Localfolk Smokehouse, 9 Route 17, Waitsfield, 496-5623
I will travel for ribs. A two hour jaunt for pit-smoked meat at Curtis' BBQ in Putney? No biggie. That's why it's a surprise — even to me — that it took me until this weekend to make it to Waitsfield's Localfolk Smokehouse.
The building is a wooden barn with a high ceiling. A moose head wearing an orange top hat hangs near the bar. Even the bathrooms have a unique ambiance, with swinging barn doors and walls painted to resemble a purple-tinged, full-moon-lightened night in Vermont.
The barbecue menu offers three meats — ribs, pulled pork and chicken — all available in small, medium or large sizes. I ordered a medium rib plate and a combo plate with the pulled pork and chicken. Each came with a choice of two sides. Perhaps I made poor choices. Or perhaps the cooks are too focused on flesh.
Some mouthfuls of mac 'n' cheese were sophisticatedly cheesy (I think I detected hints of Gruyère) others tasted bare. I was excited to see the giant wad of cornbread that came with my ribs. Unfortunately, it was almost inedibly dry. Coleslaw was bland. Luckily, the baked beans helped redeem the sides. Stewed in a beer-based sauce, they didn't have the excessive sweetness that often ruins the dish for me.
Most of the meat matched the beans in quality. The St. Louis-style ribs might not have passed Kansas City Barbecue Society muster, but they were close. The meat clung lightly to the bone, but fell apart in my mouth. The rich, tomato-based sauce had a mix of mild spices that combined wonderfully with the melting pork fat. The chunky pulled pork was terrifically moist, drenched in a vinegary sauce that varied greatly from the one on the ribs, and amplified the juicy meat's natural attributes. Though tasty, the slightly dry quarter chicken couldn't compare to the pork.
The dessert menu was limited, but freshly baked chocolate chip cookies served with vanilla ice cream paired nicely with the satellite radio Grateful Dead channel and a stomach full of hog flesh.