Wicked Awesome BBQ is a seasonal outdoor barbecue joint located adjacent to the Irving gas station and Huggett's Mini Mart (that sells beer, by the way) on Route 5. The smoker and assorted cooking apparatus are in plain view; final prep is handled inside a nice looking shed that's more of a mini house. Picnic tables (one adult size and one kid size) provide a sunny dining area. Owner David McInnis is a chef with decades of experience under his belt, including stints in Boston.
The ribs are babybacks, the pork is pulled, the chicken is legs and the
beef is steak tips, at least on the Wicked Awesome Sampler (with those last two items a little different from their online menu descriptions). Oddly, sandwiches are not listed on the menu. You
can get any of the meats on its own platter, as a 2-meat combo or as a
4-meat Wicked Sampler. There's also Italian sausage, plus burgers and dogs for the kids.
With decades of barbecue eating under my belt (literally, I'm afraid), I visited Wicked Awesome for a mid-afternoon snack with a few barbecue buddies.
Wings: We didn't try anything resembling an appetizer, though I suppose the steak tips in the combo might qualify.
Chicken: Three meaty legs on the Wicked Sampler took dark meat to a new level with a chestnut hue and skin cracking open after a slow smoke. The surface had decent crunch and maybe a tiny bit of sauce basted in down the stretch, along with some good moisture all the way down to the bone. The flavor? Strangely clammy. That's right, I said clammy. Like clams at low tide clammy, with a little bit of a chitlin' feel. I've never tasted any chicken like this, and that's not a compliment. One other tablemate agreed with the clammy comparison; another just thought the flavor was odd. Smoke made a brief appearance too, but that clamminess stood front and center. I'd like to give these another shot, because if the few good qualities weren't undone by the one non-trivial and really glaring bad one, this could be good chicken. But make no mistake about it, this was pretty bad.
Steak tips: These appeared to be well marinated and grilled with some possible basting during cooking as well, but left unsauced by request. The meat had a modest crust and decent tenderness cookingwise, but I found it a little too chewy based on the cut. This item didn't really elicit any strong opinions pro or con from the rest of the table.
Pulled pork: This item elicited many strong opinions, and they were unanimous that this pork was excruciatingly dry and not the least bit flavorful. Either it was designed to be sauced and fell short because we requested otherwise, or this pork was just plain dry, even when dunked into the sauce on the side. Speaking of plain, it was just that. Drab gray, with not a lot of rub, bark, smoke or even color going on, which was surprising since it's an outdoor smoker fired with actual wood. No redeeming qualities here.
Ribs: Okay, first thing I gotta say is that these babybacks were at the other end of the spectrum from the pork in terms of bark and hue. The thick meat had a beautiful layer of dark, unburnt crustage running all across the top, and some glorious outer color too. I got to sample only one of these ribs, and the way they tore, mine didn't have as much bark as most of the others. Maybe that's why I didn't get that much flavor from deeper down toward the bone, but I suspect there just wasn't much flavor to be had. Again, not much smoke or rub penetration. I did like the uniform moistness of the meat, which pulled very easily off the bone—some might argue too easily, but different strokes for different folks. My rib was bland, but this item probably was the best of the meats.
Tomatoey and sweet with about-average thickness. It wasn't enough to save the pork and wasn't really necessary (at least moisturewise) on the other meats.
Cole slaw: I saved this for last, using it as a creamy-zesty-tangy palate cleanser. It had a nice mix of creaminess and seasonings, with just a little crunch left. Definitely a very good slaw that was homestyle with a kick.
Baked beans: Also very good, the beans might have been the best item of the meal and a hint of what the pork could taste like with a little tenderness and flavor. The slightly firm beans had some chile pepper tingle in the savory treatment with just a hint of sweet, some oniony essence and much more than a hint of pulled pork. A larger portion of it could make a nice little lunch.
Mac and cheese: A neon orange color shining through the lid before we opened it had us fearing the worst, but this turned out to be a decent mac and cheese. The noodles weren't soggy, the cheese had some flavor and the orange was some unknown condiment (like a Russian dressing) that added another layer of flavor on top of that. Unusual, and I'm not sure what to make of it, but what would you expect from a barbecue joint whose chicken tasted like clams?
Check out the review below from Offbeat Eats. Its photos show a lot more promise, so I'm holding out hope.
Kudos to Chef McInnis for his Feed A Family program that reaches out to local families in need with gift certificates for barbecue.
The Bottom Line
For Wicked Awesome BBQ, one of the following is true: either I just happened to pick the wrong day or they just happened to pick the wrong name. I'm keeping an open mind, but I have my suspicions.
Offbeat Eats review of Wicked Awesome BBQ
Yelp reviews of Wicked Awesome BBQ
Urbanspoon reviews of Wicked Awesome BBQ
||'Like' PigTrip BBQ Reviews on Facebook to keep up with all of the reviews and much more content not available on the site.