Sturbridge, MA seems a little out of the way for a lot of people to drum up a reason to go there other than to visit Sturbridge Village, a “living museum” of New England in the 1830’s. As it turns out there is another reason to head out to Sturbridge (or stay there if you’re from there) and it’s BT’s Smokehouse.
My first experience with B.T.’s occurred at a Spring Beer and BBQ Fest in Somerville, MA where B.T.’s had a tent as a vendor. I tried their brisket sandwich and knew that not only did I find something special, but I was hooked.
392 Main St.
Sturbridge, MA 01566
Service and Atmosphere
B.T.’s is located off of a busy street and right next to a gas station. At first glance, people who don’t know any better might not think much of B.T.’s petroleum proximity, but my experience is that some of the best barbecue comes from surprising locations.
The interior of B.T.’s is warm with earth tones, the smell of delicious smoke, and full of patrons around dinner time. The people working at B.T.’s are friendly, helpful, and their ordering system somehow works out. You wait in line a while to order food and by the time your food comes out, a table usually frees up. I don’t know why it works, but somehow it does. My point is that it is worth the wait.
The obvious purchase at B.T.’s Smokehouse are the delicious smoked meats. In particular, the brisket is what B.T.’s is known for, but many of the customers also swear by the beef ribs. Even the infamous Chef Gordon Ramsay goes to B.T.’s because their brisket is so good (high praise!).
Brisket – This is the reason to go to B.T.’s. You can get the brisket in a sandwich or on a plate with a bunch of other sides. By itself, the brisket is deliciously rich, very smoky, and full of peppery flavor. In a sandwich, it is absolutely sublime because the neutral flavor of the bread soaks up the juices and offsets some of the richness of the brisket.
You don’t even need any sauce, but if you do want some, B.T.’s offers a variety of thin-style homemade sauces that add moisture to the meat without adding a cloying amount of sugar. My favorite might be their mustard-based sauce.
Personally, after trying the brisket on a plate and as a sandwich, I think I would go for the sandwich every time just for the balance of flavors.
Smoked Chicken – The chicken at B.T.’s is definitely good, but it’s more like pulled chicken rather than chopped chicken. It really comes down to personal preference, but I like my pork pulled and my chicken chopped. Regardless, if you’re looking for a “lighter” barbecue option, the chicken is a good choice with light smoky flavor.
Pulled Pork – The pulled pork is very good in that it is rich, fatty, juicy, and the smoke content isn’t overpowering. Too much smoke in pork can make it just taste like ham, but B.T.’s strikes a good balance. Try the pork along with some coleslaw for a nice combination that breaks up the richness of the meat.
Side Dishes – The cornbread is baked in small, dense, individual servings. It’s on the drier side of cornbread, but it still tastes good. The baked beans are molasses heavy and made with black beans instead of the usual pinto or navy beans. The black beans are a nice change from the usual and for people that enjoy baked beans on the sweet side, these are in that category. The coleslaw isn’t the greatest coleslaw out there, but the vinegary quality helps to cut through the fat of some of the meats, which is probably the point. The cucumber salad is well balanced with sweet and savory flavors, while the potato salad is pretty excellent overall.
B.T.’s Smokehouse is one of the best (if not THE best) that Massachusetts has to offer in terms of BBQ. The people at B.T.’s know the secret to barbecue (i.e. simplicity and time) and we’re fortunate enough that they share it with us. I highly recommend a visit to B.T.’s for excellent BBQ in a region that often struggles to find its Southern-influenced voice. Personally, I can’t wait to go back.