Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Smoked Meats and Southern Treats!

Boston's food scene has been an exciting place of late with an impressive number of celebrity chefs bunking down with top chef positions or their very own visions of what's needed next.  From Jason Santos and Blue Inc. to Jaime Bisonnette's head honcho position at both Coppa and Toro, all areas of Boston are flourishing.  
Just a couple of weeks ago, Tiffani Faison, who placed second during the first season of Top Chef, opened her first ever solo restaurant project in Fenway: Sweet Cheeks. Hers' is a challenging concept in Boston - traditional, Texan BBQ, focusing on smoked meat and all the usual accompaniements.  When you think about it..there is definitely a lack of good ol' southern food up in here. 

I was a bit nervous heading into the restaurant this past Tuesday because there had been so much hype around this opening...that's what you get when a celebrity chef opens a restaurant!  However, once I stepped inside and was met by the smell of sweet and smoking meats, I somehow knew I would not be disappointed. 

The interior layout does justice to the laid back, casual feel of any true smokehouse. A bar on the left is mirrored by an open kitchen to the right where Chef Faison herself can be seen bustling around setting orders straight. The restroom can be found at the end of make shift hallway lined with old and empty giant tin cans.

My friends and I plopped down pretty quickly and ordered some drinks. I did not order any of their cocktails...but I did go for a 'sprecher's' ginger beer which - at 5 dollars - was a bit pricey, but once placed in a big mason jar full of ice really is a perfect libation:)
As far as food goes, first thing is first....order a bucket of Buttermilk Biscuits served with honey butter. These arrived an followed shortly by the most tantalizing smell. The biscuits were gargantuan and although 4 for ten dollars made for a good deal, I think it would be better to price them individually...I shudder to think how many of these beauties get tossed...
As for the meat, there are a couple ways you can navigate the menu. I would opt for the meat by weight option. At 19 dollars a pound, you can order by the quarter lb.  My friends and I ordered a 1/4 lb. of each type of meat: Great Northern brisket, Berkshire pork belly, Berkshire pulled pork and pulled chicken. Everything comes served in delightful tin trays and the meat is served alongside traditional fixings..aka white bread, pickles and onions.  The meats were all delicious, so tasty and tender - they must have been smoked with gentle, tender, loving care for days! (then again, they probably are!)

Sides must also be considered and one cannot (and should not) resist fried temptations such as the Fried Green tomatoes and Okra. We also ordered their mac and cheese and coleslaw (you know...for some vegetables...) The latter two did not show up at the table however, having been forgotten by our waitress. This actually ended up being a blessing as we found we could not have done them justice anyways!
We decided to skip dessert - no matter how tempting the Giant nutter butter looked, I could not even begin to image getting through it without ice cream...something they unfortunately did not have on the menu or in some secret nook of the kitchen. 
In the end, despite the little slips of memory and menu shortcomings, what we did have was absolutely incredible. We finished our meal feeling full and warm, ready to venture back into the cold outdoors...

Although I did see a couple gallant young fellows test their post-Sweet Cheeks selves on this ominous friends and I steered clear of it - no need to associate such a delicious experience with any degree of moderation:)
I am already very much looking forward to my next visit...lucky for me, I also have some leftovers in my fridge at this very moment...second dinner anyone?

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