When you have a large group with a lot of different personalities coming from different parts of the country and converging on a city for a reunion of sorts (which is what led me to Boston) there are a couple ways to to find a place to have dinner. The first is to plan this out and advance, find a couple places, call and make reservations, and have everyone meet there at a designated time. The second is to scramble around, send some texts, and eventually wind up in an area hoping to find a place that had enough seating for walk ups. Guess which one we were…
After a few exchanges, it was decided that we would head out to the Kenmore/Fenway area of town and see if we could find a place. Then a couple of phone calls later, we found out that Sweet Cheeks Q had outdoor seating to accommodate a large party and we didn’t even need reservations. For me, this created a whole slew of mixed emotions. I was excited to meet Ashley’s friends and we had a place to sit down (as opposed to wandering around figuring things out). But BBQ in Boston? Of course it was a Tiffany Faison restaurant (runner-up on the first season of Top Chef…arguably the weakest of the seasons). So I was a little mixed, which got a little more mixed when I saw the Vegas-esque marquee that I can’t imagine seeing in some of the big BBQ places like Memphis, Austin, Charlotte, etc. (though I could be wrong). But I’m nothing but open-minded when it comes to food!
Before we could dive into the menu though, the hot day made ordering a drink necessary. And while it isn’t a usual drink for me, the maple bourbon was calling my name. I can’t remember what it was actually called, but I member it came out in a small mason jar with a cherry and was excellent. A little sweet, but not overly so. Not exactly a hot weather drink, so I ordered a glass of water as well. That took care of it!
Now that I had taken care of that, and everyone had settled into a nice catch up/nice to meet you style of conversation, it was time to look at the menu. It was obvious from the description that there was a place that was proud of where their food came from. From the Berkshire pork to Northern plains beef to the locally sourced vegetables, it was all about quality. Definitely a place that fit with my habits and style!
The menu was set up to be served as trays which were complete meals, or a la carte if you wanted to go that route. Looking at what a tray entailed (one meat, one hot side, one cold side) Ashley and I were inclined to split one. Then I noticed that for $8 more we could do three meats. That meant I could try the brisket and we could get chicken and ribs as well! The sides were collards and a nice farm salad featuring seasonal ingredients. After a little talking back and forth, and then a “sure what the hell” decision, we ordered two buckets of biscuits.
The excitement I had around the quality of the ingredients was dampened a bit when I bit into both the brisket and the ribs. They were actually quite bland…almost as if there was no rub on them and they erred on conservative flavors with the hopes that the diner add one of the sauces to get the flavor. And while this is fine, I prefer that my barbecue packs the flavor. The best ribs I have ever had we’re dry rubbed and smoked to perfection. No sauce needed. The best brisket was super moist, melted in your mouth, and had a perfect smoke ring around them. This brisket was a tad dry and had almost no smoke flavor to it. The ribs were cooked pretty well, but left me wanting (interestingly though they were Ashley’s favorite). Of the meats my favorite was the chicken and even that was just ok.
However, as underwhelmed as I was with the brisket and ribs, I was blown away by the biscuits. Three weeks after eating there, we are still talking about the biscuits. They were huge…big enough that half a biscuit was enough for a person. They were light and fluffy and moist and delicious. Then when you added the little bit of honey butter, there was a creamy sweetness that brought everything together so well. These biscuits stood alone, would have made an amazing biscuits and gravy base, or could have made a great sandwich. I used one to sop up every little bit of juice, sauce and dressing that was left on my plate.
We definitely had a great time hanging out outside on the benches, talking, eating biscuits and having drinks. No one opted for a dessert so i cant comment there, but most people seemed to be enjoy their meals. Not that it was bad by any means, just not anything like the Texas or Kansas City barbecue that I’ve had before. It was fun, and I would recommend giving it a shot…maybe just try the pork belly rather than the brisket and ribs. And get the biscuits (and send me one!)