Surprised - Soulfire Delivers, Particuarly the Baked Beans
For BBQ, consistency is everything. Making one good meal is not the same as making good 'cue day in and day out; which takes a dogged attention to detail that few cuisines require to such an extent.
That said I had a rockin' meal of pork ribs at Soufire in Allston last night. I have not eaten there in over a year. And past experiences were a bit spotty, never bad, but not Blue Ribbon good.
Last night the pork ribs, (not baby backs) my defining test for a barbecue joint, were absolutely perfect, large, meaty, with a good bark, and just the right amount of juicy fat remaining. Literally could not be improved upon.
As has been said before, their collards while kind of tasty, are sweet which is not a good thing. They need to get the sugar OUT of the collards. Again, they were edible, but not correct and would have been MUCH better without the sweetness.
The baked beans were quite frankly amazing. I asked the kitchen and they said they put bacon in their beans. They were just the right sweetness with some good smokey baconey char to them. Perhaps the best baked beans I have ever eaten. Seriously.
There is much debate about correct corn bread. I thought their rendition was good to very good. No complaints.
Cole slaw was very good to excellent as well.
And beer, they have beer. Sorry Blue Ribbon but selling beer is a big PLUS.
All in all, based on this meal I would put Soulfire back on the permanent rotation. VERY curious if others have been experiencing top notch 'cue at Soulfire as well. Cause as I said earlier, with 'cue consistency is king.
Thanks for reminding me about this -- I think that something happened sometime late last year or early this year where the BBQ at Soul Fire got noticeably better. I went every so often back in 2007 a little while after it opened -- I'd go to Harper's Ferry for concerts a lot, and SF was the area's BBQ option. But when I went back late last winter, and then again a few months ago, I found everything to be... well, very good. I agree that the beans were great, the cornbread is great, and I love the presentation with the white bread.
My only beef is that the portion size is decidedly too small. I'm not really even on the fence about it. They don't give you enough. This is the sort of place you get a meal, and if you sit there for another 20-30 minutes and have a beer or two, you start to wonder whether you should order again. That sort of bothers me, especially for a BBQ place.
But I agree. Soul Fire... they're actually kinda good.
I actually forgot to mention this in my post above. I love the fact that the portions are smaller than, say, Blue Ribbon. I know that many folks will disagree and say that more is always more, but for me it's the perfect amount and keeps me from eating too much and feeling overstuffed. And I'm not a tiny guy or anything.
Well yes but...
The 1/2 rack of ribs was BIG. Seriously two of us (not huge meat eaters) split it with two ribs leftover.
The sides were dinky. But HUGE additional sides were $1.99, super cheap.
Two of us had the 1/2 rack platter with slaw and beans and an extra side of collards then ordered and extra side of beans later.
For roughly $27 (2 beers, one cheapo Narragansett) we were stuffed with leftovers, I mean seriously. Can't beat that.
I could have sworn I wrote a post about my great experiences at Soulfire over the past 6 months, but now I can't find it. Well:
I've had GREAT experiences at Soulfire over the past 6 months!
Admittedly I've only been there 3 times, but each has been a winner. I had their brisket twice and pulled pork once, and I've liked every meal better than any meal I've had at Blue Ribbon. Each time the brisket had a nice texture, firm enough to be toothsome without being tough in the slightest, and a nice almost bacon-like rim of fat. And perfect smoke flavor. I just had the pulled pork and was quite happy. Plenty of bark, big chunks with varying texture and again, great smoke level. I would say that both could have been a touch moister, but nothing to moan about.
And, while I understand your position on tradition, I think their collards are very good. Not traditional, i agree, but delicious nonetheless with a pleasantly rich/sweet/tangy flavor and perfect tenderness. Yum. I'll be sure to try the beans next.
Thus far I've tried Blue Ribbon, Soulfire and Redbones several times each, and Soulfire is the hands down winner.
55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144
Soul Fire BBQ
182 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134
Anyone know how their ribs compare to Mrs. Jones'? I had a killer lunch there last weekend. The ribs were the best I've tried in Boston (haven't been to Soulfire yet) - meaty, with an addictively tangy sauce. The baked Virginia ham (Sat. only) and sides (candied yams, collards, green beans, cabbage) were fantastic too.
Soul Fire BBQ
182 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134
I have been quite happy with Soulfire on repeated visits. In addition to the "q", they have good fried chicken - cooked to order, takes 20 minutes - a bit greasy but very tasty with a good crunch factor. I actually think their sides equal or surpass Blue Ribbon's. The beans are fantastic. I actually love their collards - yes a bit sweet, but very smoky too with big chunks of burnt ends mixed in. Beer is a definite plus, and I like the vibe of the room and the people who work there.
Good to know that SF can deliver the goods on a regular basis.
I will say I prefer Blue Ribbon's collards and I am crazy for BR's black eyed corn and the pozole. BR's desserts are also truly awesome.
That said, based on the 'cue and the beans I will be back to SF. Go figure, Boston, MA town of respectable barbecue...
I have only gone once - it was during the summer - and sampled all of the meat. I thought the ribs were the best of the lot - reminded me of the ribs you used to get at the Arlington Blue Ribbon a few years ago. Big and meaty, smoky, somewhat fatty, and juicy as heck, but just a little tough where you could not pull some of the meat off the bone. I was happy with the other meats too which was on par with or slightly better than other bbq spots in the area, but there seemed to be potential for them to be great too depending on the day or plate. I will definitely be back - unfortunately my bbq days are few and far between lately.
I'm a big beer guy, but to me beer isn't as much of a requirement for bbq than slow smoke is.