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Front Street Smokehouse, Elizabeth


TMus1111
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k43, what's your baseline for good BBQ?  i can understand and appreciate that you didn't think it was all that, but it would be helpful if you mentioned places that you actually like, or styles that you like, etc.

as far as 2 guitars and deafening sound, when's the next show!  :laugh:

My baseline is a no-name place in Chattanooga, TN, on Dodson Avenue next to the bowling alley. It's been run by a black grandfather, father and son since the 1950s. Their ribs have a great crust and burnt ends that raise the flavor level, which Front Street didn't have. By comparison, Front Street had little pork flavor.

FS's sausages were, for me, too upper class, with too many spice notes. I prefer juicier ones with maybe one spice and the Southern amount of fat.

FS's cole slaw was very good, but again, an upper class version that called attention to too many flavors. It should be an accompaniment, not a co-star.

The FS baked beans were blah. The sugar was under control, but I want more bean flavor, with some fatback rather than lean pork.

BBQ should be a sin, not a gourmet dish. I want to pull off the meat and gnaw the marrow out of the soft ends of the bones.

Finally, I want the experience to be about the BBQ, not the music.

You certainly have the right to your opinion, but your description is way off. The type of BBQ you are describing doesnt really have the pork flavor you are speaking about.. Crusty ribs or burnt ends is more about the burntness, the smoke and the sauce used.. The type of BBQ that FSS has, highlights the flavors of the Pork.. As I mentioned before , if you like over sauced, over smoked BBQ then this is not the place for you..But to say this place has little "Pork Flavor" is highly inaccurate... That is unless you got the two pound beef rib.

Besides the place you described, are there any places in NYC or NJ area that you enjoy?

Daniel, I'm betting K43's place in Chattanooga is neither oversmoked nor oversauced, and has plenty of pork flavor along with its crusts and burnt bits, which I agree are an essential element of great barbecue. If you don't like true Southern barbecue (or haven't had it), that's one thing, but I wouldn't call K43's description "highly inaccurate" or imply that because he didn't swoon over Front Street, his taste in barbecue is off.

Truth is, while I like Front Street a lot, I have never had barbecue anywhere in NY or NJ that's as good as what I've been served down South. Obviously, not all the barbecue I've had down there has been better than all the barbecue I've had up here--but the best of the Southern 'cue beats all.

Susan

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Susan, I think you are implying that because he didnt swoon over it I attacked him.. I was saying, that he was highly inaccurate to say that the FSS's BBQ doesnt have pork flavor... I have driven across the country 4 times in the last year for the sole purpose of having BBQ.. And have eaten it every where from the Alder Smoke of Oregon, to Memphis, KC, all through Texas, the Carolina's, and every other place it was served...

As I said, he has the right to his opinion, he should just be able to describe it accurately...

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I don't think you attacked him, but you did say, "As I mentioned before , if you like over sauced, over smoked BBQ then this is not the place for you." Any time you call something "over-" anything, you're saying it's wrong or bad and that someone who likes it has impaired taste buds. If you'd said, "heavily sauced, deeply smoked" it'd be a whole different matter. Apart from the 'pork flavor' bit, what'd you think of his criticisms?

Susan

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Apart from the 'pork flavor' bit, what'd you think of his criticisms?

Susan

Well, I thought what he said was rather general and not very descriptive.. And to say Southern BBQ means nothing to me.. Was it southern in terms of vinegary pork from NC, or the white bbq sauce from S.C, or the dry rub from Memphis, or the BBQ from Texas, or the Cue from Arkansas.. I also was disturbed by implying that because it was made by a black grandfather, that meant something.. Spice notes on a sausage? Huh? He doesnt like classy BBQ and then talks about spice notes..What the hell is a spice note..

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Apart from the 'pork flavor' bit, what'd you think of his criticisms?

Susan

Well, I thought what he said was rather general and not very descriptive.. And to say Southern BBQ means nothing to me.. Was it southern in terms of vinegary pork from NC, or the white bbq sauce from S.C, or the dry rub from Memphis, or the BBQ from Texas, or the Cue from Arkansas.. I also was disturbed by implying that because it was made by a black grandfather, that meant something.. Spice notes on a sausage? Huh? He doesnt like classy BBQ and then talks about spice notes..What the hell is a spice note..

Oops. That 'Southern BBQ' thing was me, not him, and I should've known better. Mea culpa.

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Well, I thought what he said was rather general and not very descriptive.. And to say Southern BBQ means nothing to me.. Was it southern in terms of vinegary pork from NC, or the white bbq sauce from S.C, or the dry rub from Memphis, or the BBQ from Texas, or the Cue from Arkansas..

thank you for saving me from repeating myself. i got quite tired of explaining this on the BBQ in NJ thread a few weeks back. i'm glad someone else is making sense.

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I don't think you attacked him, but you did say, "As I mentioned before , if you like over sauced, over smoked BBQ then this is not the place for you." Any time you call something "over-" anything, you're saying it's wrong or bad and that someone who likes it has impaired taste buds. If you'd said, "heavily sauced, deeply smoked" it'd be a whole different matter. Apart from the 'pork flavor' bit, what'd you think of his criticisms?

Susan

You are right Susan.. Perhaps I was a little attacking.. My main point was to argue that this BBQ certainly does have a Pork flavor and is producing some really great food.. I dont know the type of place he went to.. I could have used heavily instead of over...

I certainly dont want to prevent people from posting there feelings.. I am just particularly sensitive because we are fortunate to have the owners of this establishment on the site.. So, I feel we owe it to Egullet and them to stand behind our criticisms in a clear manner.. Although taste is subjective, there are some truths and facts that cant be argued.

Thanks for pointing this out to me..

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Hey Everyone,

It has happened.  Due to all of your efforts, Peter Genovese from the Star Ledger has written his "Eat with Pete" artical about FSS.  Follow the Link: http://www.nj.com/food/ledger/index.ssf?/b...6650.xml&coll=1 :biggrin:

um, bruce, i would think it had to do more with *your* efforts.

congrats on what i can only assume is a great review (haven't read it yet, but will).

Edited by tommy (log)
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He thought the sweet potato fries were LIMP?!? That's the first time I've heard that one...and unless I missed it, he didn't try the beef rib--his BIG loss, imho.

But hey--congratulations to the Bruces and Phil! As long as the word is out, people will find out on their own how tasty the Q is. :biggrin:

"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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He thought the sweet potato fries were LIMP?!?  That's the first time I've heard that one...and unless I missed it, he didn't try the beef rib--his BIG loss, imho. 

But hey--congratulations to the Bruces and Phil!  As long as the word is out, people will find out on their own how tasty the Q is.  :biggrin:

My thoughts exactly - those sweet potato fries hooked me from the 1st bite - and now that I have tried the beef rib, it is right along side them in my dreams at night.

:wub:

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He thought the sweet potato fries were LIMP?!?  That's the first time I've heard that one...and unless I missed it, he didn't try the beef rib--his BIG loss, imho. 

But hey--congratulations to the Bruces and Phil!  As long as the word is out, people will find out on their own how tasty the Q is.  :biggrin:

My thoughts exactly - those sweet potato fries hooked me from the 1st bite - and now that I have tried the beef rib, it is right along side them in my dreams at night.

:wub:

i don't recall the sweet potato fries being exactly crispy. i suppose "limp" is the other extreme. personally i like them a bit crispier, but that's a personal preference. i'm certainly not shocked to hear someone describe them as "limp", though. even "limp," they're still better than most things i've had at restaurants.

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He thought the sweet potato fries were LIMP?!?  That's the first time I've heard that one...and unless I missed it, he didn't try the beef rib--his BIG loss, imho. 

But hey--congratulations to the Bruces and Phil!  As long as the word is out, people will find out on their own how tasty the Q is.  :biggrin:

My thoughts exactly - those sweet potato fries hooked me from the 1st bite - and now that I have tried the beef rib, it is right along side them in my dreams at night.

:wub:

i don't recall the sweet potato fries being exactly crispy. i suppose "limp" is the other extreme. personally i like them a bit crispier, but that's a personal preference. i'm certainly not shocked to hear someone describe them as "limp", though. even "limp," they're still better than most things i've had at restaurants.

The first time I had them, they were wonderfully crispy. I raved about them for weeks. Next visit, not so crispy, but the taste was still terrific. Given my choice, though, I'd prefer more crispy.

Dana

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  • 4 weeks later...

Based on the positive comments and photos here, and a pretty strong need to get behind a large plate of smoked meat, we drove over for a mid-afternoon lunch.

My wife got a rack of baby backs, while I went for a combo of baby backs, brisket, and sausage. In my experience, it's pretty unusual for all of the meats in a combo BBQ platter to be at the same level of quality; usually there's one standout meat and perfunctory attempts at the others. However, all three were outstanding here, with good, smoky flavor that didn't need BBQ sauce at all. I like BBQ sauce as much as the next guy, but when the meats don't need it, that's when I know I'm in good shape. The sweet potato fries were crispy and delicious, and the cole slaw was the less creamy and more crunchy style, which I personally prefer.

While the atmosphere is more bar-like than restaurant-like, service was good, and we didn't feel out of place with our twin three-year-olds in tow. The weather also cooperated, allowing us to stretch our legs in the park across the street. It's too bad there aren't picnic tables over there; gnawing on those ribs outdoors would have been just about perfect.

We'll be back.

Jeff Shufelt

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Bruce left today for his trip down to Memphis.. Representing, New Jersey, Baby at the Memphis in May BBQ Championship.. I am fortunate enough to be meeting him down there in a few days.. Will take lots of photos and report back to everyone.. Good luck Bruce and Front Street..

Edited by Daniel (log)
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Bruce left today for his trip down to Memphis.. Representing, New Jersey, Baby at the Memphis in May BBQ Championship..  I am fortunate enough to be meeting him down there in a few days..  Will take lots of photos and report back to everyone.. Good luck Bruce and Front Street..

Way to take one for the team, Daniel! :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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My husband and I went to lunch there today. We shared the chili, chicken legs, and a "pig out platter" (consisting of ribs, sausage, brisket and pulled pork) we ordered cole slaw and sweet potato fries as sides. Atmosphere was nice and the staff was attentive. All the food was good, nice and smokey but not overly so. I liked that the meats were not drenched in sauce (which was good because I did not care for the BBQ sauce, it was a little too sweet for me).

If I had to put the items in order of what we liked best to OK

Chicken

Chili

sausage/ribs

brisket/pulled pork

Next time we go back we will try the beef ribs.

Oh and you just gotta love a place that has Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap :)

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I'm so glad I finally get to start really posting on the Jersey board! For the six years we have been here, we've been carless commuters into manhattan so needless to say our exploration of jersey didn't really take us much further than downtown Jersey City and Hoboken. Now we have a house in Bayonne and a car for exploring when we don't feel like going into the city!!

I promise this is a relevant post :rolleyes: Hub and I went to Front Street last night. I made the mistake of following mapquest directions and we got a little lost...first we missed Bayside and ended up in Staten Island and then we found bayside which was rerouted or something and ended up the going the long way around to get to Front Street.

However it was SO WORTH IT!

We shared the collossal onion and the pig out platter. Unless I missed it, I don't think the onion has been reviewed. It is fantastic much to hub's delight...perfectly seasoned batter fried up crispy with a kicking horseradish sauce. YUM.

Our pig out platter consisted of the baby back ribs with brisket, pulled pork and sausage. I LOVED the barbecue sauce...its like vinegary sour and honey (maple?)sweet at the same time. I kept pouring little pools of sauce to dip forkfuls of meat into :wub::wub: The pulled pork was tender, the brisket was wonderfully smoky and the sausage :wub: ...fantastic. Our sides were the sweet potato fries (which I thought were crispy) and the black beans which were delicious.

Next time I want to try the chili and the pulled pork quesadilla.

We met Phil who is a very sweet guy and gracious host. The bartender seemed a tad surly but the waitress made up for it.

oh and the pigtini isn't bad either :raz:

off to hunt for more jersey good eats!

JeAnne

Xander: How exactly do you make cereal?

Buffy: Ah. You put the box near the milk. I saw it on the Food Channel.

-BtVS

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ps Phil mentioned that they plan to have an outdoor patio this summer and they are expanding and renovating the second floor which should be open for dining in the fall :smile:

Xander: How exactly do you make cereal?

Buffy: Ah. You put the box near the milk. I saw it on the Food Channel.

-BtVS

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I am glad you guys liked it.. I also wanted to address the sweet potato fries.. The reason why the reviewer stated that the fries were soggy was because he ordered take out..

What reviewer goes to restaurant and orders take out? The guy is so busy he cant sit at a restaurant and eat? I find that totally unprofessional and cant believe he didnt disclose that in his review.. What an ass.. How can someone get an honest feel for a restaurant by getting it to go? And then he has the balls to say the fries were soggy after they were sitting in a styrofoam box for an undisclosed amount of time? Thats like a guy complaining that his soup was cold after he decided to let it sit out for a few hours..

Has anyone ever ordered french fries, kept them in a box for a half hour and had them come out crispy.. What a joke!

Edited by Daniel (log)
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i don't think you can know that for sure, can you? i mean, how can you know that he didn't have the fries some other time as well?

as i said above, i didn't find that they were exactly "crispy." i can see how limp might happen here or there. but then that goes back to the old question of "how many times should a reviewer try a place before reviewing." if he only tried it once, take-out or not, that's probably not fair. if he was only spotted once by the staff (who seems to somehow know under what circumstances at least one of his meals was ordered), then you really don't know how many times he was there or under what other circumstances.

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I think one of the Bruce's should answer this.. But from what I believe, he introduced himself, spoke with them for awhile and then ordered it to go.. Shortly after, the review came out..

Edited by Daniel (log)
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Just as a side note... The secret to good take out fries comes from a Portuguese BBQ I've long since forgotten. I ordered fries one time and they came in a separate tin (away from the rice and the chicken) with "holes" poked in the top (maybe 8-10 about the size of a pinkie fingernail but three sided so the "nail" was still attached ). I thought it looked goofy and couldn't figure out what the place was doing. I'm thinking "My fries are gonna get cold!" Then I tried the fries. While they weren't fresh from the fryer like at a restaurant, they survived the 20 minutes it took till I got home in considerably better condition than any other fries I've had. The key is to package with the fries on top of something hot. As long as they're warm and the steam has somewhere to go besides into the fries they should be acceptable. Mc Donald's and Burger King serve their fries in a "sleeve" with good reason.

I've had the fries three times, twice in the restaurant and once for takeout. One time they were excellent in store another average in store and for takeout they were, I'm sorry to say, not very good. They were in a container with the meat and they sucked up all the moisture from the meat. I don't know what techniques could be followed to produce the "excellent" ones, but if Bruce ever nails it down with consistent results he'll have a unique item that will draw repeat business. I think consistent sides are huge for any serious BBQ place. People in NJ aren't too tuned into the meat, but if you can make a kid smile with some sides, parents will bring them back. I'd say it's almost easier to get away with mediocre meat and awe inspiring sides than the other way around.

It baffles me that a reveiwer wouldn't even sit down in the restaurant to do his job. That's pretty low, if true. No restaurant can show their best after a trip in the car. I would never expect take out to be as good of an experience as a sit down meal. At the very least the reviewer should disclose that information.

Edited by titmfatied (log)
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What reviewer goes to restaurant and orders take out?  The guy is so busy he cant sit at a restaurant and eat?  I find that totally unprofessional and cant believe he didnt disclose that in his review.. What an ass.. How can someone get an honest feel for a restaurant by getting it to go?  And then he has the balls to say the fries were soggy after they were sitting in a styrofoam box for an undisclosed amount of time?  Thats like a guy complaining that his soup was cold after he decided to let it sit out for a few hours..

Daniel I think you've gotten to close to the subject here to be objective. First, you attack a guy up thread because he didn't like the food as much as you thought he should. Now you go after the Star Ledger reviewer without knowing for sure how many times he visited the restaurant.

I've been to Front St. twice and had a good experience both times. I'd emphasize experience here because each time some of the food has been less than great. The BBQ itself has always been good but the side items need some work. I think Bruce will iron out the kinks over time and he's the kind of restaurant owner who really wants to please his customers. I think Bruce and his wife being such good hosts is reason enough to keep coming back but it wouldn't surprise me if the guy from the munchmobile got soggy sweet potato fries even when he ate in the restaurant.

So take a deep breath and try to talk up the positive things about Front St. and stop worrying if everyone doesn't share whole heartedly in your enthusiasm.

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