Chowder may be talking turkey a lot these days, but one meat is our always-and-forever, and that’s pork. And while we’re all about the booming “snout to tail” movement, which puts everything from guanciale (smoked pig cheeks) and boudin blanc (an intestinal-looking pork sausage) to whole suckling pig on local menus, our first love is a big, honkin’ plate of falling-apart ribs.
Alas, this is New England, not Dixie. And while we’re blessed with a couple of standouts (Blue Ribbon, the Best of Boston winner, Redbones, and Poppa B’s), the pickings are still pretty slim. So I’m always stoked (sorry) when a new pit-smoked BBQ joint comes to town, and on Saturday night I finally made my way back over to Washington Square’s Roadhouse.
I was smitten at first sight—and at first whiff. Plates piled high with crispy catfish and pulled pork were being devoured at the bars. (With an impressive 40 beers on draft, half are pulled at one large bar by the entrance, the rest at the larger dining room’s taps.)
The beer selection, sadly, outshined the barbecue. A rack of pork ribs had no detectable smoke flavor, but did have gobs of unmelted white fat, and arrived soaking wet. A drizzle of sweet, fruity barbecue sauce helped, but another hour in the smoker would have done wonders.
The tender beef brisket fared much better, with a nice pink smoke ring around the edges of the thin-sliced meat. For sides, we liked the cactus salad—like roasted red peppers in texture, the sliced cactus paddle was dressed in a limey, spicy, salty vinaigrette—but couldn’t stomach the tasteless collards, crumbly cornbread, or gloppy sweet potato salad.
My guess is that the kitchen was having trouble keeping up—the place was packed, after all. True, they’re new, so they’re probably still getting up to speed. But if there’s one cardinal rule of barbecue, it’s that you can’t rush perfection. We’ll give ’em another few months to work out the kinks—and hope that they give their pork a little more time in the pit.
Roadhouse Craft Beer & BBQ, 1700 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-487-4289.