Your guide to BBQ joints in Boston, New York and everywhere in between

 

 

 

Recent Features:

Fatty Cue First Visit Recap

Blackstrap BBQ opening

Damon Amendolara interview

Dinosaur Harlem's new digs

BT's Smokehouse opening

 

Recent BBQ Reviews:

Larry J's House of Q

Chelsea MA

Nat Hayden's Windsor CT

Ember Room NYC

Rodeo Bar & Grill NYC

Joey C's Roadhouse Milford CT

Blackstrap BBQ Winthrop MA

Hill's Top BBQ Bartlett NH

Buck's Naked

Freeport ME (update)

Moat Mountain Smokehouse

North Conway NH

Pete's BBQ Pit Dracut MA

CnD's Barbeque Grille

Wakefield MA

 

Burger Reviews:

Ritual Worcester MA

Scholars Boston MA

Corey's Catsup & Mustard Manchester CT

Radius Boston MA

Back Bay Social Club Boston MA

Harry's Bar & Burger Providence RI

Beehive Boston MA

Lord Hobo Cambridge MA

Towne Boston MA

 

Other Reviews:

Donna's Donuts

 

Older Features:

2009 BBQ Wings Rankings

2009 Chili Rankings

Phantom BBQ Beach Party '09

Big Apple BBQ Block Party

Phantom BBQ Beach Party '08

Nick Solares Interview

Inner Beauty Hot Sauce

Hog Pit vs Hill Country

NY vs Boston

How To Be A Good Waiter

Jake Jacobs at Roadhouse

NY is Boston, Boston is NY

Chris Hart interview

Wildwood review rebuttal

Blue Ribbon commissary

Chris Schlesinger interview

 

 

New Sponsor:

 

Find an outdoor barbecue and other grilling needs

 

pepper mashes, mustards and tongue tingling condiments that'll rock your world

 

Joints by Region:

 

Boston metro BBQ

Boston 'burbs BBQ

Massachusetts BBQ

 

New York City BBQ

Brooklyn BBQ

Long Island BBQ

Hudson Valley BBQ

New Jersey BBQ

 

Rhode Island BBQ

Connecticut BBQ

 

Vermont BBQ

New Hampshire BBQ

Maine BBQ

 

 

 

 

BBQ by City:

(coming soon)

 

Albany NY

Arlington MA

Augusta ME

Bay Shore NY

Boston MA

Bridgeport CT

Brockton MA

Brookline MA

Brooklyn NY

Burlington MA

Burlington VT

Cambridge MA

Concord NH

Edison NJ

Elizabeth NJ

Fairfield CT

Framingham MA

Hartford CT

Lowell MA

Manchester NH

Massapequa NY

Merrick NY

Milford CT

Montpelier VT

Nashua NH

New Haven CT

New London CT

Newton MA

Newport RI

New York NY

Northampton MA

Norwalk CT

Norwood MA

Nyack NY

Patchogue NY

Peabody MA

Plymouth MA

Portland ME

Portsmouth NH

Poughkeepsie NY

Providence RI

Queens NY

Revere MA

Saratoga Springs NY

Somerville MA

Southington CT

Springfield MA

Stamford CT

Waltham MA

Waterbury CT

White Plains NY

Woburn MA

Worcester MA

Yonkers NY

 

Archives:

Jan '11

Dec '10

Nov '10

Oct '10

Sep '10

Aug '10

July '10

Jun '10

May '10

Apr '10

Mar '10

Feb '10

Jan '10

Dec '09

Nov '09

Oct '09

Sep '09

Aug '09

Jul '09

Jun '09

May '09

Apr '09

Mar '09

Feb '09

Jan '09

Dec '08

Nov '08

Oct '08

Sep '08

Aug '08

Jul '08

Jun '08

May '08

Apr '08

Mar '08

Feb '08

Jan '08

Dec '07

Nov '07

Oct '07

Sep '07

Aug '07

July '07

Jun '07

May '07

Apr '07

Mar '07

Feb '07

Jan '07

Dec '06

Nov '06

Oct '06

Sep '06

Aug '06

 

 

 

 

 

Archive - February 2011

 

 

(02/24/11)

Retired?

 

This site is done. I'll leave all the existing content up for posterity and reference, but the updates are no more.

 

Thanks for reading, thanks for the leads on new barbecue joints and thanks for the feedback. Thanks to those who've joined me on barbecue crawls. They'll continue, just a little less frequently.

 

I still love barbecue.

 

Peace.

 

 

 

 

(02/12/11)

Boston Burgers: The Back Bay Social Club Burger Reviewed

Here's the latest of my occasional departures from my usual review of barbecue joints throughout New England and New York. For the first time, I wanted two tries at a burger before posting a review, and the Social Burger both times at Back Bay Social Club (Boston MA) was fantastic.

 

 

See my review of Back Bay Social Club

 

 

 

(02/10/11)

Long Island BBQ: Smokin' Al's Revisited

A few weeks ago I hit Long Island for a weekend barbecue crawl. The biggest name in Long Island BBQ is Smokin' Al's, with wildly successful joints in Bay Shore (the original) and Massapequa Park (the expansion a few years ago). My second visit to the latter got a decent sampling of their barbecue menu. Here's my take:

 

Ribs: "St Louie Grand Backs" is the name Smokin' Al uses for his alternative to babybacks. These ribs, trimmed lengthwise but as thick as you'll find in a St Louis rib, are cut from the spares closer to the belly than the back. Ordered unsauced, these arrived with a well developed and well charred crust. That crust didn't show much rub, and the cross sections didn't show any pink, but visible moistness and good fat content (neither too much nor too little) made them appetizing. Flavor was equal parts char and pork fat, with as-expected low levels of rub and smoke flavor. Meatiness and moistness carried the day here. Sauce was hardly necessary for moisture but went a long way toward adding some much needed flavor and counteracting the bitterness of the char. With sauce added, these ribs were solid and clearly above average for the area.

 

click to view larger image

 

Brisket: The Ribs-and-Meat combo ($20.99 with two sides) packed about a dozen slices of brisket on the plate. Color was monotone, with only the faintest of outer crusting, no smoke ring and little to no visible moisture. Tenderness was adequate without being noteworthy. Flavor was pleasant enough, with a slight sweetness to the beef profile, but nothing really compelling. Smoke here was noticeable, but as with the ribs, it took a back seat to the char grilled flavor that added some bitterness to the equation. The meat was painfully dry. This brisket might have worked a little better in a sandwich, where sauce could remedy the dryness and a thick bun could provide a good vessel for the tender, charry meat. But on its own, this brisket was barely average overall.

 

click to view larger image

 

Pulled pork: The "Carolina" pulled pork sandwich ($10.99 with fries and slaw) supplied a super generous portion of pork and a nearly as generous amount of thick, sweet sauce, pushing the already tender meat toward liquid territory. If there was any smokiness in the meat, I failed to detect it. This was a soggier style (from both the oversaucing and overcooking) than I prefer, but if you like a sloppy sandwich that's as much about the sauce as about the meat, this one is a good example.

 

click to view larger image

 

Sides: Creamy cole slaw expertly balanced a heavy dosage of mayo with an equally heavy dosage of black pepper, making it a very enjoyable complement to the sweet and charry meats. Sweet potato fries—a free upgrade from the standard fries that come with the sandwich—had a rare combination of crunchy exterior, tender interior, autumnal flavors (cinnamon, maybe nutmeg) and a homemade feel. I really liked the texture of the fusilli pasta in the mac and cheese, but thought the cheese was on the bland side. Baked beans didn't make any impression. Cornbread was a typical but competent Twinkie derivative.

 

Outlook: I have mixed feelings about Smokin' Al's, which I liked much more at the time of my original review in 2006. At that time, I had only tried their pork ribs, which are much more of a strength than the pulled and sliced meats. I still like Smokin' Al's, and still rank them in my top three or four for Long Island, but their barbecue stock has dropped somewhat.

 

 

 

 

(02/08/11)

New York City BBQ: A Return to Blue Smoke

As I mentioned again recently, in my original 2006 review of Blue Smoke (NYC) I called them "the Bert Blyleven of barbecue: closer to all-star caliber (if that) than hall of famer, but worthy of a spot in your rotation." Now that Blyleven himself has finally made the hall of fame, I figured another visit—make that a nighttime visit—to Blue Smoke was in order to see if time would be equally kind to the restaurant. But first, an explanation of the metaphor: Blyleven was a very capable 1970-1990 pitcher who was often the ace of his team, but never among the best in the game. Similarly, Blue Smoke is a good barbecue joint, one that deserves props for its high levels of atmosphere and service, and for being the restaurant that ignited the barbecue renaissance in New York City that continued with Daisy May's, Dinosaur, RUB, Hill Country and Wildwood. Unfortunately, just as Blyleven—though very good—was overshadowed by Seaver, Gibson, Palmer, Hunter, Perry, Jenkins, Saberhagen, Clemens and countless others, Blue Smoke is overshadowed by many of the New York barbecue joints that followed.

 

Here's a run-down of the visit:

 

Visit: I visited two Sunday nights ago, when restaurant week was in effect. There were a few choices each in the appetizer, entree and dessert categories, but my guest and I were there to survey the full spectrum of 'cue, so we ignored those offerings and ordered off the regular menu. Actually I was the guest, collecting on a dinner bet thanks to the New York Jets' loss to Pittsburgh a week earlier.


Service: Our friendly server cheerfully handled our request to receive brisket instead of ribs on the Rhapsody in 'Cue platter (to try everything and avoid duplication from the Rib Sampler, which we also ordered). While I'm glad that the kitchen was just as accommodating, I wasn't thrilled with the $2.50 substitution charge. If it were the other way around, asking for ribs instead of brisket, that would be more than fair, but charging more for a cheaper cut of meat didn't seem cool. That said, I don't expect restaurants to maintain a detailed list of what substitutions cost what amount, so I'm more than cool with a blanket $2.50 charge that keeps things simple while discouraging rampant substitutions. After that, we never saw our server again, and had to get drink refills from the hostess. But I did like that the runner explained the different rib cuts and sauces while presenting the two platters, similar to the way it's done at high end restaurants.

 

Beef ribs: Historically, the back cut beef rib has been my favorite item at Blue Smoke. Not only has it never disappointed, but it's at least in the same league as the ones at Hill Country and Wildwood, and arguably the best of the three. Sunday's version kept the streak going, with an amazingly appetizing bright red smoke ring, good crispness on the exterior, plenty of smoke and rub flavor from surface to bone, and good moistness. Back to the flavor: this one had less salt in the rub than usual, a little less pepper than usual, more coriander and extremely little if any sugar. I remember the earliest versions having a salt-pepper-sugar harmony, then a transition to a sugarless pepper-happy rub, and now this one. I like all three, but I miss the salt. Regardless, this was a very satisfying beef rib that could be eaten with gusto, as there was no membrane or fat to interfere.

 

click to view larger image

 

Babyback ribs: These were also cooked to the perfect doneness, allowing a clean bite with a little snap. Moistness was slight. Flavor? Well, I like the lightly sweetened mustardy kick of the "Original" (sweet mustardy) sauce when used as a dip, but something gets lost when it's cooked into the meat. So, just as on my last visit in November when I only had the babybacks, these had an odd flavor that just didn't do it for me. The meat beneath was hammy, closer to ham hammy than rib hammy. So despite a good cut and a good smoking job, these babybacks let me down strictly on flavor.

 

Spare ribs: Appearance was fine thanks to a maroon crust. Moistness was more than fine, presenting a profusion of juices. Flavor, though less intense all around than the beef ribs, was fine too. But the cut was a departure from my most recent spares sampling about 15 months before this visit. Instead of the thick cut that gets even meatier at the rib tips, these were long, flat and thin, with much more fat and gristle throughout. Overall this was okay, but a dropoff from previous spares here and a bigger dropoff from the spares at Wildwood, which targets a similar demographic.

 

click to view larger image

 

Sausage: Though far more Italian than barbecue, this one had a lot to like: crisped up skin, decent juiciness and a light coating of sweet Kansas City (molassesy) sauce that contrasted the heat of the meat nicely. So what's not to like? Volume. On the Rhapsody in Cue platter, you don't get a whole sausage. You don't get a half sausage, bisecting it halfway along the length or against the length. You don't even get a quarter sausage after both bisections. You get a subset of that, about the length of a Band-Aid with a semicircle cross-section. At least all the cutting had no adverse impact on moistness. Quantity and "authenticity" aside, I think I liked this sausage more than Wildwood's, though not as much as RUB's or Hill Country's.

 

Brisket: I was looking forward to my first tasting of Blue Smoke's brisket. We asked if our brisket portion could be divided evenly between the "lean" and the "marbled" choices, and again, the kitchen accommodated, so that further mitigated the surcharge. The quantity was much more generous than the sausage (which may explain the lack of generosity with the sausage), supplying two lengthy slices from the flat and two separate chunks from the deckle. The slices had a prominent smoke ring, good tenderness, very good moisture, nice flavor with hints of sweetness mingling with the beef, with a tasty spice rub crust. The marbled brisket was more tender, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture and not too much fat. Its flavor beefwise was superior to the sliced but lacked the rub treatment that I enjoy more. Both were very competently prepared, very enjoyable and easily among the top third of brisket I've sampled across New England and New York. Unfortunately, a comparison to three notable barbecue houses within a 10-block walk yields the same result as a comparison of Blyleven to the top pitchers of his era.

 

click to view larger image

 

Pork: A burger-sized pile was topped with a light coating of the Original sauce. Although the meat wasn't pink like I like, I liked this pork, which at first was intimidating due to the higher-than-expected fat content and overcooked ("pre-chewed" comes to mind) consistency. Eventually I acquired a taste for it, and the memory improved after a few days of reflection. The pork had that appealing "piggy" flavor (possibly from parts of the animal beyond the shoulder) that a pig-loving friend of mine seeks. Of all the meats I tried, the beef rib is the one I'd most like to have again based on excellence, but the pork is the one I'm most looking forward to revisit based on pure curiosity. I think I'd prefer it in a sandwich though.

 

click to view larger image

 

Chicken: A leg/thick quarter had extremely crisp skin, extremely tender meat, good moistness and a simple, straightforward chickeny flavor. As chicken goes, it was beyond reproach. I just wish it had more of a barbecue flavor profile. Although clearly smoked, it didn't have a smoky flavor or much of a barbecuey rub.

Summary/Outlook: I was looking forward to my dinner visit to Blue Smoke with hopes of being wowed or disappointed, so I could come back with tales of glory or horror, but neither happened. My opinion of Blue Smoke remains unchanged: they're good, but aside from the beef ribs, you can do better at other barbecue joints around town.

 

 

 

(02/07/11)

New York City BBQ: A Visit to Daisy May's

My recent New York BBQ trip included a quick stop at Daisy May's to see if their ribs had improved from last time. They did, slightly.

 

Ribs: A Saturday late lunch visit found both the sweet/sticky and dry rubbed varieties a little fresher tasting than last time, without losing that deep flavor intensity that hits you from bark to bone. I generally prefer the dry rubbed version, but the sweet and sticky for the second visit in a row proved superior, hitting each rib with just enough lubricant and flavor boost without giving the slightest idea that it was a crutch. The problem with the dry rub was that there was so much of it on the surface that it once again wound up being under-heated and chalky. Moisture was merely adequate on both. Smoke was more than noticeable on both, and rub brought a really pleasing, slightly sweet spiciness to both. Overall, these were good ribs that have been better than good in the past.

click to view larger image

click to view larger image

 

Cole slaw: This was outstanding, served refreshingly colder than room temperature but not ridiculously cold like usual. Flavor here was just as intense as in the ribs, with a hint of mustard collaborating with the mayo to provide a creamy kick.

 

Baked beans with burnt ends: These brought a nice smoky-molassesy fusion and a fresh texture, but New York's finest should put out an APB on the promised burnt ends. In five years of Daisy May's visits, some beans portions bring more burnt ends than others, but these had absolutely none.

 

 

 

 

 

(02/06/11)

Joints Directory Madness

Here's the latest batch of barbecue Joints directory activity, spanning four states. This time there are four new joints, two closings and one new website.

  • Mable's Smokehouse and Banquet Hall (Brooklyn NY) is yet another Williamsburg barbecuery that doesn't open 'til 5:00PM. The pre-opening photos on Thrillist have me digging the place just on their look and feel. I'd post one here, but stealing other people's photos isn't my thing. The menu looks pretty interesting, with a rotating assortment of late night snacks, including Velveeta/Ro-Tel queso dip, Frito pie and pulled pork and brisket tamales. Thanks to Chuck for the lead. www.mablessmokehouse.com

  • Great Brook Farms (Bolton MA) is a country style eatery currently on their winter schedule, which includes breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday. The barbecue lunch specials include pulled pork, brisket and ribs; more mainstream fare includes deli sandwiches, a Cuban and a couple of salads. Thanks to Steve for the lead. www.greatbrookfarms.com

  • The Dancing Pig (Cumberland RI) is a new 2-story joint that offers "American Comfort Food with a barbecue influence." Their menu already had me planning a couple of visits; this weekend's Platinum Plate review from TV Diner has accelerated that first visit. Thanks to owner Kyle for the heads-up. www.thedancingpigri.com

  • Route 22 Restaurant (Stamford CT) is now closed. For anyone interested in lame sudsy faux 'cue at nearly twice the price of real 'cue, their Armonk NY location is still open. www.rt22restaurant.com

  • Marfa (NYC) is now closed, ending the all you can eat specials that made visiting them such an enticement. Who knows whether it was those deals or the fact that they had to have them in the first place that drive them out of business.

  • Ember Room (NYC) is a new (opening Monday) Asian fusion barbecue restaurant that's a collaboration between Todd English and Ian Chalermkittichai. According to the menuless restaurant website, these "culinary geniuses" have created "a totally unique dining experience that blends Asian sensibilities with the American palate." A menu on Grub Street lists chocolate babyback ribs, two-textured shortribs, a pulled pork sandwich and whole suckling pig. Thanks to Robert for the lead. www.emberroom.com

  • Little Red Smokehouse (Carver MA) was listed as a back-from-the-dead reopening a while ago, but now their website is now finally working. The menu has even more new items than promised. www.littleredsmokehouse.com

 

 

(02/03/11)

New York City BBQ: Rodeo Bar Reviewed

The site's 206th barbecue review is posted for Rodeo Bar & Grill (NYC), a joint that bills itself as New York City's "premier Southern roadhouse." Check out the review via the Reviews page, the link above or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.

My weekend visit to Rodeo Bar came within hours of a return visit to Blue Smoke, located just two and a half blocks west on 27th Street. I'll post my thoughts on that visit within a week.

 

 

 

(02/01/11)

Connecticut BBQ: Joey C's Reviewed

The site's 205th barbecue review is posted for Joey C's Roadhouse (Milford CT). Close to the halfway point between New York and Boston, Joey C's is easy to get to off the highway and close enough to the fast food alternatives that you could grab a takeout order and bring it somewhere else. How's the food? Find out in the review via the Reviews page, the link above or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.

 

 

 

January 2011 archive

December 2010 archive

November 2010 archive

October 2010 archive

September 2010 archive

August 2010 archive

July 2010 archive

June 2010 archive

May 2010 archive

April 2010 archive

March 2010 archive

February 2010 archive

January 2010 archive

December 2009 archive

November 2009 archive

October 2009 archive

September 2009 archive

August 2009 archive

July 2009 archive

June 2009 archive

May 2009 archive

April 2009 archive

March 2009 archive

February 2009 archive

January 2009 archive

December 2008 archive

November 2008 archive

October 2008 archive

September 2008 archive

August 2008 archive

July 2008 archive

June 2008 archive

May 2008 archive

April 2008 archive

March 2008 archive

February 2008 archive

January 2008 archive

December 2007 archive

November 2007 archive

October 2007 archive

September 2007 archive

August 2007 archive

July 2007 archive

June 2007 archive

May 2007 archive

April 2007 archive

March 2007 archive

February 2007 archive

January 2007 archive

December 2006 archive

November 2006 archive

October 2006 archive

August/September 2006 archive

 

 

Recent Eats (click photo to view larger image)

click to view larger image

Ribs at Blackstrap BBQ, Winthrop MA.

 

click to view larger image

Ribs at SoulFire, Allston MA.

 

click to view larger image

Pulled pork sandwich self made from the brunch buffet at Firefly's, Framingham MA.

 

 

 

 

 

Got a question or comment about this site? Got a BBQ joint lead?

Please feel free to contact me: GARYatPIGTRIPdotNET

©2006-2011 pigtrip.net | all rights reserved Joints | Reviews | Ramblings | News | Links | Recipes | About | Home

 

Your Gateway to Barbecue Information
A service of
netRelief, Inc.

This site is a member of The Smoke Ring
A linked list of BBQ websites Next - Skip Next - Next 5 - Prev - Skip Prev - Random Site

Join the ring or browse a complete list of The Smoke Ring members

If you discover problems with any of The Smoke Ring sites,
please notify the Ringmaster