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new BBQ in robbinsville

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saw a sign this morning for a new BBQ restaurant in the Foxmoor Shopping center. found the website which said it will open in November. no menus yet.

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  1. http://funnibonz.com/

    I'm a big fan of their bbq sauces and rubs. Really looking forward to the opening of their restaurant.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jsfein

      interesting - I was not aware there were any other locations - the web site only mentioned this one....

      where's the other one(s)?

      Nick

    2. Here is a link to an article in the Trentonian. Tried the sauce at the Princeton Junction Farmers Market. Not bad but not my style.

      http://www.trentonian.com/article/TT/...

      1. Anyone know if this place in Robbinsville is (or is likely, in the near future to) open?

        6 Replies
        1. re: mchametzky

          they have a large banner type sign at the road leading into the shopping center saying "now hiring".

          1. re: BeeZee

            went by there last week. the windows are covered with signs and people were working inside. there were postcards outside advertising Christmas catering. last time I went to the web site, it was not quite baked. I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

            1. re: nick28

              update - went by there again today - status unchanged. Went around the back to see if there was a smoker outside - nada.

              1. re: nick28

                Website definitely still not ready for prime time.

                1. re: mchametzky

                  No. We are working on it. But we are very active on Facebook. Please join us there until the new site is up and running.

                  1. re: CasiBK

                    ah, the chowhound connection :-)

          2. Well, they still don't seem to be open, but they have updated the website.

            It now says "Website Under Construction" and "Opening November, 2013". No specific date, no menu. I'm not trying to be snarky, I just want some dynamite barbecue this close (less than 3 miles) from my home.

            I really want them to be both good and successful-and I don't think those characteristics need to be mutually exclusive.

            MC in Hamilton.

            1. I thought that I had read opening on the 24th (tomorrow, Sun) in one of the local freebie papers, the one that gets delivered (not The Times). They also have coupons in the valpak mailer or that Mercer County advertising glossy mag with all the coupons that comes once a month or so.

              3 Replies
              1. re: kamiosaki

                Hi, all. Final inspection has been completed for the FunniBonz SmokeHouse in Robbinsville. Our Grand Opening is scheduled for Dec 7th. Thanks for your interest. We are as excited as you are!!!

                1. re: CasiBK

                  sweet!!!

                  1. re: CasiBK

                    Looking forward to it!

                2. They were at the Italian Festival at Mercer County Park this year and I picked up a platter. Their chicken was really good but the fried brown sugar corn was awesome, can't wait until opening. The prices were reasonable and under $10 but not sure if that was just festival pricing. Menus must be floating somewhere, they had them all over the park.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: DanielleBell

                    well, they opened today as promised. stopped by at noon and the place was hopping. there are a few picnic tables.

                    going tonight with the missus for our first taste. the menu suggests you: 1) pick a meal (salad, sandwich, or platter, 2) pick your sides. with salads you can pick your toppings, dressing and meats. you can also add extra meat ($2.99, toppings ($.49) or a side ($1.99).

                    sandwiches (all are $5.99) come with cole slaw, pickles or pickled onions. the choices are pulled pork, pulled chicken, Texas-style brisket, smoked turkey, and meat(less) loaf. extra meat is $2.99, extra toppings are $.49 and you can add a side for $1.99.

                    the platters are $8.99 except for the St. Louis style ribs ($12.99) and brisket ($11.99). other platters are 1/2 smoked chicken, pulled port, smoked turkey, Texas style sausges and meat(less) loaf. They all come with one side and choice of buttermilk biscuit or cornbread. You can add an additional serving of meat for $4.99.

                    Sides include Mac & cheese, smokehouse baked beans, stewed tomato green beans, cole slaw, tomato cucumber salad, french fries, fried corn on the cob, sweet potato pudding, baked potato, cinnamon baked apples, collard greens, and mashed potatoes and gravy. other additions include Funnibonz BBW potato chips ($2.49), pork rinds ($2.99), pickled jalapeno peppers (2) $.99, pickled onion ($.99) and biscuit/cornbread $.79. there are also a kids meal $4.99 and desserts (sweet potato pie, pecan pie, banana pudding, triple chocolate layer cake, creamy cheese cake - all are $2.99.

                    you can also purchase meat by the pound or rack, or a wh0oe smoked chicken for $4.99 (which seems like quite the bargain). sides can also be purchased by the pint ($5.99) or quart ($9.99).

                    the menu also mentions a whole pig - but you have to give 48 hours notice.

                    looking forward to some reviews..

                    1. re: nick28

                      I went in yesterday around 12:30. Already a pretty big line. I had already eaten, so I just picked up a couple of menus and watched the kitchen staff work. Looked like some back of house people were being trained-which is to be expected. The woman in the front, acting as greeter/hostess/expediter seemed genuinely cherfull and helpful.

                      One thing I did not notice was the smoky smell of meat/chicken smoking/barbecuing which I learned to love in various locales, includingTexas.

                      But, as I said, I didn't eat-plan on giving them a week or so, to smooth out (any) opening bumps. Still, if anyone has eaten there, I'd love to hear your impressions, especially on the food.
                      Thanks,

                      MC

                      1. re: nick28

                        Thanks for the menu details! Nice selection of sides. Will have to check this out soon.

                        1. re: esjro

                          YVW. went yesterday for lunch. had the pulled pork, mashed potatoes and baked beans. all very good. BTW, although its not n the menu, you can order a platter that has a sandwich instead of the corn bread/muffin (unless the young lady was just being nice to me). Spoke to the owner - very nice guy.

                          I could not find out who there is posting to chowhound. kept asking, "are you the chowhound person?" got some strange looks - lucky they didn't throw me out before I could eat my food :-)

                    2. First things first. This is a welcome addition to the area; not since the early days of Pom-Pom (before they cut corners and laid off their pitmaster, eventually going under) has there been real BBQ around here, and believe me, this is real BBQ.

                      Necessary things second: many of the observations below are colored by my own prejudices when it comes to BBQ. I like my meat oversmoked. I prefer vinegar-based sauces on pulled pork. I like more salt that sugar in my rubs.

                      With those things out of the way, let’s talk about FunniBonz. The place is new and clean and sensibly set up – more than half the space is kitchen and serving area, speaking to the expectation of a great deal of take-out (which accounted for much more than half the sales during the hour I was there, between noon and one PM on a Sunday.) The staff is friendly and helpful. They’re still not completely up-to-speed on BBQ, and only 90% complete in learning the ins and outs of the menu, but the place has only been open a week. There’s obvious training-while-doing going on, conducted by the owners, and it’s non-obtrusive, done in a fun “pop-quiz” way.

                      Okay, so how about the food? Since this was a tasting trip and not a “meal” per se, I ordered two sandwiches (intending to simply taste the meat) and a couple of sides (which don’t come with sandwiches but can be ordered ala carte.) The brisket is good, but not remarkable. It’s smoked over hickory (post oak being unavailable [and even if it were, it would require a dedicated smoker since you don’t want your pork smoked over oak]) and that means the deep Texas-style smoke flavor is missing. It’s juicy and tasty, with sufficient smoke-ring but it’s not what I’d come back here for.

                      The pulled pork cannot be faulted. Juicy and flavorful, the taste of the meat itself predominates (which speaks to the real passion for BBQ of the owners – this is not merely a canvas on which to paint with sauces like Famous Dave’s or too many other chain BBQ places.) I’ll be back to order by the pound when I don’t have two days to smoke my own.

                      A couple of quibbles: I almost never have to salt BBQ – the salt content in the rub takes care of that; in FunniBonz rub, however, salt is not the top ingredient (sugar is) and both the brisket and pork needed a little salt. Perhaps putting a shaker of rub on the tables (like they do at 17th Street) might be a nice touch. Second quibble: there are many varieties of cole-slaw, but the one that works least well on top of pulled pork as part of the sandwich is the “fresh,” coarsely cut, “snappy” kind, which what is served here.) Several times I found myself tearing the sandwich apart because my bite put me squarely in the middle of a nickel-sized piece of unyielding cabbage.

                      An observation: I intended to simply sample a few forkfuls of each meat for my notes; however, somehow I managed to finish each sandwich…

                      The sides: I started with the mac and cheese and the collard greens (two Shibboleths of real BBQ places) and found the best and worst of the meal. The worst (mac and cheese) was not bad, just disappointing – it was nothing special and just a tiny bit grainy and a tiny bit oily. Even with the addition of much-needed salt, this was not a success. The collard greens, however, were remarkable. It’s easy to cut the bitterness of collard greens by either overcooking them (and changing the water along the way) or by adding too much sugar. FunniBonz falls into neither of these traps, serving up greens that would be considered first rate in Wilson, NC. There is just enough of the “bite” remaining to cleanse the palate, just enough “green” to remind you of what you’re eating, and just enough sweetness to keep you gobbling. After these two, I went back up to the counter and ordered a biscuit, a piece of fried corn, and the BBQ beans. The biscuit was tasty enough, but the bottom was a bit tough. With butter, or with food, it probably would have been fine, but simply as a stand-alone item in a tasting, it was not. The fried corn was a victim of the season; corn loses 50% of it’s sugar to starch in the first 8 hours after it is picked and any corn you can get in Robbinsville, NJ, in mid-December is going to lack sugar. I want to try this again next August. The Smokehouse Baked Beans were the joker in the deck of the entire tasting. Two and a half hours later, I’m still trying to decide if these were the best thing I ate all day, or if they were just so unusual that I’m scoring them higher than they should be. In either case, order them, and decide for yourself. Don’t go in expecting pinto beans (or little reds) in a dark, thick, molasses sauce with gobs of onions and ham hock. These are what I believe are pink beans and black beans, first done in the smoker, then cooked forever with red and green bell peppers, in a very thin sauce. It’s a fresh taste, and perfectly balanced.

                      Since FunniBonz started as a sauce company, it’s only fair to mention the four sauces they put out on the tables (and sell at the register by the bottle.) The original sauce is a fairly thick (think Memphis) sauce, with too little vinegar for my taste, but absolutely brilliantly balanced flavor. I know a dozen people who will make this their go-to sauce and I’m buying a case as stocking-stuffers. The “Spicy” sauce is equally brilliant – it’s not easy to add kick to a sauce and retain the signature flavor, but FunniBonz does it. The “Fiery Chipotle” sauce is the weakest of the three, through no fault of its own; it’s a sauce designed for people who equate “hot” and “good” and I suppose it would succeed for them. The SC mustard-based sauce is quite outstanding. It’s sweeter than a traditional SC sauce, but again the balance is brilliant. The person responsible for all these sauces has a great palate, and although style-wise they aren’t going to be my personal favorites, I’ll be keeping a bottle of each around (we presently have 14 different BBQ sauces in the fridge, including 6 homemade ones) for company.

                      I wish this place great success – we need a real BBQ place in the area and I firmly hope the area will support this one; we see places come and go, but for this one to go would be a real loss.

                       
                      14 Replies
                      1. re: eapter

                        excellent review, E. like I said, constructive criticism so they can prosper and we can enjoy their food forever :-)

                        1. re: nick28

                          Second visit, a week later. This time, I already had some ribs shipped in from Mike Mill’s place (17th St. Bar and Grill) that we were going to have for dinner, and wanted lots of takeout from Funnibonz to go with it.

                          First thing I noticed was that at 12:15 on Sunday (pretty much the same as the prior week) all the tables were full and the line went back to the door. I found out later that yesterday (Saturday) was the busiest they had ever been and they actually sold out of some things. Good news. The place seems to be catching on. The staff is one-week better trained and seem to be working more as a team now. The packed place wasn’t a hurdle this time, and ordering a regular order (mine was a lot of “by the pound” stuff and took a little bit of time) was painless and there was very little delay in getting served.

                          While waiting, they offered to show me the smoker. A picture is attached – it’s a diamond-plate massive smoker designed to take whole logs. The smoke-box is the door in the lower right. There’s not a huge offset (they make commercial smokers where the box is not part of the main unit, but is rather connected to the smoke chamber by pipe) so it makes watching out for hot-spots a little tricky, but while I was standing there, whole turkeys were being taken out, and I’ve never seen better looking birds.

                          We ordered a couple of pounds of pulled pork, some Texas smoked sausage (which they were out of last week,) mac and cheese, coleslaw, collard greens, BBQ beans, Sweet Potato Pudding, and a medium sack of cornbread.

                          Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: the mac and cheese was still the disappointment of the meal, albeit for a different reason. Not grainy and oily this time (a change in the cheese?) but there was an off-putting after-taste. The owner/Pitmaster has said he’s about to change the pasta, so I knew to expect it, but my younger daughter (the best palate in the family) noticed it right away and described it as “chemical.” Note that neither my wife nor elder daughter noticed it at all, so for most people, I don’t think it’s an issue, but the owner has a great palate himself, and is dedicated to making his place the best of the best, so expect him to get this right.

                          The “I still have no clue” news: neither daughter number two nor I have been able to decide if the smoked baked beans are great art, or just so unusual that you have to keep thinking about them. We’ll both keep tasting and thinking about it. An enjoyable task.

                          Now the really good news. First, to be on the plate with Mike Mills ribs (remember he’s the “Magic Dust” guy) most BBQ is going to have to be at LEAST excellent to keep up. FunniBonz pulled pork absolutely held it’s own – same notes as last week’s tasting. The Texas smoked sausage was excellent, but they don’t do that from scratch – they ship it in from Texas (an absolutely perfect way to supply what can’t reasonably be assembled from scratch here.) The collard greens were as wonderful as last week. The coleslaw had changed much for the better – finer slice, better for putting on the sandwich. The cornbread was excellent, but PLEASE understand this is not that super-sweet cornbread that many people prefer – this is a moist, softer-than-expected, beautifully mouth-filling bite that requires butter, or drippings, or sauce, or all of the above and will show off THOSE tastes with the backdrop of cornbread. It’s not the star of the show, and doesn’t want to be; it’s exactly what you want as PART of a great meal.

                          Now the insanely good news. Sweet Potato Pudding. Let me say it again. Sweet Potato Pudding. It’s not a dessert and it’s not mashed sweet potatoes, and it’s not that overly-sweet thing your Aunt Ethel makes that tastes of sugar and spice and anything but sweet-potatoes. I don’t know exactly WHAT it is, but I’d go half and hour out of my way just for this, and I’m not a huge fan of sweet potatoes. I eat them because you can’t NOT eat them at a real BBQ place, and because you have to learn to cook with them if you’re going to do BBQ yourself. The killer of this dish is that it tastes predominantly of sweet potato, and you find yourself LIKING sweet potato. You find yourself LOVING sweet potato.

                          I normally cook BBQ at least once a week during snow season, but I suspect this winter I’ll be spending more time traveling to Robbinsville and less time standing in the snow, trying to keep one of my smokers at a stable temperature. Anybody interested in a second-hand smoker, real cheap? Quite a selection…. :)

                           
                           
                          1. re: eapter

                            Is that the 17th Street Gar and Grill in Murphreesboro?

                            1. re: mchametzky

                              Yup. (there's also one in Marion, but I think they do the mail-order out of the Murphrysboro one.)

                            2. re: eapter

                              **DOWNHILL ALERT**

                              Perhaps this is a one-time aberration, perhaps this a beginning of a trend, but it's certainly something to watch: an absolutely unacceptable BBQ sandwich at Funnibonz.

                              I was in that strip mall around 1 PM on Saturday, and stopped by for a quick bite. All I ordered was a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw, no sauce (I put the sauce on AFTER I've tasted the BBQ - all the varieties of Funnibonz sauce are on the tables) and the pork was terrible. It was dry, it was chewy, and it had no flavor to speak of - no rub and no smoke.

                              I didn't see any of the owners around - as I walked up I had seen Jim get into the Funnibonz delivery wagon and pull out - so perhaps there was some fumble in the kitchen that would have been caught had there been someone better in charge.

                              This is not something I would have expected from this place, and certainly not on a Saturday lunchtime. With that said, this was the first time I have ever seen the place empty, and the focus may be shifiting to the catering side, to pay the bills. I certainly hope it's purely a one-off, and not a harbinger of things to come. I'll drop back very soon - hope others will stop by and prove me wrong - I'd hate for this Mecca to be suffering from lack of attention in the basic function of the restaurant: smoking meat.

                              1. re: eapter

                                bummer. I was planning to go there Monday AFTER my Cardiologist visit in the same shopping center - LOL. I'll go anyway to use my coupon. Probably get a double rib platter, though.

                                1. re: eapter

                                  there was some kind of event at Mercer County Park on Saturday, maybe the "A team" was out for that.

                                  1. re: eapter

                                    TWO STRIKES

                                    Went in a month later with several other people for dinner. Again none of the owners were around. Again the food was a disappointment. All the care that went into the start-up has disappeared. The place was apparently being run by a youngster who runs the cash register. On previous occasions he's been a bit grating, but now that he seems to be running the show, he's turned into a full-fledged turn-off. Loud (EXTREMELY loud) and oozing what he must think is charm but is, in fact, a swarmy "used-car-salesman" bravado, he is too busy telling everyone what to do to bother checking on the food. Again the pulled pork was dry. The pulled chicken was dry. The fries were old and soggy and should have been thrown out hours before they were served to us (the place was virtually empty.) The beans had been simmering too long at too high a temperature and instead of being a surprising treat (see my original post from December) they were now a dull, thickened mess.

                                    We'll try it one more time, in another month, but in the meantime, we'll stay away, as you should. A quarter of all new restaurants fail in the first year (not the 80 or 90% that's often quoted) but most of them do it in the SECOND HALF of the first year, and FunniBonz is squarely on the path to follow the trend. Hope for a turn-around - they were wonderful when they were watching the store...

                                    1. re: eapter

                                      thanks for the update, E. sorry to see this happening...

                                      1. re: eapter

                                        Same thing happened to Pom Pom BBQ; the owners were around, but they didn't do anything there. Then the let the main cook (the guy that made the magic) go due to cost. Hopefully the owners here get it.

                                        1. re: jethro

                                          Was able to sample pretty much everything the restaurant serves at a recent event catered by Funni Bonz. Everything I had was delicious, in particular the ribs and the beans. Hopefully whatever issues there may be with the service in the restaurant get sorted out, because the food itself was great.

                                2. re: eapter

                                  Terrific effort! Thanks.

                                  1. re: eapter

                                    Thank you, eapter. That was a truly helpful read (though, honestly, I only skimmed the eighth paragraph, since I think considering sides at a barbecue joint is the culinary equivalent of going home with a gorgeous woman and reflecting, the next day, about the fact that her bra didn't match her underwear).

                                    I have never had good brisket from an East Coast restaurant. It's too finicky a cut to not turnover consistently and there is only so much sauce and resteaming that can make it worth eating. Plus, I agree that it is best smoked with oak as the primary fuel (though I add maple an .

                                    As to your preface that: "I like my meat oversmoked. I prefer vinegar-based sauces on pulled pork. I like more salt that sugar in my rubs." I'm glad that you noted such prejudices. I share 'em. Consequently, it helped me to appreciate your comments.

                                    1. re: MGZ

                                      Good brisket on the East Coast: BrisketTown in Brooklyn. Daniel Vaughn, barbecue editor for Texas Monthly, on his NY barbecue trip last year: "A couple of joints—namely Mighty Quinn's and BrisketTown —could hold their own in Texas." "The best brisket in #nycbbq is at BrisketLab." Excellent ribs too.