Archive for August, 2011

Curtis’ BBQ – Putney, VT

Date Visited: Sunday July 31, 2011

For two summers I have heard about Curtis’ BBQ in VT.  And the recommendations all started the same: “If you’re looking for a nice to place to ride…” It seemed every suggestion came from a biker.  Do non-riders have some loathing to BBQ? Are bikers simply a better judge of meat cooking on an open fire? These would be wild claims at best. Perhaps the most obvious reason why is because of Curtis’ biker friendly reputation. On any given weekend in the spring, summer, or fall, Curtis’ is packed with motorcycles brandishing license plates throughout New England. On the day of my visit, there were well over a hundred bikes in the lot and only a handful of cars — heck, maybe those riding cages don’t have a hankering for BBQ like bikers do! But alas, I digress.

Pulling in to Curtis’, I began to question whether we rode north to Vermont or errantly deep into the south. The wide-open area featured a run down blue bus for ordering and food prep, and a covered fire pit for cooking. After parking, stretching, and gawking, I finally made the walk passed the open fire with meats strewn about (or more realistic, strategically placed). I was struck at this time by a very disheartening reality… I saw no brisket. Brisket was the one constant on my mind for the previous 3+ hours. More importantly, brisket is the item I use to judge all BBQ against each other. But a man must learn to adapt, and based on my near 300-pound frame, it is something I do very well.

The menu at Curtis’ was simple. Full, half, or medium slabs of ribs, and chicken. Sides included typical barbecue staples like beans, slaw, corn bread, and baked potatoes. Potato options included butter, loaded, or stuffed with one’s choice of chicken or pork. Sauce was also a simple choice: mild or spicy.

I decided on a medium rack comprised of 4 very large ribs , and a baked potato loaded with pork. I washed it down with a bottle of Curtis’ “very own” Vanilla Cream Soda. The total bill for the 3 items was $26 and change – cash only!

(ribs, potato and soda)

My first bite was the pork-loaded potato covered in spicy sauce. The pork was tender with a smoky flavor. The sauce was tangy, a red orange color, and had a medium consistency. I did not try the mild sauce, but the spicy sauce tasted like a hybrid of barbecue sauce and any store brought hot sauce such as Frank’s Red Hot or Texas Pete.  Don’t get me wrong, the sauce was still tasty and added a nice zing to the pork, but the same saucy results can be achieved at home with store bought ingredients.

The ribs too had a nice smoke to them, but they were tougher than those found at other barbecue joints.  Don’t expect the meat to “fall of the bone” and don’t expect your bones to be perfectly cleaned when you’re done eating; the ribs required some work but for the average eater that doesn’t mind a little fight with their food, the persistence paid off in the end as the flavor was present and the serving size was definitely satisfying.

And the Vanilla Cream Soda? It was a perfect combination of vanilla and cream, very good indeed! ‘Twas a bit expensive when you consider the price per bottle, but it seems par for the course with other “homemade” sodas found in restaurants. Worth noting, some of my fellow diners ordered the chick to split with their wives/girlfriends. Based on their praises it should be worth a taste on a future visit.

The atmosphere is awesome for what it is – and quite literally, it’s all atmosphere.  There is no inside at Curtis’, just the open air.  Umbrella covered picnic tables scatter the grounds, and there are many tables under a pavilion in case of inclement weather, or the baking sun (or anything in between). The aroma of fresh slabs of pork on an open fire filled the air as Curtis himself tended to the meats. Curtis’ pet pig roamed the pit area [please note, this is not to be confused with the fresh pork slabs mentioned above] providing bystanders that awkward realization that they were eating pork and staring at a live pig. Live music also added to the setting as one man played his acoustic and sang while his pet parrot perched beside him.

The short and skinny from the tall and fat… Curtis’ offers tasty BBQ, albeit a very limited menu, in what can only be called “as close to a deep south authentic locale without crossing the Mason-Dixon Line.” As an added bonus for the diner that takes his/her time eating, as if ribs and chicken aren’t enough, Curtis’ becomes not only an enjoyable lunch, but also a parade of bikes of all makes and models for one to peruse — not a bad way to occupy a few hours. I’m sure, at some point when the stomach grumbles, I will be making a trip back.

Contact info/Website:

Address: 7 Putney Landing Rd., Putney, VT

Hours: Thur-Sun 10am to dusk (seasonal)

Additional notes: Cash only.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.