Monday, October 28, 2013

East Cambridge Rib Fest!

When I was invited back to judge the East Cambridge Business Association's "Smoke This" Rib Fest, I immediately agreed. After having such an amazing afternoon last year, I was eager to see what the chefs brought out this year. The goal again this year was to taste and photograph ALL of the rib offerings and try not to get sauce all over me. Once again it was a beautiful afternoon for this event, the streets were packed with people and the air was filled with sweet and smokey smell of BBQ.

Cambridge Street

The Line-Up for 2013 included:
  • New Deal
  • East Coast Grille
  • Tupelo
  • Trina's Starlight Lounge
  • Cambridge Rindge and Latin School
  • Filarmonica
  • Portugalia
  • East Side Bar & Grill
  • Ole
  • Area 4
  • Bambara
  • Puritan & Company
  • Atwood's
  • Champions
  • Abigail's
  • Redbones
  • Lord Hobo
While I know all of you readers will trust my vote implicitly, there were also public votes and professional chefs judging this competition, including Dan Souza, Senior Editor at Cooks Illustrated Magazine; Tyler Sundet of Hungry Mother and State Park (opening soon); and Nookie Postal, the Chef and Owner of Commonwealth (also opening soon).

Not to give away the ending before you see the photos, but Tupelo was my favorite rib this year! It was exactly what I look for when I order ribs - meaty, cooked perfectly, flavorful and a bit saucy. This rib had it all! My close second was the Area 4 rib - I loved their Asian flavors and thought the sesame seeds and green onion garnish were the perfect topper. Without further adieu...

My Favorite! Tupelo - St. Louis Ribs with Tupelo's Secret Sauce. The hint of what I think might have been
Chinese Five Spice power was great.
Racks of Tupelo Ribs!
East Coast Grille - Slow Smoked Dry Baby Back Ribs with Seasoned BBQ Sauce.
Great rib, but the sauce was a little too sweet for me
Molasses Glazed Ribs spiced with Cardamom and Cinnamon and a Scotch Bonnet BBQ Sauce and Cooling Salsa Verde. Nick liked the flavor, but I thought it was too tomatoey. The cold sauce on a hot rib was a bit jarring, but the flavors were spot-on.
Trina's Starlight Lounge - Honey Balsamic St. Louis Ribs over Fennel Apple Slaw.
Very Tender Rib with good flavor, and the slaw was a nice touch - refreshing after so much meat!
CRLS Culinary School - Sweet and Sour Chili.  This was a very well cooked rib with a nice sauce.
East Side Bar & Grill- Dry Rubbed St. Louis Rib Oak Smoked with a Tangy, Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce.
Nice smokey flavor, though the meat on my rib was a bit tough.
Ole - Costillas de Barbacoas Al Chipolte: BBQ Ribs in Peanut Chipotle Sauce with Corn Tomatillo Salsa and Homemade Tortillas.  Once again, a really fun combination of flavors! The hard part was having bone-in ribs in the middle of a taco, but once we figured out how to eat it, it was spicy and delicious!
So many parts on Ole's grill!
Bambara - Sweet & Sour Chili. Our meat was a little tough, but the sauce was flavorful with a great sweet/sour balance.
Area 4 - Hoisin Black Bean BBQ Sauce. As I said above, these were one of my other favorites.
The sauce was delicious, and I do love a purposeful garnish!
Puritan & Company - Moxie Glazed Lamb Ribs (LAMB!) I love the fact that they went the lamb route to try and mix things up from the competition. The sauce was great, but the rib itself was really fatty.
ARTBAR - Baby Back Ribs with Apple Cider BBQ Sauce. Great fall-inspired flavors, and the vinegar
had a nice bite that was perfect on the cool October day.
Abigail's - Memphis Style Dry Rubbed Ribs with Wicked Killer House BBQ Sauce.
Abigail's house BBQ sauce is pretty fantastic!
Lord Hobo - Kool Aid pickle!?! and Dry Rubbed Pork Ribs Smoked over Buffalo Trace and Cambridge Brewing Company Co. Barley Wine Barrel Chips. The Kool Aid pickle was pretty crazy!
The rib was nice, but I prefer my ribs to be a bit more sticky and saucy.
Lord Hobo - Grill Short Ribs on a Grilled Biscuit. Lord Hobo also had these mini sandwiches. I sort of liked this better than the rib - too bad it wasn't part of the competition. The biscuit was amazing!
In the end, the public and judges differed from me a bit. The public voted East Side Bar and Grille first, followed by Tupelo and then ArtBar. The judges chose Bambara, East Side Bar and Grille, Tupelo, and then CRLS.

Once again, I had an amazing afternoon over in East Cambridge enjoying so many of the fantastic restaurants that they have to offer. Being a huge rib lover in general, this is my type of event.

Thank you again to the East Cambridge Business Association for inviting me to attend this event!

While my admission to the event was free, my thoughts and opinions are my own.


  1. So many ribs!! That last sandwich looks best to me. I'm sure sampling was a ton of fun.

  2. This is an awesome recap! I was at the event mostly to work, but I did get a couple of delicious bites.

  3. Woah, those are a lot of ribs for one day, and I bet there was a fair amount to go around for everybody. Judging from the photos, those ribs seem very tasty and juicy, and I bet everyone had a great time that day. Anyway, thanks for sharing this with us. All the best!

    Hector Keller @ Shorty Small’s


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