(06/01/07) (06/13/07) (06/22/07)
An early 2007 entry to the Worcester BBQ scene, Woodfire BBQ is located just off I-290, not far from Holy Cross. It looks like a converted residence, with only a counter area and a kitchen. Outdoor picnic tables provide the only seating. On some of my visits, the smokers were in use, filling the summer air with the scent of wood and meat.
The Woodfire BBQ menu is fairly simple: one kind of rib (spareribs), one kind of chicken (breasts), pulled pork and brisket. Brisket sandwiches are served with either tomato salsa or broth and onions. They offer a half dozen different sides, which are on display in a case near the counter. A cookie jar filled with smoked beef jerky is tempting.
On my first visit I tried ribs and pulled pork. Both were very wet and slightly smoky. I liked the fact that the ribs were very meaty without being fatty. I also liked that they were crisp on the outside despite being covered in sauce. And I liked the flavor (sweet and tangy) and texture (thin) of the sauce itself. I thought the sauce enhanced the ribs but overwhelmed the pork.
I returned to try the brisket sandwich with onions and broth. The beef was shredded rather than sliced or chopped, and offered no bark or smoke ring. The beef flavor was heavy, without the smokiness I tasted in the ribs. Although the broth helped, the sandwich was a little dry.
On a third visit I sampled the ribs without sauce. This time I got them on a combo that has three ribs and two chicken breasts. The ribs again had a nice crist, enhanced from some time on the grill before being served. The meat was juicy and flavorful, although not nearly as smoky as the first time. A quick dunk in a container of sauce on the side helped the flavor a little. Chicken breasts were a little dry and not at all smoky (I think they're grilled), but the skin was crisp and tasty.
Sides were pretty average. I tried cole slaw, beans and potato salad and none really stood out as being really positive or negative.
The bottom line: I'm not wowed or even close, but there are some things I like here. It's probably the best barbecue to be had in Worcester right now.