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Jun 30, 2009 09:27 AM

PG BBQ Beach Party this weekend

On Sunday we went to Suffolk Downs to check out the BBQ Beach Party this weekend.

Last year my wife and I stopped off briefly and tried one vendor (Johnson's BBQ) and enjoyed both the pulled Pork, Cornbread and Ribs from his booth. This year we decided to try out a few of the others expecting at least the same quality, but were severely disappointed.

Jack's Down Home BBQ: I had the Brisket Sandwich and my wife the Pulled Pork. The Pulled Pork was disgustingly fatty and the sauce very watery and flavorless. My Brisket was slightly better, but very average overall.

Porky and Beans: We ordered a half Rack of Ribs. The Ribs were soft and fall of the bone, but really did not have any hint of a smoked flavor at all. The sauce once again was very poor and had a very unusual flavor that is difficult to describe.

Willingham's: So after the first two let downs we ended off at Willmingham's because of all the fan fare behind their dry rubbed BBQ. Well they actually turned out to be the worst of them all. Ribs were dry, over seasoned, not smoky enough and unbearingly salty. If this is the "best of the best" then this event is honestly a joke.

So after all this I believe this will be our last year attending. I will just stick to my go-to place which we really enjoy (Blue Ribbon BBQ) and our trips down south to fulfill our BBQ cravings.

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  1. I haven't heard other detailed reports on this year's BBQ Beach Party, but the snippets I've come across sounded like an improvement (in organization, at least) on past Andelman-pimped events. I'm never surprised to hear these things are, well, Phantom Gourmet-y (i.e., cheesy, a little too sponsor-friendly, emphasizing quantity over quality), but a few folks I know said there were some bright spots, a couple of good rib purveyors. Would love to get more reports.

    7 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      Organization wise it was alot better than last year. The crowds did not seem overbearing and each line was set up in a way that you did not have to wait as long as last year to order your food, so that was a plus. Food wise though, I was very let down from what I tried.

      1. re: MC Slim JB

        Gary at (a great resource for BBQ info in the Northeast IMO) posted the following review and food pictures of the 2009 PG BBQ party at Foxwoods, same vendors.

        I cant think of anything PG without thinking of your Occam's Razor-citing PG diatribe from a few years ago! The recent one posted to your blog was hilarious.

        1. re: PaulB

          That pigtrip blog is cool, Chowish, informative: well worth reading. I'm hoping he gets as detailed in his reactions to this year's Phantom BBQ thing as 2008's, which was pretty detailed and seemed very balanced, Phantom-tolerant.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Thanks for the kind words-- is my site. I haven't gotten around to updating the vendor-by-vendor details yet because I had hoped to visit the Boston leg last weekend but could not make it. But my 6/29 post on takes Phantom's Dave Andelman to task for a moronic rhetorical question he posed on the Phantom BBQ Beach Party preview (read: infomercial) show.

            I don't think the event has improved so much as the crowds from 1 to 2 years ago have dwindled due to a combination of bad weather and bad past experiences. The event still needs to employ the Fast Pass system used by NYC's BBQ Block Party, along with a few other features. As for the vendors, they are clearly NOT "the best BBQ pitmasters on the planet" as the Andelmans frequently claim. I declined to name names, but there are some vendors that have championship pedigree (at various levels) and some that are simply carnival acts that set up week to week-- I think it's fairly easy to tell them apart.

            As for the food I had in Foxwoods:

            Willingham's (ribs): smoky, nice crust, heavy on the seasoning, a little dry. A noriceable drop off in quality from last year but still good.

            Jack's Down Home (ribs, pulled pork): the rib was the most beautiful looking of the day and had a perfectly moist texture, but had a funky off flavor. Pulled pork had the consistency of dry cat food, with little flavor. This was a huge drop off from my previous experiences with Jack McDavid's pork.

            Awesome Aussie (ribs, pulled pork): sweet sweet ribs tasted like the meat equivalent of strawberry shortcake. If that's what you like, you may love 'em, but I thought they were odd, if pleasantly unique. Pulled pork was very similar in sweetness, but i liked the large chunks and tender texture. Cole slaw was also very unusual, like a tropical fruit cocktail with cabbage.

            Firefly's (ribs, clams): I really like the idea of clams, and they were lightly battered and cooked perfectly. Ribs were decent-- big on flavor, not as moist as they have been in the past but pretty good.

            Cowboy's (ribs, brisket): Brisket looked like pork and was very dry for the second straight year. dry ribs were drowning in sauce.

            Texas Thunder (ribs): Fairly competent, nice crust with a light, coated-in glaze, a little dry but passable.

            (I skipped Johnson's and Porky & Beans because their 'cue was abysmal from last year's event.


            Overall, more "okay" plates than duds, but nothing close to a standout.


            1. re: GaryLovesFood

              Gary, that looks like a great blog! I haven't had time to peruse it all, so can you tell us in your opinion what are the one or two best BBQ joints in the Boston area?

                1. re: GaryLovesFood

                  Like BR, will have to try SoulFire...

      2. We went on Friday around 5:00 or so and there were no lines at all--the place was nearly empty. It was perfect, as we went to 5 spots with no waits and got out of there around 6:30. It was a lot more spacious than City Hall Plaza and the free parking nearby was definitely a good thing. I know a lot of people aren't thrilled by the PG, but it really was a good time.

        11 Replies
        1. re: hiddenboston

          Last year we went on a Thurs. after work and there were no lines, it was pretty mellow. Food was fine. Lines were terrible on a hot Sat. the year before and probably last year too but I had learned my lesson. Food was okay. It's not worth going to Suffolk Downs for me but I don't think it's a fiasco on weeknights.

          1. re: hiddenboston

            Will never, ever, ever go to another PG event. I can barely get past the insipidness and hyperbole (let alone the outright lies) that the TV show oozes. The overhyped and overpriced events have always left me feeling violated.

            1. re: AHan

              There is little to no doubt in my mind that the Andelman brothers moved the event from city hall to Eastie and CT in order to save a quick buck. It wasn't about making it more accessible to fan, it was about saving money. This event had zero to no appeal to me after it was moved from the city. When it was in City Hall it had a cool vibe to it b/c nothing like that ever happens in the city. As far as I'm concerned the Andelmans can go hoard their money and eat all that left over BBQ themselves.

              1. re: NahantNative

                Is it really surprising esp. in this day and age that someone would want to save money? I end up sounding like their biggest fan which I'm not and I probably would have stopped by had it been at City Hall, but can understand them not wanting to shell out way more money than they'd have to. Sheesh, it only makes sense.

                1. re: Joanie

                  I'm sure Dave and Dan are really living in poverty. Get real, the only reason they moved was to increase their profit margin on the event.

                  1. re: NahantNative

                    And we should care about that because...?

                    [Never mind, I can answer my own question: because it gives us an excuse to slam them and demonstrate that we are so much chowier than others.]

                    1. re: NahantNative

                      I think most people here would agree that the reason the Andelmans do what they do is not driven by charitable impulses. They're businesspeople, and pretty successful ones, from what I can see.

                      And while I'm all for events with urban flavor, I rate Government Center as one of the least appealing venues for this sort of thing in Boston, and it clearly did not provide enough elbow room for that event. By every account I've read, the move to Suffolk Downs made this event better. Sounds like they could still stand to get better vendors, though.


                      1. re: NahantNative

                        They are running a business and promoting a brand, so I have no problem with them increasing their profit margin and watching the bottom line.

                        The problem I have is the ridiculously mediocre BBQ this year, this is at least partially a food event after all. I even took home a couple Ribs from Willingham's and didn't even end up eating them...something I would never do with good Cue!

                        1. re: NahantNative

                          I'm no fan of these guys, but really - why would you expect them to *not* try to increase their profit margin? They're not doing all of this out of the kindness of their heart. Do you go up to your boss and say, "Yah know boss, I'll tell ya what, how bouts you pay me 50% of my normal wage today"?

                    2. re: AHan

                      I have to say- I cannot understand the appeal of any of their events. Every time I hear about one I shudder at the thought of it. Maybe its just me- but too few of the "vendors" that they bring in are good enough to make the crowds, hoopla, and general annoyance bearable...

                      1. re: fmcoxe6188

                        Nope it's not you, I can't stand those idiots, they charge you an admission to get in, the vendors charge full retail and you get to wait, not worth my time or money. I would consider a function if there was a charity involved but, the only charity I see is in their pockets.