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April 12th, 2004

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01:53 pm - Holy Smokes
The little tiny Lutheran church on Routes 5/10 in Hatfield (next to the lumber store that used to be Grossman's) is no longer a church. Apparently fellowship was dwindling and the remaining Lutherans decided they could no longer sustain a congregation, so they moved on to another church in another town.

So the building was turned into a restaurant. A barbecue joint. It opened this Saturday; we went last night for Easter dinner.

It's called "Holy Smokes."

The dining room is the old church sanctuary, though they took out the altar to comply with ADA regulations. The original pulpit is now the maitre'd station (if they had a maitre'd, which they don't, but you know what I mean.) The pews were kept for seating and the stained-glass windows were also kept. They painted the interior a nice peach color with a sky blue ceiling, now adorned with several flying pigs. Pigs is the motif, for Holy Smokes' specialty is pork ribs.

And oh them ribs was good. One of the owners took us downstairs after dinner to show us the church basement, now entirely converted into a kitchen with an indoor whole hog roaster ("probably the only whole hog roaster in use indoors," he said. "Every other place that has one, I think they keep 'em outside") and a brick oven that stays around 800-1000 degrees, and, off to one side, a giant Southern Pride slow smoker.

Holy Smokes' philosophy is to smoke the meat "slow and low", which means several hours at 210 degrees. Upon ordering your ribs, they're coated with the sauce of your choice and flashed briefly in the 800-1000 degree oven to get the sauce to caramelize a bit, then served up nice and hot. The result was really really really really really good ribs. The meat came right off the bone but didn't just disintegrate with the slightest touch, and it was all so damn juicy and tender. The mild sauce was sweet and good, and their hot sauce, though slightly unorthodox in its use of chipolte peppers, started sweet and had a great slow burn to it. If the only ribs you've known have come from Redbones, I feel sorry for you. (Redbones' specialty is chicken and maybe the brisket, but their ribs are always overcooked.)

I hope this restaurant does well enough to stay in business until at least the next time I visit Hatfield. It's unique enough that it deserves all the goodwill that comes its way. Oh, and while they don't actually have soda, which is really weird, there's free refills on the unsweetened iced tea. In fact, the waitress just left us the pitcher. Beverage Boy approves.

I have 1/5 of a rack left. In this little bag here. With some cornbread and mac 'n cheese. Pardon me while I have the best lunch I've had in a long time.

(10 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:April 12th, 2004 11:25 am (UTC)
If they last long enough, I will try it next time we are back. Sounds interesting. The place we go here used to be a supermarket back in the day... not quite as cool as eating in an old church.

I have to tell you that Bub's Bar-B-Q was a huge disappointment after I had the real stuff out here. I think they just use Heinz.
[User Picture]
Date:April 12th, 2004 11:35 am (UTC)
Bub's is a good roadhouse and the barbecue there is okay, but nothing to write home about (HI MOM I WENT TO BUBS, MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW.) Their fixins are good, though. Always was very fond of their dirty rice 'n beans.

The best non-rib barbecue west of Worcester (but east of Albany) still is Curtis' BBQ up in Putney, run between Memorial and Labor Day out of two blue schoolbuses. Always a treat to get up there on a nice summer evening and eat chicken 'n pulled pork 'n baked potatoes on picnic tables while Curtis runs the pit behind the buses.
[User Picture]
Date:April 12th, 2004 11:37 am (UTC)
Where is that? I've been to Putney a lot (had step-grandparents there for a while), and I've never seen it.
[User Picture]
Date:April 12th, 2004 11:49 am (UTC)
Thanks! Now I'm hungry! :)

Hey, could you e-mail me your contact info (address, phone, etc.) at tikva@pobox.com, so I can use you as a reference for when the federal spooks come check me out? :) Thanks.
[User Picture]
Date:April 12th, 2004 12:46 pm (UTC)
Yum! Sounds like a neat place. I'll have to have you take me to it whenever I come out there.
[User Picture]
Date:April 12th, 2004 06:26 pm (UTC)
Arrgh! My vegan side is in agony but my atheist side is in ecstasy! The pain, the pain!
Date:April 13th, 2004 05:45 am (UTC)
Serious question: is BBQ not as prevalent in New England as it is in the south? I admit to not having really paid attention to that while I lived there. Redbones was good enough for me when I got that craving. Your take on their ribs matches my one experience with them. I had just kind of assumed I'd got a bad batch.
[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2004 03:58 pm (UTC)
Hatfield? Where is that, anyway?
It almost makes me want to fly back to the States, reading that.
Oh, and I sometimes think that it would be great to open a proper American-style rib BBQ restaurant here, because in Czech they love anything American and anything from a pig. Would do better outside the capital. Near one of the Western saloons, where they play both kinds of music and all the men inside are dressed in ten gallon hats and chaps.
[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2004 08:20 pm (UTC)
Hatfield's a small town in Western Massachusetts. Right along the Connecticut River, next to Northampton (home of Smith College) and Whately (home of a big milk bottle and the Fillin' Station diner.) One of the towns I consider myself to have grown up in, having ties there for almost 20 years now.

I think a proper southern roadhouse restaurant abroad would be interesting, even if it clashed with the Texas cowboy stereotype that seems to be prevalent in Europe. Wonder what they'd think of hush puppies, collard greens and Moon Pies.
[User Picture]
Date:April 18th, 2004 11:30 am (UTC)
If my understanding of Moon Pies is correct (marshmallow sandwiched between two cookie things, and the whole covered in dubious chocolate), they are sold in the UK under the name Wagon Wheels.

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