Walking into the foyer of Sweet Cheeks I’m hit with an overwhelming aroma of smokey BBQ. Enter into the actual restaurant and the smell matches the visual of a down to earth, casual eatery with family style tables. There’s a bar with a few flat screens (we’re in Fenway after all), low and high top communal tables as well as private tables of 4. We’re led to one of the long picnic-like tables and I’m thankful we we’re seated in actual chairs rather than benches. The table consists of 3 jars of varying sauces (BBQ sauce, sweet sauce, and hot sauce), tins of napkins and silverware, and 3 Mason jar water glasses. Behind me stacks of chopped wood line the wall, I assume not just for décor but for actually cooking the meat, chicken, pork and ribs. I’ve certainly had barbecue in the past but I was not prepared for this authentic Texas-style BBQ meal that was about to go down.
Bread: If you plan on ordering a full tray or sandwich with 2 side scoops, then trust me, you’ll be glad they don’t serve bread. But you certainly can’t leave Sweet Cheeks without trying their Bucket o’ Biscuits served in a cylindrical tin with a side of Honey Butter. I could have easily split 1 biscuit with someone as these were the largest biscuits I’ve ever seen! Warm and doughy on the inside with just enough crunch on the outside. They were really incredible and went so well with the sweetened butter.
Menu: When it comes down to business you’re ordering Pork, Ribs, Turkey, Chicken, or Brisket. The menu is divided by: Trays, By the LBs, Onsies, Biscuits, Hot & Crispy (sides), Cold Scoops, Hot Scoops, Sandwiches, The Big Rig (for large parties), More Sweet Less Cheek (dessert). To get your moneys worth you essentially want to pick a main meat (in tray or sandwich form) and 2 scoops. No matter what you order you’re probably going to leave full and satisfied.
Pulled Pork Sandwich with Mac n’ Cheese (hot scoop) and Farm Salad (cold scoop)
The pork came thrown on to a bulkie roll with fixings of pickles and onions on the side. I decided to eat just the top of the roll (open-faced style) as I was still trying to digest the enormous biscuit. I poured on the sweet BBQ sauce (the best of the 3 sauces) and after discarding a few fatty pieces, topped it with pork, onions and pickles.
The mac n’ cheese hot scoop came in a deep mug topped with bread crumbs. The first few crunchy bites led to cheesier ones as you fork your way down into the mug. Just the right amount of each!
The farm salad consists of brussel sprouts, red grapes, farro, nuts, and shredded parmesan cheese. This was a welcomed light & refreshing taste among the hearty comfort food.
Bathroom: The corner wall leading up to the bathroom is lined with halved motor oil tin cans and a giant sign reading “King Edwards Cigars”. The women’s restroom pays homage to Dolly Parton with framed pictures, her “9 to 5” movie poster, a cherry apron, and … a sticker machine? I’m not sure how that fits into Texas/BBQ/Parton unless there’s a reference I’m completely missing! I now wonder who the men’s room salutes…
Service: Sweet Cheeks doesn’t take reservations for parties less than 8, but on a Monday at 6:30pm we were seated right away. As my friend and I were waiting for the 3rd member of our party the server checked on us a few times, offering water and drinks. The meals were brought before I was able to finish my biscuit, but I could have sat there all night with that monstrosity. At the end of the evening I left my Perfect Bite card with the check and Owner/Chef (and Top Chef alum) Tiffani Faison stopped by to shake our hands and introduce herself, making sure we enjoyed our night. I love that the owner/chef was so hands-on and actually present in the restaurant! It was great to meet Tiffani and let her know how great the food was. I was a fan of her South End restaurant Rocca which closed last year, so I’m happy to see that Sweet Cheeks is becoming a big success.
Overall: I adore the comfortable and casual environment of feeling like I’m dining in someone’s backyard (regardless of the lack of outdoor space). The exposed wooden ceiling and walls along with the wooden tables and chairs also give it a barn effect, with strings of light bulbs draped above across the wooden beams. The food was excellent and the portions were more than generous. While the menu isn’t that extensive it still offers a variety of options and combos. The prices are reasonable, especially when you consider the portion sizes; I took home 1 biscuit and ¾ of my mac n’ cheese, definitely getting my moneys worth. There was a great drink selection as well and my Heartless Jezebel cocktail was pretty good.
For more photos & descriptions of what everyone in my party ate, visit my Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/ThePerfectBiteBoston