The Spoon BBQ truck is your typical food truck operation, with a single window for ordering and a narrow ledge for napkins, plastic cutlery and sauces.
Spoon parlays three core meats into a deep menu by food truck standards, offering smoked spare ribs, a smoked chicken salad sandwich, pulled pork and pulled chicken sandwiches, pulled pork and pulled chicken barbecue bowls, pulled pork and pulled chicken tacos and a handful of sides.
I checked out Spoon for two different visits on the same afternoon at a food truck festival in Framingham MA. To expedite line movement, two greeters standing outside the truck took orders deep into the line and coordinated communication with the inside counter person. It was a little confusing, but personal and effective.
Although several of the items off the Spoon menu can be treated as appetizers, there are no appetizers as such.
Pulled pork sandwich: Served in a fresh, powdery bulkie roll much softer than standard, the pulled pork sandwich presented a cornucopia of Cole slaw and pork shreds spilling out into the boat, requiring much of it to be eaten by fork. The peppery slaw did a nice job adding texture, moisture and flavor. The pork itself looked a little pale, had a chickeny consistency and not so much porky flavor (it tasted a little pale too), but the superior bun, moderate smokiness and overall sandwich design produced minor success.
The "Walter" smoked chicken sandwich: A northern Alabama white sauce chicken sandwich ($7) sounded tempting, especially with the horseradish mayo sauce. It turned out to be less of a sauce and more of a standard mayo with not all that much horseradish. The sandwich was still satisfying with large chunks of minimally smoky meat, seemingly all white meat. Moistness was tough to gauge: the chicken was neither moist nor dry, but whether you want to call it sauce or mayo, I found myself frequently wishing there were more of it. A couple of pickles helped the sandwich along, but something was missing. Although a nice sandwich in its own right, it didn't strike me as very "barbecue."
BBQ Bowl: Jokingly referred to by one of the proprietors as a "barbecue salad"—and by the ghost of Oscar Madison as "goop melange"—the bowl combines a selectable barbecue meat with layers of baked beans and collars greens in a pint container, topped with a pair of hushpuppies. I chose pork and I'm glad I did, because it was of much higher caliber here than in the sandwich ordered about an hour earlier. The meat was fresher, bouncier, pinker, porkier and smokier. This variation of the barbecue sundae offered at various barbecue joints around New England is most appropriate in the food truck setting, because it supplies three of the four food groups in a single easily manageable container.
Ribs: Conveniently priced at $2 per bone, the ribs can be treated as a small plate, side dish or main event. In my two trips to the truck I grabbed two ribs each time—sauced on the first trip, unsauced on the second. These are long, full cut spares that fully lived up to the "slow smoked, off the bone tender" description. The sauced first batch had a thick, bumpy crust that stood out even under the sauce. When I lifted one of the bones out of the boat, the meat fell apart, but wasn't mushy. Extremely pink and far smokier than the rest of the offertings I tried, these ribs brought a strong porkiness and a good contrast between the crisp exterior and wilting interior. Moistness was high, as was fattiness (in a good way). The second round of ribs bore no additional sauce but had a crisp, sticky surface from what I'm guessing were repeated bastings during the cooking process. Flavor was again pleasant, with the same porky and smoky contributions but low rub presence. Though well past what I consider ideal, the high tenderness/ doneness was a stylistic choice executed as intended and in a way that never came across as boiled or steamy, so it wasn't a showstopper for me and will probably be a strong suit for most customers. Overall, these ribs were enjoyable with or without the sauce.
Two sauces are available in squeeze bottles. The Spoon sauce is a thin, peppery, spicy sauce with a little sweetness and a little sourness. The Lexington sauce—oddly named, because it's very different from vinegar sauces found in Lexington NC—is the flipside of the Spoon: thicker, sticky sweet and very sour, with hints of pepper and heat. Both sauces taste homemade, and I liked both. The Lexington sauce would be perfect for chicken nuggets.
Hushpuppies: Fried to a golden brown to yield a half dozen hot, crispy cornbread munchkins, the hushpuppies suffered from dry texture, lack of dipping sauce and only a minimal amount of the promised bacon and scallion bits.
Baked beans: Initially these seemed to be a kicked-up canned variety, but after a few forkfuls I began to appreciate the kicked-down sweetness, the welcome smokiness and the bounty of smoked meat scraps.
Collards: Sampled only in the BBQ Bowl, the collards had a midsized chop and just the right texture, cooked only slightly past wilting. Because the bowl by design is loaded with meat (I chose the pulled pork) and beans, I have no insight as to meat inclusion or condiment, but the collards contribution in that dish was very positive.
The Bottom Line
There were some ups and downs, but more ups than downs at Spoon. It's the
flavorful ribs that set them apart from other barbecue trucks.
Yelp reviews of Spoon
Urbanspoon reviews of Spoon