Little Red Smokehouse reopened in December 2010 after a 2-year hiatus. The ownership has changed, the pitmaster is the same and the menu has expanded more than threefold. I'm looking forward to revisiting for an updated review.
Southeast Massachusetts is cranberry country, and Little Red Smokehouse on Route 105 looks right at home. Cranberry is the main ingredient in one of the sauces, and framed cranberry labels form the backbone of the décor. The combination of dim lighting, a chalkboard menu, candles and indoor shingles makes Little Red Smokehouse respectable and casual at the same time. There is a small bar area with stools. Four flat panel TVs are scattered around the room.
The menu at Little Red Smokehouse includes all the barbecue staples, with two kinds of pork ribs (babybacks and St Louis), pulled pork, brisket and chicken. They also have smoked turkey. The lengthy appetizers list includes wings, quesadillas, potato skins with smoked meats and two kinds of chili (beef and pork black bean chili and Santa Fe smoked turkey green chili). There are also some Southern treats like fried green tomatoes and hush puppies, as well as Cajun items like fried catfish.
Fried green tomatoes ($3.95) were prepared just the way I like them: slightly tart, thick of slice and thin of batter, served with a mildly spicy red pepper remoulade. I’d have to rank these among the best fried green tomatoes I’ve had. They could have used a bit more seasoning, but I got that (and then some) in some of the dishes that followed. Mandy’s Smokey Treats ($6.95), a deep-fried smoked cheddar appetizer with a horseradish dipping sauce, were like a smoky version of mozzarella sticks, without the tomato sauce. Good, but a little too salty.
For my entrée, I tried the 3-meat combo with ribs, brisket and pulled pork ($21.90). The meaty ribs showed good retraction from the bone, a nice bark outside and pink, tender meat inside. They were moist and smoky but also had a slightly gamey flavor and a lot of salt. Pulled pork was tender, with less bark and a flavor vaguely reminiscent of turkey stuffing. Brisket was very smoky and tender, with a decent flavor and a nice contrast in textures between the crispy outside and juicy inside. Overall, the meats were pretty good, just flavored a little different from tradition, and that's not a bad thing. I liked the way they served the meats unsauced, but drizzled an arc of sauce around the outside of the plate.
Sauces included honey (typical sweet brown BBQ sauce), a nice cranberry (sweet but not tart) and Carolina (sweet mustard). All had a smooth consistency that reminded me of the sauces at Famous Dave’s. Flavors were good.
Sides were average. Cole slaw and baked beans were pretty basic and not too different from what you’d get at a supermarket. Collard greens were finely chopped with some other vegetables thrown in. Onion rings were crisp and had a much thicker batter than the fried green tomatoes.
Fried catfish ($13.95) was perfectly cooked but had an even thicker batter, with a lot of salt.
The bottom line: a mixed bag with promise. We enjoyed the appetizers more than the entrées. The barbecue was real, different and at least good enough to try again. I'm looking forward to trying the two chilis.