Boston Restaurant Blog -- November, 2007
Monday, November 5, 2007
I am not a huge fan of BBQ, but I like it enough to realize that the Boston area is woefully short in good barbecue joints, especially compared with major cities in the Midwest and the South. There are a few I like, including Blue Ribbon BBQ in Arlington and Tennessee's in South Braintree, but it is definitely slim pickings when it comes to good BBQ around Boston. That is why I was excited when Lester's Roadside BBQ in Burlington opened up awhile ago. After going there twice, I would have to say that I consider it a step above most barbecue places in the Boston area, but perhaps not quite at the level of my two favorites above.
My most recent trip to Lester's Roadside BBQ was a few days ago. I was actually picking up food for a business lunch that included upwards of 30 people, so I knew I would be sampling several different dishes. I drove over to the place, which is rather plain standalone building that they have spruced up as much as they could (it looks like it may have been a fast-food joint before it became Lester's). One nice thing about Lester's is that they have curbside pickup, which really came in handy the other day, considering I needed to lug about 10 or 15 pounds of food. While I was there, I took a quick peek around (I had never actually been inside the place before). It was pretty nice, with old gas pumps and neon signs giving some flavor to the restaurant, and it seemed pretty clean and was well-lit (and also had an outdoor patio, which will definitely come in handy next summer).
The food from Lester's ranged from just ok to outstanding. On one end of the spectrum was the rather mushy, runny macaroni and cheese. I personally like my mac and cheese to be baked, with a clumpy quality to it; Lester's, unfortunately, was pretty much the opposite, though I realize that this is the traditional way of making macaroni and cheese in some parts of the country. The pulled pork didn't bowl me over, either, as it was tasty but absolutely swimming in grease. I preferred the pulled chicken, which had little grease and a lot of flavor. The corn bread was terrific, with a moist, heavy consistency to it. But perhaps the best dish was the St. Louis dry rub ribs, which were tender without being overly so, were extremely lean, and tasted absolutely amazing with the variety of sauces they gave us.
So Lester's turned out to be a good choice (and a big hit among nearly all of the people at the business lunch). I'm still not convinced that it is up to the quality of some of the best BBQ joints in the Boston area (Blue Ribbon in particular), but it seems pretty close. I want to get back there to try some of the other dishes soon, including the chopped barbecue beef, the sliced brisket, and the chili. And who knows? If some of those items are as good as the ribs and pulled chicken, Lester's Blue Ribbon BBQ may be a featured place on Boston's Hidden Restaurants one of these days.
A few of us had lunch at Lester's this week, and it was a bit of a mixed bag. The blackened fried catfish sandwich was a big hit, but the collard greens were subpar and the macaroni and cheese was lukewarm with lumpy cheese that had an unpleasant taste. The chili wasn't bad (lots of beans and spicy heat), but it was rather watery--almost more like a soup. The corn bread was marvelous once again, as it was moist and rich-tasting. Service was a bit more reserved and distant than I'm used to at a BBQ joint (I prefer the always-humorous characters who work at Blue Ribbon in Arlington and Tennessee's in Braintree) and prices were about where I thought they should be for most of the dishes. I know a number of people who love Lester's, but I guess I'm not one of them; I do like some of their food, but definitely prefer the aforementioned Blue Bibbon and Tennessee's.
Posted on 9/16/10
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