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Disappointing meal at Redbones

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Ian Sep 19, 2003 09:31 PM

Redbones is one of those institutions that many of us, myself included, hate to see anything bad posted about. There's something special about the place -- the atmosphere, the clientel, the staff, the ownership. How many other restaurants go out of their way to make sure the neighbors are happy (and well fed)?

But this board is about honest reactions to food, and, sadly, I had a really disappointing meal at Redbones earlier this week. A couple of months ago, I ate there for lunch, and had a wonderful (and cheap) catfish sandwich. I enjoyed it so much, that when I had dinner there earlier this week, I ordered it again. It was a huge disappointment. First, our food was served so fast after we ordered, I knew it could not possibly have been prepared to order. I imagine, instead, that there is a vat of fried catfish filets in the kitchen, one of which was pulled out for me. It was served warm, not hot, and, unlike my experience at lunch, was just nothing special. A dinner companion consoled me with some of her ribs, which helped make up for it, but I nonetheless felt that I had been let down by a close friend.

  1. b
    BroadwayBound Apr 17, 2009 09:13 PM

    After hearing people rave about Redbones, I finally gave in. I can't say I was wowed by the food. I think Blue Ribbon (Arlington) and Soul Fire (Allston) offer better BBQ.

    1. c
      celeriac Apr 16, 2009 10:45 AM

      Yeah, kind of goofy to respond to this 6-year-old thread, but..

      I have to stand up for their ribs as being wildly inconsistent, but not flat-out hopeless. In fact, the ribs I had there a few weeks ago were the best I've had in Boston, handily beating out Blue Ribbon where I've eaten several times. They were juicy, just a bit fatty (in a good way), nicely spiced and just tender enough. It was a huge contrast to the last time I tried their ribs, about a year ago, when they were dry as sawdust! That said, I hated the black beans and the sauces were so-so. But the slaw was nice, and the beer selection is terrific.

      3 Replies
      1. re: celeriac
        b
        bachslunch Apr 16, 2009 03:48 PM

        I've always done fine with mains (buffalo shrimp, pulled pork, pulled chicken, ribs of various kinds) at Redbones. But I'll freely admit the beans they serve as a side are consistently weak and the cole slaw can be inconsistent (their dirty rice is fine). I just ask for a cup of the sweet molasses style sauce and drown the beans (and the slaw if it's not as good) in it. Works for me.

        1. re: celeriac
          a
          afty698 Apr 17, 2009 11:47 AM

          I am usually one of those complaining about the food at Redbones; as someone who grew up in Memphis, I expect my BBQ to taste a certain way, and it usually doesn't taste that way at Redbones. But recently I've been pretty impressed with the food there. The last few times I've ordered ribs, they've been tender and flavorful. Same with some of the other items, like the chicken wings. I've been pleasantly surprised by my recent visits.

          1. re: afty698
            f
            fluffernutty Apr 17, 2009 12:31 PM

            we got a take out dinner from red bones this week and i was disappointed in the taste of pretty much everything. i usually enjoy redbones for a casual meat centric dinner. but the food really loses its charm when removed from the context of lots of people, interesting beers and wacky wall art. i fear ive been spoiled by other bbq and good meat eats around town.

        2. Suze123 Apr 16, 2009 10:03 AM

          I love the place for their beer selection and atmosphere but their BBQ just isn't that great. I mean, it's good for Somerville, so I'll still go, but I don't "crave" it like I do the BBQ we had at Interstate in Memphis. Also, I hate that they serve it with four little containers of their sauce selections, for a large group of people. They'll give you more sauce, but again, just little measly containers. What if everyone at the table wanted one kind?

          1. C. Hamster Apr 16, 2009 08:27 AM

            I also noticed the instantaneous presentation of food during my most recent visit about a month ago.

            Next time I'm going to wait for the counter no matter how long it takes.

            1. g
              GreekLady Apr 16, 2009 08:16 AM

              While visiting Boston from out of town recently, we went to Redbones for dinner because my husband had been there previously while on a business trip and he raved on and on about the food. We were sadly disappointed this time around. Like the person above, our food arrived almost instantly and was cold--obviously not freshly prepared. My pulled pork was swimming in the cold juice from the black beans that come with it, ruining the taste. The ribs were overcooked and tough to chew. The sides were bland. Does this place have a Jekyll and Hyde personality? Can it really be that hit or miss?

              1 Reply
              1. re: GreekLady
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                Parsnipity Apr 16, 2009 12:39 PM

                Yeah, although I'm clearly a Redbones lover for beer, atmosphere and fried pickles, I have to agree that the food can be sub-par. The bartending is always great, but the waitstaff have been downright rude to us on occasion. My biggest complaint with the food is as GreekLady points out the "mash-it-all-together on a tiny plate and let juices run all over the place" approach-- it just doesn't work for me.

              2. j
                johnnym Sep 22, 2003 12:08 PM

                I have only been to Redbones once, for dinner, and I really didn't like my ribs at all. I'm not a huge rib fanatic, I didn't really know what variety I would like the best, but I settled on Carolina style, if I remember correctly. I realize that I ordered a dry style of rib, but these were so dry and tough that at times they were unchewable. They seemed to have been WAY overcooked. I also found the beans and slaw to be pretty boring, frankly, which didn't help. I found the ribs much more tender and flavorful at Uncle Pete's for example.

                Should I give Redbones another chance? What type of ribs should I get? I'm afraid to go back without a plan, as I really didn't enjoy the food my first time. But so many people seem to like it....

                4 Replies
                1. re: pje1970
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                  Alex S Sep 23, 2003 01:28 PM

                  The East Coast Grill is way better for bbq than all these places - their NC style is better (if slightly less authentic) than any I had living in NC for four years, except for one place that burned down.

                  1. re: johnnym
                    Snoop37 Apr 16, 2009 09:44 AM

                    I concur, I've had their platter with so many different kinds of ribs I can't even count and all were equally dry with lackluster taste. Truly a disappointment. This was just over a month ago.

                    1. re: Snoop37
                      yumyum Apr 16, 2009 09:50 AM

                      Hm. This thread was started in 2003, but your recent experiences seem to indicate things haven't changed much. I've never liked Redbones but I know some people do.

                      1. re: yumyum
                        Snoop37 Apr 16, 2009 12:19 PM

                        haha wow. I didn't even look at the date, but let me tell you, I was not the one who brought this post back from the dead.

                  2. o
                    Osso Sep 20, 2003 03:42 PM

                    I like the place a lot, and the people there are nice. However, I've never been all that impressed by the brisket I've had at dinner, it tends to be a little tough and low on beef flavor. The ribs are also not quite there for flavor and texture; I the ones at Blue Ribbon (or the original Jake and Earl's).

                    Maybe things end up over-smoked by dinner time. Is it any better at lunch?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Osso
                      i
                      Ian Sep 21, 2003 12:51 PM

                      I was there recently for lunch, and the same catfish sandwich was fantastic. The breading is on the heavy side, but the sandwich was hot, fresh, tasty and amazingly inexpensive (and a great vehicle for hot sauce).

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