Last Wednesday night, February 1st, the New England Barbecue Society held a "Barbecue Road Trip" to Uncle Pete’s Hickory Ribs in Revere, MA. It was the first road trip that NEBS organized in quite a while, and it was good to hang out with my BBQ brethren and eat some ‘que.
Of course, the only reason you’re really reading this is to find out what the food was like, so here you go:
Pork Ribs – Traditional pork spareribs prepared well, but not spectacular. Good flavor and tenderness was good – not fall-off-the-bone mushy like you get in chain restaurants, but I also had a surprising amount of fat on some of mine even though some of the end pieces were a little dried out.
Beef Ribs – Possibly the BBQ star of the evening. I’m not a huge beef rib fan – even the best beef rib isn’t as good as a good ‘ol steak or a pork rib in my own humble opinion, but I had two beef ribs and both were meaty, tender (for a beef rib) and had good flavor. There were a few bites on the upper part of the ribs where the meat is more marbled that were excellent and would make the whole rib worth it in itself.
Chicken Wings – Ok, these weren’t barbecued, but I loved them. They were fried and tossed in this spicy sweet-and-sour sauce that had a nice hot kick but was also sweet. Love to try that smeared on some true barbecued chicken! If I found myself in the area, I’d go back just for these wings.
Brisket – I don’t know what got into me, but based on a dining companion’s advice, I didn’t even bother with the brisket. I’m fan of thick-cut or chopped brisket, not the thinly sliced brisket that was being served.
Steak Tips – I think that’s what these were (that’s the problem with a buffet)… they were good, though not really barbecued – just grilled, so I tried one and moved on. However, they were meaty and tender with good flavor. I thought I heard someone say something about it being chopped brisket, but it didn’t strike me as that. (great.. mystery meat…)
Pulled Pork – Good flavor but dried out without doctoring up. I have a higher tolerance for a tough bark (the charred outside of a pork butt) since chewing longer means more flavor (is that as gross as I think it sounds?), so I thought this was better than some did. I also prefer pulled pork over chopped pork (chopped is too much like cat or dog food in my opinion) so it got an extra point from me on that count. However, I also slathered mine with Uncle Pete’s barbecue sauce, which I really liked, and helped to make the pork much more moist and taste better than it did on its own.
Sauces – There were two sauces, one thinner and more vinegary, and the other a more traditional thick red sauce. I found both to be well prepared and more interesting than the usual stuff you’ll find in some restaurants.
Sides – Sorry folks… I know some people consider this heresy since they think that barbecue also includes the beans and mashed potatoes and corn bread, but I didn’t try them. I was there for the meat! However, they did pass around some fresh-cut fries and home made onion rings, both of which I did try and thought they were really good.
Overall, I would give the place three out of five stars, if I did such things. Definitely worth going to if you’re nearby (and maybe its better when not served buffet-style) and craving BBQ, but not necessarily worth going out of your way for.
I’d like to see the next NEBS Road Trip go to the new LJ’s Barbecue, which is moving to a new, bigger, and better location on the Providence/Pawtucket line. Maybe some of the Massachusetts folks would be willing to take the trek down to check out the Lil’ Rhody barbecue scene.