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Max's Bad BBQ


Stone
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Max's is the place for bbq in Hudson Valley. It was won the Hudson Valley best bbq award for like a million years. It's packed.

It's not good.

Well, I should qualify that. It's not good bbq. That is, if you define bbq as using smoke. Now, I didn't ask anyone at Max's whether they actually smoke the meat they call bbq, but if they did, they should try moving the meat closer to the wood.

The restaurant is in a beautiful old building on Route 9, just South of Red Hook. It has a very nice bar in front with large bowls of overly-salted peanuts in their shells. (Well, if you shell your peanuts you may not think there's too much salt, but I like poppin the whole thing. I could always use more fiber and aflotoxins.) Gratis.

a friend and I took a break from the auction of the Bob Guccione estate and heading to Max's for dinner. We passed on the 30 minute wait cause we wanted to head back to the excitement. (Auction people are bigger freaks than food people.)

I ordered the pulled pork and brisket combo, with Max's chili and collards on the side. The pork was good, just not bbq unless, as I noted, you consider any low, slow cooking to be bbq. I'm not interested in that debate. But I think that any reasonable person going into a "BBQ" establishment (this was no "joint") expects a little smoke involved. There was none. Instead, there was a pile of well-cooked, well-pulled pork shoulder already mixed with a sweet, other-wise empty tomato "bbq" sauce. It was enjoyable pork candy.

The brisket was just a miss. No smoke ring. Not even a hint of red. Nor a hint of smoke flavor. Nada. And the fat? Gone. Perfectly timmed of even the slightest hint this piece of meat ever came sheathed in luscious white blubber. I can understand trimming the fat, though, to appeal to the diners. But I'm guessing that it was trimmed before, not after cooking. And in fact, I wouldn't be surprised to find that these flavorless, dry piece of meat were braised, not smoked. The brisket was served on a bed of smothered onions which gave the only hint of true flavor.

The chili was, well, not chili. Let's not get started about the beans debate, because that's all this had. And I love a good vegetarian chili, but this stuff was bean soup with a heavy dash cumin. Nothing more.

The collards were also pretty bad by my standards. Minced and sauteed in way too much butter and garlic that would have been good if served really hot. Instead it was served room temperature, allowing the butter to start solidifying. Ick.

I think I'm going to open a weekend bbq stand up in the valley.

Edited by Stone (log)
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Stone, you are expecting WAY too much. This is Red Hook NY, not Red Hook Tennessee...Actually, I have eaten there once (I'm sure that number will go up when we are official residents of Red Hook) and I thought the ribs were just smoky enough. I like my ribs a little saucier than they were served at Max's, but I thought they were still quite good.

Of course, brisket should be smoky enough to at least conjure up an image of a matchstick, so no smoke at all says that something is wrong. Is it possible that you lost your sense of smell without knowing it? Perhaps you were drinking an over-oaked chardonnay and that was clouding your perception of smoky pork products? Maybe you had lingering thoughts of the Guccione mansion still tickling your brain, thereby rendering your frontal lobe useless!! I mean, it could be anything!! :biggrin:

Yeah, it probably was from lack of smoke... :angry:

Edited by adegiulio (log)

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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Just wait 'til you come over for Q.  Then you'll be outside Max's with a picket sign.

I've been to Max's at least half a dozen times before moving out here, and without a doubt the food at Max's isn't BBQ. That said, last time I was there they had really good garlic smashed potatoes and the steaks they serve aren't awful - which is as good as you get in Red Hook.

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Kinda makes you wonder why they were voted "best in the hudson valley" Who was voting, Patty and Selma Bouvier?? (ok a dozen donuts to the person who can tell me who they are and why this makes sense)

One thing I have to hand to Max's and their sister restaurant in Tivoli called Santa Fe, is that their billboards are darn funny. While the Max's billboard slogan "Got BBQ?" is clearly a rip-off, the sign for Santa Fe, "Margaritas, high in Vitamin C!" really makes me want to go there for my extra nutrients...or wash down some Flintstones chewables with some tequila, hey I'll take what I can get...

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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Just wait 'til you come over for Q.  Then you'll be outside Max's with a picket sign.

'tis true, 'tis true! Take him up on it. :wink:

And I love the billboard too--I'd probably turn the car around, tires screeching, just to go someplace where the powers that be have that sense of humor!

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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Well, Stone, while those are decent attempts at my riddle, your answer falls a bit short. While it explains WHO Patty and Selma are (quite hilariously I might add), it neglects to address WHY it makes sense that they would be the judges naming Max's the "Best of the Hudson Valley" or BOTHV as I like to say. Both Patty and Selma chain smoke, thereby filling their sinus cavities with a constant red smoke ring. We can only assume that their sense of taste and smell is shot, or at the very least, their ability to discern smoky treats would be seriously diminished. Also Selma, as we learn in episode 8F20, titled "Black Widower" has completely lost her ability to smell, which nearly led to her demise. :biggrin:

I need a life. And some bacon cookies. And a raspberry twist with a double glaze...

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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Well, Stone, while those are decent attempts at my riddle, your answer falls a bit short. While it explains WHO Patty and Selma are (quite hilariously I might add), it neglects to address WHY it makes sense that they would be the judges naming Max's the "Best of the Hudson Valley" or BOTHV as I like to say. Both Patty and Selma chain smoke, thereby filling their sinus cavities with a constant red smoke ring. We can only assume that their sense of taste and smell is shot, or at the very least, their ability to discern smoky treats would be seriously diminished. Also Selma, as we learn in episode 8F20, titled "Black Widower" has completely lost her ability to smell, which nearly led to her demise.  :biggrin:

I need a life. And some bacon cookies. And a raspberry twist with a double glaze...

Well, I get a half-dozen at least.

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Didn't realize that there was a place in the Hudson Valley trying to serve BBQ.

One reason may be that a 'Q place should be easy notice anywhere for a few miles downwind, and I haven't yet so noticed a place.

So, it may be that the Hudson Valley governments just do not understand the unique attractions of such contributions to the local atmosphere and environment and, thus, keep down what a 'Q place can do with smoke.

What would be the right food and wine to go with

R. Strauss's 'Ein Heldenleben'?

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Didn't realize that there was a place in the Hudson Valley trying to serve BBQ.

There are a few of us. My restauraunt, Barnstormer Barbeque, is in Newburgh NY. There is also A Taste of Texas in Coldenham (Orange County), Hickory Babecue Smokehouse in Kingston, Jenny's in Milan (Dutchess County) in addition to Max's.

Barnstormer BBQ

Rt. 9W

Fort Montgomery NY

845 446 0912

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  • 1 month later...
Kinda makes you wonder why they were voted "best in the hudson valley"

If parts of the Hudson Valley suffer from the same mentality as central NY (Syracuse to be specific) then it's a matter of taste - if people haven't tried the real deal they don't know any better. Our local weekly arts & entertainment paper just printed their annual "Best Of Syracuse" list as voted for by their readers. Domino's and Pizza Hut were #2 and #3 on the list of "Best Pizza". We're no pizza capital but it's easy to do way better than than those two....

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  • 10 months later...

I went back to Max's this weekend, and it's still bad.

The brisket had a smoke ring, yet no smoke flavor. It was trimmed naked of any hint of fat and any moisture was wrung out of it. If it wasn't served on a bed of sauteed onion, it would have been like eating halvah.

The pulled pork was o.k., but still not smokey. Too much sweet bbq sauce.

The ribs, again, were o.k., but not smokey. They tasted (and looked) more like Chinese style spare-ribs.

Again, the chilli is nothing more than a minestrone with tons of cumin, and the collard greens were overcooked minced green specks in a broth of butter and cream. Disgusting.

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Clearly we are going to have to do something about this.

PARTY AT STONE'S!!!

I'll bring the smoked butt....

Everyone in the pool!

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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Ant, you beat me to it! WHY, WHY, WHY would you go for "disgusting" BBQ when you make it so well?!? Just b/c you have to stay up all night monitoring the progress? No excuse!! :laugh: Now get that smoker cranking and let us know what to bring, willya?? :wink:

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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I put my pork in at 10-11pm for lunchtime or 5am for dinnertime. I don't have to monitor nothing since I have one of these bad boys...My sweet wife got it for my birthday. Love that girl...

Mmm mmm mmm...smokey

Ant

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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:laugh: Of course, I read For gourmet chefs, sportsmen and stylish outdoor cooking. and tried to picture you doing some stylish outdoor cooking...

:laugh::laugh:

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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I ate at Max's back in February, and it was great. By great, I mean a lot better than I expected. I had chicken and ribs. The chicken was great, with a very good smoke flavor. The ribs were similarly well-smoked. I thought I had it made.

However, I went back this weekend. I had the ribs again. Smoke wasn't absent, but it was clear that it hadn't penetrated the ribs very deeply. The outer layer was pink, but about a half-inch in, the pork was white. These were very meaty ribs, so I assume they just weren't cooked long enough.

The sides seem to be excellent, especially the cheese grits. Didn't try the collard greens, though.

Based on my two experiences, I wouldn't say that Max is just plain bad, but it seems to be very inconsistent. On the other hand, it's a pleasant place to eat, so I would probably risk it and go back anyway.

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The outer layer was pink, but about a half-inch in, the pork was white. These were very meaty ribs, so I assume they just weren't cooked long enough.

The pink outer layer is the smoke ring. It's supposed to be there. It's got all the nitrate-goodness.

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The outer layer was pink, but about a half-inch in, the pork was white. These were very meaty ribs, so I assume they just weren't cooked long enough.

The pink outer layer is the smoke ring. It's supposed to be there. It's got all the nitrate-goodness.

What I was trying to get across was that the smoke ring wasn't that deep in the meet. I think that either they aren't smoking it long enough or switch to less meaty ribs. For example, the ribs at Blue Smoke are pink almost all the way through, but are less meaty than Max's.

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