South Shore BBQ Company
388 Medford Ave, Patchogue
(631) 654-2269, southshorebbq.com
The best barbeque I ever ate was in a former gas station in a depressed area of Alabama. Somehow outstanding BBQ and ignoble spots seem to go together. The newish (it opened in late March) South Shore BBQ Company in Patchogue isn’t a former gas station, nor is it in a downtrodden area, but it does capture the spirit of a rough and tumble roadhouse. This one-time sports bar is dominated by a large, central, V-shaped bar with a row of TVs above it. Most customers order at a counter up front, receive a table number and then have their dishes brought to them by a waiter.
Utensils come wrapped in paper napkins. Recordings of rip-roaring country and western songs fill the air. Beer, not wine, is the beverage of choice here and there are about 35 draft possibilities that come in 16- and 22-ounce mugs, but just a handful of wines. As is the tradition in the deep southern, non-alcoholic drinks are refilled at no additional charge. There are paper rolls and three sauces (BBQ, spicy BBQ and a vinegar-based Carolina red) on every table. No one goes to a countrified, down home spot like this expecting white glove service, don’t be surprised if you order apple pie and get pecan, if a dish ordered by another table is delivered to yours, or if some dishes you order never arrive. (We experienced all of these.)
Many BBQ aficionados will be familiar with Will Breakstone, the pit master at South Shore BBQ. Willie B is a BBQ lifer who owned Willie B’s in Bay Shore, presided over the smoker at Lily Flanagan’s in Islip and originated the barbeque benefit WilliePallooza. His menu is small, simple and straightforward: Six meat choices (brisket, pulled pork, Texas Hot link sausage, BBQ chicken and two BBQ ribs: Baby back or St. Louis) are offered in various combinations with one or two sides for between $12.50 and $32.95.
While the focus at South Shore is understandably on the slow smoked meat, there are a number of worthwhile appetizers and sides. Among the starters are tender rib tips that provide a low cost sample of the smoky entrée. The South Shore chili is slow cooked beef and brisket laced with shredded Jack cheese and a side of sour cream that will appeal to fans of bean-free chili ($5.95). The somewhat pricy BBQ stuffed potato with an over-the-top load of ingredients—pork, cheddar, sour cream, chives, BBQ sauce—tasted even better than it sounded ($9.95). For recommended sides, try the creamy, rich mac and cheese ($4.50), the deeply flavored pit smoked beans ($4.50), noteworthy, not-too-sweet cornbread ($2.95) and fresh, thin sliced coleslaw ($4.50).
BBQ chicken, a junior partner among the big beef and pork possibilities, is a prime piece here. The half bird is admirably seasoned, moist and alive with running juices ($11). The ribs, brisket, pulled pork and Texas hot links are predictable mainstays, but are also all they should be. The larger St. Louis-style ribs are meatier and tastier than the baby backs while the smaller Texas hot link is a spicy delight. Some of the BBQ meat had crusts that resulted in strips of meat peeling off and making it a bit difficult to eat slices or chunks.
There are only three dessert choices: Pecan or apple pie ($4.50) and a root beer float ($5). The individual circular apple pie, served warm, provided a fitting finale.
Photo by Pam Deutchman / thefphoto.com