Striking Gold in Beantown
The inspiration to visit Blue Ribbon Barbecue was born about two weeks ago, when Jesse was sitting in Razor’s Barbershop in Somerville, getting the freshest of cuts from Drew, a bona fide magician with clippers. The topic of the local gastronomic scene came up in conversation, specifically the dearth of quality barbecue joints in the Boston-Cambridge area. If you’re a card-carrying carnivore, you’re probably aware of the problem, as a hankering for umami frequently goes unsatisfied in a city better known for calzones and lobster rolls. There’s Redbones in Davis Square, of course, which boasts packed dining rooms and long wait times every Friday and Saturday night, but any local will tell you that Redbones has gone downhill in the last few years. We sadly concur; the brisket is a little too dry, the baked beans a little too sweet, and the atmosphere a little too self-congratulatory, like an exclusive party where everyone is just happy to be there. Drew was aware of Redbones’ decline, and was ready with an alternative: Blue Ribbon in Arlington, just north of Cambridge. How does one get to Blue Ribbon, you may ask? Simple: Take the 77 bus north along Mass Ave almost to the end of the line. Hop out by the Stop and Shop, and there you are in slow-roasted heaven. Looking on a map, you’re probably further north than you’ve ever been in Boston, but at Blue Ribbon, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a little pocket of the Deep South.
If you happen to be a fan of the tuba, you’ll love Bronwyn. The instrument features heavily in the house band at this trendy, German-themed gastropub, belching out a seemingly endless stream of what one can only assume were chart-toppers in 19th century Bavaria. From your seats in the teeming main dining room, you can’t make out the rest of the band, but judging from the trio of feathered fedoras bopping rhythmically, you conclude that it’s a three-piece: drums, piano, and tuba. Everyone in that dining room knows who the star is, though. Occasionally the drummer goes rogue, kicking off a new song with a funky, modern beat, and the room’s collective ear perks up, but along comes the tuba every time, restoring a festive order to the proceedings.