Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > New Jersey >
Jul 26, 2012 12:28 PM

BBQ [split from NJ Monthly Poll]

Thought the same about Local Smoke vs. Big Ed's.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Local Smoke and Big Ed's are both C- restaurants at best. Barbeque recquire two things - soul and not being reheated too much. Both spots fail miserably.

    15 Replies
    1. re: MGZ

      MGz, Do you frequent any BBQ places locally? I'm interested in your opinion.

      I smoke my own meats so im wondering if i am missing something in Monmouth worth driving to.

      Big eds brisket is pretty good. It lacks deep smoke flavor but its the best i have found around here. Bbq is so subjective though. Ten people will like ten different styles.

      Ps, this thing is a popularity contest like high school lol

      1. re: corvette johnny

        Honestly, I don't. There is no place around that seems to have sufficient turnover to be able to consistently serve quality meats. If you smoke your own meats, you know the difference between something still warm from the grill and meat that has been refrigerated and warmed.

        1. re: corvette johnny

          Cross the river to Northeast Philadelphia and try Sweet Lucy's

          1. re: FrankJBN

            Just curious about Lucy's . . . I read the Philly and PA boardand don't see universal raves about the place. Have you been to anyplace in NJ? Given the instant discussion can you tell us why its worth crossing the Delawae?

        2. re: MGZ

          MGZ - Obviously you are entitled to your opinion however Local Smoke's numerous competition awards and the opinions of other trusted hounds would indicate otherwise.

          1. re: bgut1

            I doubt that they use the same indoor smoker oven at competitions or offer the judges meats that have been reheated so much.

            1. re: MGZ

              Well, upon reflection, I think I was a bit harsh yesterday. They're C+ restaurants.

              1. re: MGZ

                Ok, I was just wondering if you knew about a place I didn't. LOL

                I can see how Big eds took the award. He serves up HUGE quantities of mediocre BBQ to tons of people. That place has stadium seating and is packed all the time for the most part. Again, it is a popularity contest. He has tons of loyal fans and people come from far and wide to eat there ....and to stuff themselves with AYCE ribs.

                Local smoke is not bad and caters more to the BBQ snob people IMO (myself included.) I think the ribs are their strong point but a little too much chew on them for me. Brisket is a little dry for me too, but I guess that can be expected the way they need to serve it. A few splashes of BBQ sauce fixes that right up : ) Overall, its decent though and I go there. So I can see how a smaller niche market BBQ place lost to a monster like Big Eds. Is it fair, probably not but that is the way it goes...

                It has to be a real hard task to serve large amounts of BBQ consistently. I run around getting BBQ prepped for my wife and I so I could imagine trying to do an entire restaurant would be a challenge.

                Ok I will go off on a tangent...

                Here is my gripe with competition BBQ. It is a panel of judges that are TRAINED to look for certain flavors, looks, and qualities of the meat. Yes i guess that brings consistency but if you took 50 random people off the street that really like BBQ, I bet results would be a lot different in the winners circle.

                So here is where I am going...If local smoke veered off its competition style roots, would it do better catering to the masses? Again, I like that place and they serve quality product.I am simply wondering. If they did somethings like a slightly more tender rib, maybe some heavier smoke, and even thicker rib sauce, would they gain more fans? I doubt they will stray from their competition style but just some discussion. God I love BBQ LOL

                Even Johnny Trigg says he doesnt like his competition BBQ ribs. I recall him saying "give me some salt and pepper with a little smoke on it"

                PS, MGZ I have a texas tripped planned next year. Brisket fest 2013 ; )

                1. re: corvette johnny

                  "[R]ibs are their strong point but a little too much chew on them for me. Brisket is a little dry for me. Brisket is a little dry for me . . . ."

                  Mmmm . . . yummy. Like I said, C+

                  Have fun in Texas - sounds like a blast!

            2. re: bgut1

              BBQ competitions are a totally different animal than running a BBQ restaurant. Turn in times for the various categories are rigidly enforced and competitors time their preparations down to the minute.

              A BBQ restaurant serving lunch and dinner has to be able to serve all their selections from noon til 8 or 9pm. BBQ can not be cooked to order. It is difficult to predict business, so running out of product or having it left over is always a possibility.

              Being a winner at competition does not easily translate to the retail environment.

              1. re: equal_Mark

                yeah I agree 100%.

                There is some famous place that has a motto "the bbq is done when its done, and we close when we run out"

                The name escapes me but they won't reheat BBQ and sell out every night, much to the dismay of the late night clients. I am pretty sure its one of the big BBQ belt houses.

                1. re: corvette johnny

                  That may not be the motto, but it is the rule of EVERY good BBQ place I've ever been to, be it in the Carolinas, or Memphis, or Texas, or St Louis, or pretty much anywhere that BBQ is taken seriously. It's perhaps a function of the fact that there are enough everyday patrons to finish every last bit of what's cooked but it's also an indicator that there are places whose first allegiance is to their reputation and not their cash register.

                  Note that there ARE places, even in the BBQ heartland, who reheat the Q. In the very early months of, Jim Leff (the founder and 'alphadog' of this board) asked me to review a book called "Smokestack Lightning". The review may still be somewhere on this board, I don't know if the book is still in print, but if it is, it's worth reading. This is a BBQ tour by a pair of guys who had the passion. The very first stop in the book is at a place called Hawkins Grill, in Memphis, where the BBQ is done in advance, stored below the bar in a fridge, and heated on a flattop when ordered. It's not just NJ that reheats..... from the reactions of Elie and Stewart (the authors) this was not a fatal flaw....

                  I've done BBQ for many years, and the single biggest advantage an amateur has is he doesn't have to "make BBQ pay." The second biggest is what was pointed out by Corvette Johnny, above [paraphrasing]: we can oversmoke if that's what WE like. We can go to the "falling off the bone" point if that's what WE like. Cheryl Jamison is not going to show up at my front door and berate my ribs for the experiment with Chinese Five Spice (ok, it didn't work out as brilliantly as Dave Sit's do, but, for crying out loud, it was an EXPERIMENT!) I don't lose points with friends and family because I make by BBQ the way I want it on that particular day (or actually the way I wanted it on the first of the three days it takes to plan the BBQ) - in short, we have it a lot easier than the guys who have to make a living at it, and MUCH easier than the guys who have to hit an engineered scoring grid.

                  1. re: eapter

                    Good BBQ = dry rub and sauce applied by customer. Bad BBQ = sauce applied in the kitchen. Very simple.

                    1. re: eapter

                      I agree with you. Making good barbecue isn't that hard, but making consistently great barbecue for a living is. Similarly, making barbecue for a living and accepting that you're never gonna get rich doing is harder. That's why the State is peppered with so many restaurants at the same level of quality. I even agree that it is possible to reheat meats and have them be great, but that doesn't mean that most places have figured out how to do it or do it on a consistent enough basis that they don't wind up resteaming, resaucing, or rerefrigerating.

                      1. re: eapter

                        "In the very early months of, Jim Leff asked me to review a book called "Smokestack Lightning". The review may still be somewhere on this board:

                        Here it is:

                        "Smokestack Lightning is not a cookbook; it's chowhounding, pure and simple. The subtitle says it all: "Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country." The adventures all occur in the mouth; this is a diary of the author's travels as he spends a summer crossing the country sampling BBQ. He visits big, famous restaurants, roadside stands, and home Sunday family BBQ. Elie is in love with--and offers rich folklore and sociological observations of--the people and places as much as the food itself, and he brings the reader along for the ride. Fewer than a dozen pages of of this two hundred page book are devoted to recipes and techniques; that's not the emphasis. It won't sit in your kitchen; it will sit by your easy chair.