Country Good BBQ is tucked behind a gas station on meandering Route 12 in Fitchburg, not too far from Route 2. Just to make sure you're fully aware that this is real barbecue, the phrase "Smoked BBQ" is incorporated into the sign (the smoker is a Southern Pride). Inside, Country Good's atmosphere is low budget but homey, with some remaining artifacts that let you know it's a converted Chinese take-out joint. Service is over-the-counter, with all meals housed in styrofoam. There's no bar and outside beverages are prohibited.
Pork ribs and beef ribs are both available, along with the standard pulled pork and brisket sandwiches. Fried chicken is a welcome addition and a clue that Country Good's style is a soul food approach to barbecue. The agreeable pricing and flexibility of sizes allow a good survey of the menu with minimal investment.
I met a friend on a Tuesday night for a barbecue meal at Country Good. Taking advantage of the 3-rib platters, we were able to share pork ribs, beef ribs, pulled pork and brisket sandwiches, six different sides and still have room for a little fried chicken.
We didn't try any appetizers as such.
Pork ribs were large, meaty spare ribs with a well defined crust that maintained its texture under a more than liberal dousing of very tomatoey sauce. These ribs, with just a hint of pink and no smoky flavor, suffered most in the texture department: they were very chewy. Equally meaty beef ribs supplied more bark, more pink coloring and more tenderness, possibly from sitting in that sauce longer. Flavor was a wash, as I didn't get much if any smoke or spice here.
The pulled pork sandwich was another example of the sauce obscuring the meat, but I did like the nice mix of bark and medium sized chunks. The low smoke quotient continued here, but the texture was good, avoiding being too tough or too mushy. The brisket sandwich had deli-thin slices that were a little rubbery. The sauce affected taste as well as texture here, providing more than enough lubrication. Both sandwiches were decent; neither sandwich was particularly generous on the meat portion.
Fried chicken was probably the most satisfying of the meats. Though light on seasoning, the batter was crisp and pleasant.
The sauce that's applied to all of the meats is a mild tomato-based variety with an ever-so-slight tang and just a hint of sweet. Seemingly serving more as a moistener than a flavor enhancer, it edged a little too close to marinara territory for my liking. There are no additional sauces on the table.
Unusual cornbread muffins were very coarse, yellower than any cornbread I've seen and much less sweet. Baked beans were fairly plain and not that much different from what you'd get out of a can. Potato salad was loose in consistency and tasted homemade, with a subtle yet effective use of interesting seasonings. Ditto the cole slaw. Mac and cheese was at the other end of the consistency spectrum, with a little egg and minimal liquidity. Fries were your ordinary everyday frozen variey. Collard greens were the best of the sides, with a medium chop, just enough condiment to keep things moist and plenty of meat for flavor.
The Bottom Line
The style is a little more soul than 'cue, but Country Good BBQ is one of the few Massachusetts BBQ joints west of I-495 that actually uses a smoker, so for that I'll give them props. It's a nice little place that I'd visit every now and then if I lived in Fitchburg, but I wouldn't travel great distances to try it again.
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