SouthernQue is a barbecue trailer, parked in a residential driveway around the corner from East Main Street in Meriden. If you’re driving down I-91, it’s just off exit 17 and a refreshing change from the litany of fast food and chain restaurants that comprise that exit’s other options. You walk up one of the trailer’s two sets of stairs to the window to place your order. Meals can be packed to go or for a sit-down meal at the shaded picnic tables behind the trailer, where you can view the smoker.
The SouthernQue menu is basic but flexible. Their ribs are spares, available by the rack ($15.95), half rack ($9.00) and as a dinner “with two fixings and a roll” ($9.50). Pulled pork, chopped chicken, chopped turkey and Black Angus beef brisket are available on sandwiches ($4.50 to $5.50 without sides), as dinners ($8.00 to $10.95) or by the pound ($7.00 to $9.50). They also have half and whole barbecue chickens available a la carte ($5.25, $7.50) and as dinners ($8.50, $10.95) and pork rib tips sold by the pound ($4.75).
On a lunch visit I started with a half rack of spare ribs, with the sauce on the side. The large, meaty ribs had a lightly smoky flavor and a surface that was brown but not crisp. The inside meat was a little on the dry side, and looked and tasted more like a reheated pork chop than a smoked rib. I liked the bright red vinegar sauce, whose unique flavor had strong elements of sweet and tangy. It was thinner than your everyday barbecue sauce, allowing it to enhance rather than overpower the meat.
The star of the show was the pulled pork, which had a good selection of long strings, large chunks and well-colored bark. I liked the slightly-chewy-but-still-tender consistency and loved the sauce—a lighter version of the sweet and tangy sauce that came with the ribs. The use of chopped red peppers in the mix was also a nice touch. I’d rank SouthernQue’s pulled pork among the top handful I’ve tried and am very much looking forward to my next serving.
A brisket sandwich had nearly a half pound of ¼”-thick slices on a fresh bulkie roll. Sauce was again used with discretion, providing just the right moistness but allowing the flavor of the meat to stand on its own. Each slice had a prominent pink smoke ring and a pleasing flavor, with the beef, smoke and sauce all working in harmony. It was very tender and, unlike most brisket, retained its tenderness long after being served. Just like with the ribs, I would have liked a little more crispness along the edges, but this was good brisket.
Sides were very good. Cole slaw had just a hint of condiment, lightly coating the cabbage without stealing any of its crunch. Baked beans were a New England style, but very well executed. Receiving a cinnamon muffin in place of cornbread was a pleasant surprise.
The bottom line:
With the exception of the ribs, everything I tasted was good to very good, with the pulled pork among the best I’ve tasted. I found the portions generous and the value outstanding. For a grab-and-go meal (Thursday to Saturday only) less than a minute from I-91, it's hard to beat SouthernQue.
Ted Lorson's review of SouthernQue
Urban Spoon reviews of Southern Que