20) delivered pork that was a pile of gray, dry and stringy shreds practically begging for some barbecue sauce. But sometimes appearances—including lack of smoke ring—can deceive. The bite, while still dry, was slightly more moist and a lot more tender than it looked. A little chalky in feel though. The meat had some hints of flavor from the rub and echoes of porkiness, while smoke remained in the background. I'd probably call this the worst of the four meats tried, mostly because it had the least upside.
Brisket: Most of the brisket on the 3-meat dinner was gray; all of it was tender
and fairly moist. Flavor really depended on the vagaries of the different bites.
The majority were bland and pot roasty, but some (near the edge) had
the concentrated barbecue essence of the bark coupled with a punch of
salt and pepper in the rub.
Chicken: The 3-meat dinner's chicken allotment was a breast and wing quarter. White meat has the potential to be dry, and this lived up to that potential and then some by being the kind of dry that's risky if you don't have a drink. That said, the bites still numbered well past a couple because of the delicious rub on the semi-crisp skin. The spice blend was very different from the other meats, different from anything I've had before and very addictive—so much so that I'm eager to order this chicken again. Smoke was fairly light.
Meats summary: A mixed bag with some ups, some downs, some flashes and some potential. I like that the four meats have different flavors.
You have the option of sauced, unsauced or sauce on the side. Beware that first choice, which will open the floodgates and a door to an art studio where red and yellow sauces get intermingled in a pattern that will dazzle the eyes but drown the meat. No sauce at all is no fun, and ill-advised on a day where the meats are dry. So go with the sauce on the side and dunk to your heart's content. But let's get to the heart of the matter.
The yellow sauce is a mustard-based one with hints of heat among the mostly sweet. It's very similar to if not in fact a Cattlemens product that I like a lot.
The brick red sauce is darker than most and again mostly sweet, mostly from molasses, but it doesn't dominate the other flavors that make this one complex and enjoyable.
Mac and cheese: There are loose versions and there are tight versions; this was a combination of the two. The thick coating of mild orange cheese had the potential to be very creamy, but it was served as a unified, seized-up clump. I might give this another try and chalk up the texture to holding and timing.
Collard greens: Perfectly cooked leaves had a thin, sugary sweet and very buttery broth that still let the bitterness of the vegetable prevail. The sugar was a little too much for me, but your mileage may vary.
Baked Beans: Small beans had the appearance of canned, but the flavor was very homey thanks to a thin, sweet sauce very different from most molassesy renditions. Nicely done.
Potato Salad: A home style version with mid-sized chunks, little if any skin and a just-thorough-enough coating of creamy, tangy condiment.
Cornbread: As with the now-closed brick-and-mortar location in Brockton, the Kinfolks cornbread is one of the better examples of the cakey style. I like the crunch on the top surface.
The Bottom Line
Kinfolks Award Winning BBQ is a convenient and worthy stop for barbecue fans working in the immediate vicinity. While there's a dropdown in execution once you get past the very satisfying ribs, there's definitely a bigger step up in quality from the Brockton days.
My 2013 PigTrip review of Kinfolks Award Winning BBQ Brockton
Yelp reviews of Kinfolks Award Winning BBQ
Zomato reviews of Kinfolks Award Winning BBQ
Tabelog reviews of Kinfolks Award Winning BBQ
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