On Seekonk’s route 152, Boneyard Barbecue and Saloon is a converted Chinese restaurant that’s been reinvented as a biker bar, rock-and-roll bar and sports bar rolled into one. There are Harley-like Boneyard shirts hanging on the walls and rock-themed art posters in the dining room and rest rooms. TVs are strategically situated all around the joint for watching the big game. The booths are comfortable, the bar is long and there’s plenty of standing room near the hightop tables to the left of the main entrance. It looks like a fun place, though aside from the name out front, there aren’t any clues that this is a barbecue joint.
The menu claims two kinds of ribs (spares and St Louis cut), smoked chicken and “slow roasted” pulled pork, but the main thrust seems to be the burgers (six varieties, all of them beef) and wings (more than two dozen flavors). Other sandwiches include six variations on chicken breast, mostly grilled, and chicken salad. Appetizers are myriad and mostly fried, with house-made chips, curly fries, sweet potato fries, onion rings, fried zucchini sticks, fried mozzarella sticks, fried mushrooms, hushpuppies, jalapeño poppers and toasted ravioli all vying for your daily cholesterol allotment. Salad is also an option, with a house version and several salads topped with tuna, pork or chicken.
I visited with a friend on a Sunday afternoon about a month after Boneyard opened.
We started with an order of fried zucchini, which appeared to be standard food service issue. The crust was thick, though not crisp; the tender vegetable was tasty but overwhelmed by the batter; the marinara accompaniment was straight out of pub food central casting.
An 8-piece order of wings with mango habanero sauce was next. The deep-fried wings were plump, mostly tender and very crisp. The sauce, generous without being overwhelming, was pleasantly sweet.
We ordered 20 more wing pieces later as part of one of the Boneyard’s combo deals. We asked for 10 pieces with hot Buffalo sauce and 10 with dark roast Java, but this wound up being an issue for the kitchen, even though they happily serve an 8-piece order as a minimum. We would have downgraded our combo to 10 pieces and simply added on an 8-piece order, but our server said she already told the kitchen to serve them all dry with the two requested sauces on the side. If we knew that’s what would happen, we would have just ordered 10 pieces to begin with, because we didn’t finish them all. This second batch wound up exposing them as simply dry, deep-fried wings with sauce added at the end. If you like a very thick, breaded, crunchy wing, these may be right up your alley. If you like a smoked wing, a grilled wing or a tossed-in-butter-and-hot-sauce wing, you may be in for a big disappointment.
The other half of the combo was a half rack of spare ribs, a voluminous hunk of meat that was mostly pale on the outside and speckled with only an obligatory toss of rub (your choice of sauce is served on the side). Inside, the meat was far from dry, but nowhere near as moist as you usually find with this cut. There was a hint of smoke aroma and a slight smoky taste, but neither the appearance (no hint of a smoke ring) nor the remaining flavor (bland) suggested pit-smoked barbecue. Tenderness was also a little off, with the meat somewhat stiff and very difficult to cut. The cut of meat and the style of preparation reminded me of the ribs at Chili Head BBQ (not too far away in West Bridgewater MA), but the execution paled—literally and figuratively—by comparison.
Instead of the usual pulled pork or smoked chicken, we took a “when in Rome” approach and ordered a burger, thinking it might be what they do best. Our bacon cheeseburger was fairly humdrum, with nothing memorable but no real problems other than that it was cooked far beyond the requested medium. It was served with house-made potato chips, which had a very light coating of a spicy rub. Some were a little chewy.
Though not available in bottles on the table, more than two dozen sauces may be ordered as wing toppings or to be served on the side with barbecue items. I liked all of the ones I tried, though some didn't taste like the flavor they claimed to be. The mango habanero tasted more like guava than mango and, despite its affiliation with one of the world's hottest peppers, had no heat whatsoever. The coffee-flavored sauce was very flavorful even though I didn't taste the coffee. The spicy barbecue sauce was a nice blend of sweet and tangy, with a thin texture that still adhered to the meat. Overall, the sauces were good to very good.
Two sides (“sidekicks”) came with the combo, so we chose cole slaw and mac and cheese. The former tasted like a store-bought variety; the latter was dry and bland. Both were served in the same size cups used for sauces.
Throughout our visit, the audio backdrop to the meal kept switching between loud music and the NFL playoff game. Either would have been fine, and switching from music to the game once it started would have been fine too, but switching back and forth continually was just annoying. At times the music and the play-by-play were on at the same time, fighting each other. The large screen TV lost its video signal a few times too.
The bottom line: Admittedly, we only tried one of the barbecue items, choosing to deploy our caloric resources among the items most emphasized on the menu. The wings were decent if you can get past the idea that they're breaded, and the sauces were good, but the rest of what we tried didn’t compare favorably with what’s available at similar establishments.
Hot 'n' Saucy Wings review of Boneyard Barbecue & Saloon
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