Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sweet Cheeks! New BBQ in Boston

I figured my final topical post of 2011 should be a good one, and what better way to finish than with one of the more talked about restaurant openings - Sweet Cheeks.  Sweet Cheeks is the new restaurant from Tiffany Faison of Top Chef fame and formerly of Rocca.  When Rocca suddenly closed, the Boston food community was a little worried it may lose one of its newer celebrity chefs, but Tiffany quickly settled the matter by telling her public that she was already working on a new restaurant in Boston.  When it turned out to be BBQ I am sure I was not the only one who was super excited about having another reliable BBQ option in Boston. 

Outside Sweet Cheeks
When given the opportunity to taste Sweet Cheeks' offerings with some fellow bloggers and the great people over at Tasted Menu, I needed no arm twisting - I was in!  For those who don't remember, Tasted Menu is the new go-to website for finding what the best dishes are at a restaurant, or where the best place is to go get your favorite food.

When walking into Sweet Cheeks I was struck by how they have really created a great space that has southern/BBQ elements without being overly kitschy.  Really its just an easy place to hang out with a long bar and plenty of fun touches throughout.  After getting a drink at the bar with Tracey and Amanda, we were joined by Rachel, Alex and Dafne (both of Tasted Menu) and headed to our high top table (a re-purposed bowling alley floor!).  Having done a little reading prior to heading over, I knew that nothing was going to be what it seemed - a table is made from an old door or something else, but it's never just a straight table.  Further, there are no glasses or plates.  Instead, you feel like a City Slicker drinking from mason jars and what I like to call cowboy bowl/plates and mugs. 

When going to eat with the folks from Tasted Menu, they do not hold back since they really want to get a good understanding and sample of the menu to give the restaurant's Tasted Menu page a good jump.  Therefore, when ordering they go BIG, and it resulted in a whole lot of food for all of us to enjoy (and make room for on the table!)

To begin, we got the best biscuits ever - and when I say "ever" I mean it.  It is totally worth going to Sweet Cheeks for these alone!  They are huge, fluffy and just amazing!  Note that these are not available on their take out menu, so go in, grab a drink and order some food - these are worth it!

Biscuits from Heaven
For entrees, you actually pick out different components on a tray with a meat, and a couple of sides.  However, the sides are "Hot Scoops" and "Cold Scoops."  After reviewing the menu and debating my many choices, I decided to go with a simple Tray, rather than the Big Cheeks Tray - 2 meats, or the Fat Cheeks Tray - 3 meats!  With the tray you get one choice of meat, 1 hot scoop and 1 cold scoop with white bread, pickles and onions.

I chose the Berkshire Pork Ribs, which were fall off the bone delicious.  They were so flavorful, and some of the best ribs I have had on this side of the Mason Dixon line.  For a rib lover, these are delicious!  Trying to mix a little green into the meal I got the farm salad, which had a wonderful mix of greens, brussel sprouts and other goodness.  For the Hot Scoop I got the Mac and Cheese, which was actually a little lack luster.  It did not have that creamy cheesy taste and texture you want.  Instead it came across a bit plain.  While the trays come with white bread and pickles and onions I never made it to those.  The bread was nothing special and did not really beckon to be dipped in and sauce or anything - that was for the biscuits!

Some of the other Hot Scoops were brought to the table, so I sampled the collard greens, which were really tasty, though I am not a huge collards fan.

However, I loved the black-eyed peas, which turned out to be my favorite Hot Scoop!  They were flavorful and cooked with pork bits that really made each bite delicious.  I would highly recommend ordering these as your Hot Scoop.

Black Eyed Peas
Some of the other cold scoops include the potato salad and the carrot and raisin salad.  I must admit with the all the other food, I stuck to my farm salad and never made it to these...

Potato Salad
Carrot and Raisin Salad
Not to be confused with the Hot Scoops and Cold Scoops from above, you can order a couple of other sides, which are called Hot & Crispy (aka, deep fried amazingness!).  First in the long line was the fried green tomatoes.  My mind was at odds because I hate tomatoes, but these just looked to good!  Nick's voice in my head convinced me to at least sample them and they were great!  Crispy fried crust on the outside and bursts of sweetness on the inside. 

Fried Green Tomatoes
Next on tap was the Salt and Pepper Potatoes.  With these, there is no need for the fry form of potatoes.  This version more than satisfies any potato lover.  These taste like home fries and french fries got together and had a baby.

Salt and Pepper Potatoes
One of my favorites, much to my surprise, was the Fried Okra.  Typically I am not an okra fan - the taste always just seems off to me.  However, these really could have been a proper substitute for fries with their great crispy outer layer and the softer okra texture on the inside.  Even Tom Colicchio, a known okra hater, would like these!  

Fried Okra
The last, but certainly not the least, of the Hot & Crispy's were the Hush Puppies.  I mean, what good BBQ place would not serve these?!  Each had a great outer crusty layer and were soft on the inside - hush puppies done right. 

Hush Puppies
Turning away from the food a bit (crazy I know!), I must mention the amazing beer list at Sweet Cheeks.  They have more beers that most bars in Boston.  While they have the more traditional beers, they have a great selections of new beers to try (or at least new to me!).  For my first beer I had the Geary's seasonal beer, which was dark, rich and delicious (not pictured). For my second beer, I could not resist a can of beer called Pork Slap, so based on name alone this was my next drink.  Luckily it was tasty too.
Pork Slap
OK - back to food.  I know its hard to believe we even could think of going there, but we did - DESSERTS!  We ordered the butterscotch pudding, Giant Nutter Butter and the white trash fruit salad.  Not being a fan of the classic nutter butter candy bars I was skeptical, but homemade is definitely the way to go on these.  If you even kind of like the classic candy bar, do not hesitate and order this dessert. 

Pudding and nutter butter
Normally you think pudding is pudding and how could one be different than another.  I no longer think that after having the butterscotch pudding from Sweet Cheeks.  This stuff was unreal and capped off by bits of salt to even add that great contrast I love so much.  Even though we were sharing I think I had a bit more than my fair share of this dessert. 

Amazing Pudding!
Finally, I tasted the white trash fruit salad.  This is a super southern dessert I have seen while visiting my brother in Charlotte, but I just cannot get used to how sweet it is!  This salad proved to be just too much for me. 

White Trash Fruit Salad
Overall, I totally enjoyed my experience at Sweet Cheeks.  For being a new restaurant, they are a well oiled machine - no real kinks to figure out.  Most of the dishes came out really well.  In a BBQ place, the meat is really where its at, and the meat at Sweet Cheeks is cooked perfectly and super tasty.  With all the different options of sides there is something for everyone on this menu.  The price point is also pretty good - for under $20 you can get a tray, which is more than enough food to satisfy.  Between the yummy food and the fun atmosphere I would highly recommend taking a trip to this new addition to the Fenway area.   

Disclaimer: Tasted Menu paid for my meal, but my thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

Sweet Cheeks Q on Urbanspoon


  1. I am seriously drooling over all of the amazing side dishes. I can't wait to go to Sweet Cheeks.

  2. All these reviews of Sweet Cheeks has been craving BBQ majorly! Great post!

  3. Sweet Cheeks has really hit the ground running. I'm so impressed and happy for the top chef alum!! I am so bummed I missed this crazy meal. I must get over there soon!

  4. There's so much I want to try there, starting with those awesome biscuits.

  5. Awww I'm bummed I missed this! Great review. I love Tiffani Faison, and I will def plan on checking out Sweet Cheeks soon!

  6. No words to describe how awesome Sweet Cheeks was. Can't wait to go back!

  7. What a great night! It was so great to finally meet you and of course the food was outstanding!

  8. I've been hearing so much about this place - and it looks like they have plenty of delicious vegetarian options, too. I've got to check it out!

  9. I was supposed to go for dinner tonight but our plans fell through, so we may try to get there for lunch tomorrow. You may have swayed me to order the ribs. And those fried green tomatoes look awesome!


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