The Fenway's Sweet Cheeks Q by Tiffani Faison of Top Chef fame was the most anticipated opening of the fall and the buzz shows no signs of fizzling. The combination of a TV star chef and national obsessions with pork, smoke, and rootsy, American food and drink have made Sweet Cheeks a truly of-the-moment eatery. Yes Boston already has good barbecue, but not in this part of town, and not with this kind of backing. This week the restaurant hit the one month mark and several different publications weighed in, but is the talk all good?
The Good News: Today's Herald gushes about the "amazingly tender and intoxicatingly smoky" brisket and calls it "the best I've ever had." The paper reports that the restaurant successfully "blends an upscale urban vibe with casual down-home cooking," praises the "decadent," butter-laden biscuits, "creative" cocktails like the bourbon spiked Damn Yankee and the "extensive" beer list. They note that the restaurant is packed on a Saturday afternoon and dub the venture "a winning recipe." [Boston Herald]
More Good News: BostonZest tries the pork ribs and declares "Ahhhhh! Smoky, sweet, salty, pork candy." They describe the food as "phenomenal," the service as"fantastic" and conclude "This is our kind of place." [BZ]
The Not So Good News: Pigtrip opens its first assessment with an ambivalent placement of Sweet Cheeks in the local hierarchy: "Are they the best barbecue joint in Boston? Who knows." After subsequent trips, the site has more to say, and though it approves, not all feedback is positive. The post notes that "flavor runs up and down" and that apps such as underseasoned okra and dry hush puppies "have mostly disappointed." PT also notes that not everything they had expected is available. "Hot links, another staple of Texas 'cue are still planned for the future. The Delmonico steak featured in the Boston Globe preview is not on the menu, at least not yet." [PigTrip]
The Bad News: The biggest beef with Sweet Cheeks is its price, specifically in relation to the size of its dishes. Nowhere is this sentiment more common than on Yelp, where one Yelper calls the prices "outrageous" and "obscene" and says "I'm wondering how inclined people will be to return if prices remain this high." Another otherwise positive review states "my one criticism would be that there was definitely not enough of it for the price" and another weighs in saying "I would have given Sweet Cheeks a five star rating if it wasn't for the price." [Yelp]
The Bad For Yo Mama News: The Dig reports that the turkey legs, short ribs and pulled pork "taste so good, they make you wanna slap yo mama". [BostonDig]
The Great News: Boston has a new barbecue restaurant, it's downtown, it's as good as Redbones, Soulfire, or Blue Ribbon if not better, and it's of a different, hipper breed than the rest. Comparisons to NYC are inevitable. PigTrip says "it's definitely the most New York of all the Boston barbecue restaurants" and one Yelper draws a backhandedly complimentary parallel to New York's Fette Sau, saying "hopefully this little dweeb will grow up to kick it's big brother's New York butt." [PigTrip, Yelp]