B.T. Smokehouse, Sturbridge. Victim of its own sucess?

While I did not ever eat at the original Brimfield smoker, I was an early adopter ( 2009) and passionate supporter of Brian’s barbeque. I have touted it here and on that other site we all used to go to.

I used to sit at the counter and bullshit about BBQ for an hour or so while they served up what I still consider the best brisket in the Northeast. Sometimes a “try this!” sausage or some free corn salad or hush puppies would arrive unbidden. It was a blast, and easy, and there was beer right down the street, ( Yankee Spirits) so you could order, go there for cold beer and by the time you got back your order was up. There was parking and everybody seemed to enjoy themselves.
I told everyone I knew that I thought it was exemplary.

But I guess that comes with a price.

I stopped on my way to Albany yesterday to find every parking space taken, every seat inside occupied and at least, 20 people waiting to order. The staff was working their asses off but was hardly available for banter.

At 2:30. On a wednesday afternoon. Middle of the week.

I tried to think back on my last few trips there and realized most of the time, I order and pay online, with a specific pick-up time ( which I recommend highly now) , duck in , bypass the line ( which gets me some dirty looks but fuck 'em) and bolt. The lines have been at least as bad and one friday on my way to Vermont, there were at minimum a half a dozen people waiting outside the door JUST TO GET IN TO ORDER.

When did this place become Franklin Barbeque?!?

Obviously when I wasnt looking.

Look, I think that Brian deserves all the success that the business can take. He believed that a REAL BBQ place would catch on in the Northeast and did the heavy lifting to make sure it did. But im not sure its great for the product.

The pork ( never their strong suit) has been mediocre in my last few visits. I experienced the same drop off in quality years ago when Blue Ribbon in West Newton stopped smoking onsite after they were unable to meet demand.
Maybe its just volume.
Maybe its just me.
At 60 my capacity for the fat load required to wade through a BBQ joints menu is much more limited.

So, while recommending B.T. Smokehouse, if one is travelling West on I-90, I would order ahead online and take it with you to your destination.

Otherwise you might not get in.

It’s been getting steadily busier for at least the past 5 years. First I used to avoid it at peak hours, then I stopped eating in or stopping at all if I had my (impatient) kids with me, now I always order online and pay ahead. I am always unclear as to the line etiquette as there is only one register. I usually play dumb and tell one of the people delivering orders over the deli case that I am picking up take out which is paid for and they gladly grab the bag with a paid receipt.

Yes, the days of lingering over a brisket reuben at the counter while shooting the shit seem to be long gone even at off hours, and that parking lot is a shit show (it’s actually easier to park at the gas station and walk around the front of the building). I stopped on the way home from CT at 4p on Wed last week and it was packed. The good news is that the bbq (brisket, st. louis ribs, smoked chicken) I brought home was as good as ever. Though the brisket is always better eaten in house…

I still think that brisket reuben is the best sandwich in Massachusetts.

That said, I blew off the line and stopped in West Springfield to go to White Hut.

I havent been there in 20 years and aside from the cost, it is almost exactly the same.
Including, the banter, the guys on break smoking outside, and the guy beside me ordering:

" two single cheeseburgers, with tomato, fries, two chocolate milk and two regular milks. And cook the fries a little more than you are supposed to."

God, I love professionals.

Never tried White Hut. I will need to check it out on my next trip through. Though that will violate one of the planks of my party platform that specify’s spending as little time in Springfiled as possible.

love that place. are there still no seats? is there still sawdust on the floor?

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold