Boston does barbecue

BY EUGENE MAR

Good enough for a Southerner?

Venture beyond the friendly confines of Harvard, Porter and Davis Square on Mass. Ave, and you’ll find this gem of a BBQ joint with food that really hits the spot. Blue-Ribbon Bar-B-Q prides itself on slow roasting its meats at low temperatures over oak and hickory hardwoods, and the results speak volumes about their barbeque style.

To truly test any establishment offering barbeque, you have to bring a few Southerners along to put the place to the test – especially where, as here, the restaurant promises BBQ from so many different states. I brought my three favorite Texas A&M Aggies, along with two Oklahomans to see if the food at Blue-Ribbon could meet true Southerners’ high standards.

Designed to look like a diner straight out of the days of Elvis, the brightly lit and friendly restaurant offers an assortment of meats served up as a sandwich (white bread, baked beans, cole slaw, and homemade pickles for $5.50), on a platter (choice of two sides, cornbread and pickles for $8.95), or in bulk size ($10.95 per pint). Side dishes are also available for individual purchase in the half-pint ($1.95), pint ($3.95), or quart ($6.95). In addition, they have featured specials on a chalkboard that range from salmon to desserts like key lime pie.

You can’t go wrong by ordering the North Carolina pulled pork, with its tangy BBQ sauce offering a nice blend of slight sweetness and a mix of spices. The Kansas City burnt ends are even more impressive. With the juicy Texas sliced beef brisket, Blue-Ribbon adds a heavier BBQ sauce cooked with tomatoes. The combination works perfectly.

If you’re a fan of the natural meat flavor uninhibited by any sauce, then the hot open-faced brisket sandwich is your way to go. Stacked in between two pieces of white bread is a heaping pile of juicy, flavorful brisket. The red hot smoked sausage is tasty, but its relative mildness and unspectacular sauce made it less attractive than the other offerings. Regardless of which type of meat you order, you should notice how the natural flavors of the meat are retained through the Southern roadside barbequing style.

Blue-Ribbon also features Memphis dry-rubbed barbeque ribs ($9.95 for 1/3 slab, $11.95 for _ slab, and $19.95 for full slab), barbequed half chicken ($7.95), and Jamaican jerked half ($7.95) or whole chicken ($10.95). Although I wasn’t able to sample these items on this trip, given the superb results of the other meats, one could assume that the ribs and chicken would be just as satisfying.

For the adventurous, do-it-yourself types, there are a range of BBQ sauces available at the counter to mix and match to your dining pleasure. Ranging from habanero pepper sauce to Blue-Ribbon gold BBQ sauce, finding the right combination is a virtual certainty. However, for my buck, I enjoyed the meat and sauces served up by the staff just fine without having to add anything extra.

The side dishes are nice accompaniments that do not steal the show from the barbequed meats. Both the baked beans and the black-eyed peas are a nice change of flavor from the BBQ sauce. The mashed potatoes and collard greens are normal fare – not surprising, but appealing enough. Other side dish options include cole slaw, rice and beans and green beans. For those with truly large appetites, the dessert menu does not disappoint. The sweet potato pie ($2.50) provides an ideal ending to a fulfilling meal. You could also take a gander at the pecan pie or fruit cobbler ($2.50 each).

For those looking for a change of taste (and in my mind, an upgrade) from Redbones, pay a visit to Blue-Ribbon. If you’re a champion grill master and are just looking for the perfect sauce to complement your masterpiece, then Blue-Ribbon’s various types of barbeque sauce sold by the pint ($3.95) can help you out. Blue-Ribbon is also available to cater events and would prove to be an inviting and economical way to entice lethargic law students to attend organizational meetings. [Note to organizations everywhere: Three Aces Pizza is no longer going to cut it – ed.] After all, in the words of an Oklahoman in my party: “Not bad for a Yankee.”


Getting There

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