About halfway between Boston and Cape Cod, True Blue BBQ is set up at Kingston Nursery on route 53, just off routes 3A and 3. It's a trailer, where you order at the window and take your food home or to one of the umbrella-shaded picnic tables. If you order a drink, you fish the bottle out of an Igloo cooler. Off to the side of the trailer, you can see the Oklahoma style smoker, which they use to cook the meats as well as keep them warm. You can also take your order into the more scenic Kingston Nursery grounds, where you’ll enjoy the colorful plants and lawn sculptures.
The menu at True Blue BBQ is limited to one kind of rib (babybacks), pulled pork, barbecued chicken and sausage. Pulled pork is available “in a box” or on a full sized or mini sandwich. There are about a half dozen sides, most of which are light and fairly healthy.
On a 2006 weeknight visit, I tried the "Samplah" combo that featured 2 ribs, a mini pulled pork sandwich, a sausage and two sides. The babyback ribs looked good at first glance, with a lot of rub and bark. But they weren't too big on size, heat, moistness, tenderness or flavor. The pulled pork sandwich also looked pretty good, with an attractive egg-washed mini roll, and a little cole slaw on top of the meat. The meat was also barely above room temperature and a little dry. The flavor was pleasing, if mild. The sausage was flavorful and perfectly cooked.
In 2007, I returned for a follow-up visit. This season, according to the True Blue BBQ website and signage, the ribs and chicken are scheduled to be ready at 4:30PM, and this made a difference. The well-rubbed babybacks showed a lot more moistness and were as tender as you can get without falling off the bone. A pulled pork mini, this time served on a fresh potato roll, was also much warmer and moister than last year.
I tried four different sides over the two visits. Sweet potato salad had scallions, pecans and cranberries and little to no condiment. Cole slaw was pretty basic, also lacking condiment. Onions and cukes had a good sprinkling of dill and a nice flavor. Baked beans had three different types of bean and an interesting sauce that was a little spicy and a little tart. These were very good. The cornbread, billed as "My Sister's Recipe", tasted more like my mother's recipe, and my mother uses Jiffy instant muffin mix.
Sauces included Northern (sweet and chunky tomato-based) and Southern (ketchupy thick vinegar tomato-based) and both were OK. They have a few bottled hot sauces too.
True Blue's business was not all that brisk during my first visit, which might explain the dryness of the meats that day. On my second visit, they were more established, with a light but steady stream of customers, many of them regulars who engaged in lengthy conversation with the owner. This translated to fresher, more tender meats. Most of the business is take out, with whole slabs or ribs and whole chickens the main sellers.
Overall, the meats were decent, although I’d like to see more crispy bark on the pork and a spicier, smokier flavor across the board. It strikes me as a healthier (or as the “admitted health nut” owner would say, “more gentrified”) type of barbecue, without the intensity of spice or heaviness of smoke and fat that I normally associate with kick-ass barbecue.
The bottom line: This is a kinder, gentler form of barbecue that’s geared more for take-out than eating there. It’s not what I’d call heavy duty, full flavored ‘cue, but if you’re in the right mood, you can eat it and still respect yourself in the morning.