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Oct 4, 2010 12:48 PM

Cool little find, very chowish, great food: Fat Frank's BBQ at the Whistle in Ardsley

Did the right thing and stopped at the tiny little cafe in the Ardsley train station - The Whistle. We were just driving by but the two wind-blown balloons tied by the door and the small smoker set up in the parking lot had the look of something homey and handmade.

Turns out that The Whistle itself is closed on weekends, but the space has just started hosting Fat Frank's BBQ on Saturdays and Sundays. Those two balloons were the markers of a modest Grand Opening. The proprietors are a very sweet couple (I assume the man is Fat Frank himself) who I imagine had a conversation at some point where she said, "You know, your barbecue is really good - good enough to open a restaurant," and he said, "I don't's too risky." And she won, which is a good thing.

We had a brisket sandwich, mac'n'cheese, coleslaw and a little cupful of the pulled pork, just to taste it. All were outstanding. The brisket was smoky and juicy and savory - just sweet enough but vastly more interesting than the average. Pork was a little sweeter but retained that good smoke flavor. Coleslaw was simple but special; very fresh, not too much mayo or sugar. Mac'n'cheese was solid. And, I mean, if you are like me and feel that BBQ requires a special kind of personal touch to go from good to great, this is the real thing. The two of them stood chatting with a friend while we were eating and I heard (not eavesdropping, but it's a very small place) that he'd been at a regional BBQ contest the prior day - he spoke very humbly about his chances while she said encouraging things. The prices were very reasonable, and they comped me the slaw and the cup of pulled pork for no good reason but that i was friendly (as far as I could tell).

Where I live (Mt. Airy), I'm about equidistant from this place (in Ardsley) and the much-more-established Tommy Gunn's. I'd pick Fat Frank's hands-down, anytime, no question about it. Twice as good for half the price.

I think they're still working out their hours. The Whistle - a whole separate operation, from what I can tell - is there on weekdays and then Fat Frank's occupies the space from morning to sell-out on Saturdays and Sundays.

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  1. Mmm, that sounds great! Dumb question: where is Ardsley? Never heard of it!

    1. I live down the street from here and had no idea they had bbq! Is it only on the weekends?

      1. Thanks for sharing! I've notices alot of weekend bbq places popping up lately - Fat Franks, Smoke Daddy's at Iron Eagle Lodge in Lansdale, Whooleys off the train tracks in Ambler (thugh that has been around a while). Nothing beats that homey and handmade bbq, no restaurants in the area come even remotely close to the hand made stuff.

        1. @Bashful - Ardsley is in Montgomery County in the middle of the circle formed by Willow Grove, Jenkintown, Glenside, Oreland and Ft. Washington.

          @gwebber - I think it's only weekends for now

          @everyone - if you want more info and are on Facebook they have a very endearing FB page where they seem to mostly spend time thanking their customers for coming, but also post updates on hours and menu. Looks like they're working towards growing their schedule. Also looks like they have a full menu of sides (cornbread, beans, etc.) that I haven't tried yet:


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          1. re: GDSwamp

            thank you for posting--I hope they get some signs up- we saw the activity but assumed it was the whistle doing a weekend something, like hot dogs. I do BBQ in my backyard smoker and would love to chat with Frank and try his Q.

          2. Wowzer!! I guess I know what I'm doing on Saturday! I can't believe there is BBQ right down the road a piece from home. MANY thanks, GD Swamp, for posting!

            Anyone trying to pinpoint the location: it's on Jenkintown Road, where Edge Hill Road ends. The train station is next to the cemetary and across the street from CVS and Subway. The nearest cross interesction is at Jenkintown Road & Tyson Ave. The closest major intersection is Easton Road (Rt. 611) and Jenkintown Road.

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