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Jun 10, 2003 08:24 PM

Clem's BBQ outside State College (port matilda) - Looks Good - anyone been?

  • d

We are on our way back from Bedford to NY in the morning, and are considering an hour detour to eat some BBQ.

Last year, we drove by during fair time, and Clem was out to the fair, but we had the chance to scope out his operation.

It looked GOOD. Scary good. And so I'm hoping someone has been to give us some details. If not before our trip in the morning, sometime later, because we no doubt will return.

If you haven't been, allow me to whet your whistle. From all appearances (Crazy) Clem appears to work INSIDE the pit. He has a ton of hardwood stacked outside, and a rack system over a fire pit. The pit is enclosed by a tent, which has "windows" that are a delicious smoky brown.

His wife apparently left him (I can't imagine why - since presumably he came home smelling of sweet bbq every night!) and runs another Clem's (on route 22?) between Johnstown and Pittsburgh.

If you have been, I am interested in a few things:

Overall preferences of meat - ribs/links/shoulder pull
Impressions of smoke ring (penetration of the smoke)
Style and quality of the sauce
Sides - especially slaw, and
Overall performance

This has all the trappings of a great BBQ pit, and if I don't hear from any of y'all, I will repost upon our return to San Francisco.

Thanks in advance for the guidance.

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  1. I've stopped there twice, I agree it is a head-turner as you drive by.

    Unfortunately both times it was mediocre to poor. The first time I tried a chicken leg quarter, it was served out of a steam-table pan. The meat was stringy and soggy like it was stewed and way overcooked, no smoke flavor at all.

    The second time I got a pulled pork sandwich, the meat had an odd gamy flavor with again no smoke character.

    My recollection is it's not a true smoker/pit operation, the meat is simply grilled over a wood fire. It then goes into a steam tray where it stews until served.

    Sorry to be so negative but that's my experience. On the plus side they do have a very good bbq sauce and an impressive collection of hot sauces you can use.

    1. t
      Tasty Vittles

      Been to clems several times, I cant drive by that place without picking up a rack of ribs or three. Admittedly the pulled pork can be hit or miss, and Ive never tried the chicken, but I never had a reason to. Clems is ALL about the RIBS, youll be hard pressed to find better ribs anywhere IMHO, I love em.

      1. There are places in the country where they would drag you behind a pickup truck just for calling this garbage BBQ.
        The signs say "Real BBQ"..which is blatant false advertisement.
        The truth is, the ribs are boiled in water and liquid smoke, then thrown on a GRILL(*) until it has char marks, then thrown in a vat of cheap tasteless sauce where it simmers FAR BEYOND the point of OVERCOOKED.
        Contrary to popular belief, rib meat is not supposed to FALL off the bone. The entire reason for slow smoking is to make the connective tissue of the meat transform into a succulent geletain. The meat should PULL from the bone with a slight resistance.
        Rib meat "falls off the bone" when that geletain is cooked out, due to improper temperature and cooking methods.
        You don't have to drown ribs in sauce if they are cooked properly. People drown ribs in sauce to hide the fact that they cannot cook ribs.
        I made the mistake of stopping there once. I paid about $10 for ribs, and what I got was a styrofoam container of bones and chunks of overcooked rib meat drowned in what appeared to be Cattleman's BBQ sauce. There was no smoke flavor because the ribs were NEVER SMOKED.
        I would have fed the whole mess to my dogs, but I happen to LIKE my dogs...and besides, my dogs are too smart to think this is "REAL BBQ." They've had real BBQ.
        You could only pass this off as BBQ in the North.

        BBQ=slow indirect heat and smoke.
        GRILLING= placing meat directly over fire.
        Clems uses a GRILL pit..not a BBQ pit.

        1 Reply
        1. re: BadWolf

          These ribs are for people who don't like ribs, but absolutely LOVE the flavor of cheap discount club BBQ sauce. Why you'd want to waste the money on the ribs is beyond me, when you can just drink red sauce from the bottle and get the exact flavor, and nearly the same texture. (aside from the bones)
          It's a shame to see a man waste so much pork and firewood.

          BBQ implies the cooking method. Please stop calling this boiled/grilled/steamed junk BBQ!

        2. go downtown in state college to beluahs on garner street next to the lion's den. great smoke house bbq restaurant. lots of choices and better than clems.

          3 Replies
          1. re: hipster

            The "pork BBQ" they sell at Sheets is as good as Clems.

            1. re: BadWolf

              I hope they don't drag Clem behind a pick-up, who would cook the ribs? I know what I like and I like Clem's BBQ.

              1. re: DrinkandEat

                It is fine to like their food. I can't personally understand it, but I will accept it. I take issue with calling it BBQ. It is not BBQ and should not be advertised as such.
                I like to get what I am told I am paying for.
                I don't like being told I am getting crab legs, and end up with a plate of that rubbery fake stuff made from various processed junk fish.
                Nor do I like to be told I am buying BBQ and end up with a styrofoam container of boiled, grilled, and steamed mush and bones drowned in sauce.
                Just call it what it is.