Chef Chris Thompson loves barbecue.
Chris Thompson – Chef/Owner, Blackstrap BBQ: “Ribs. Brisket. Pulled Pork.”
And he loves the feelings that come along with barbecue.
Chris Thompson – Chef/Owner, Blackstrap BBQ: “Community, togetherness, friendliness. That’s what BBQ is to me.”
And those good vibes and great food are what you’ll find at Blackstrap BBQ. Located in right in the center of Winthrop, Massachusetts, Blackstrap BBQ is the kind of place the locals love, for the awesome food, and laid back attitude.
Chris Thompson – Chef/Owner, Blackstrap BBQ: “The music’s too loud, the staff’s too friendly, everything has a great energy. We’ve tried to generate a place that feels warm and cozy, a little bit rock and roll and a whole lot of barbecue.”
The centerpiece of this cozy U-Shaped space is a large bar that’s always busy, inside a dining room that’s filled with plenty of deep rich woods, reclaimed décor, and industrial inspired lights. While back in the kitchen, everything centers around the smoker.
Chris Thompson – Chef/Owner, Blackstrap BBQ: “What’s cool about the Blackstrap BBQ is in the middle of my kitchen I have a gigantic smoker right in the center, on the line. Look at these chicken wings. Ribs. Jerk Chicken doing its thing. It’s a cool machine. It’s one of my favorites, and I’ve worked with a lot of different smokers, but this one the way the barbecue comes out, it’s great.”
Chris uses local hickory and cherry woods, imparting just the right amount of smoke.
Chris Thompson – Chef/Owner, Blackstrap BBQ: “We’ve been able to create a good delicate balance of smoke, nothing overly smoky, you don’t want the smoke to overpower the meat itself and I think we’ve created that great balance.”
When it comes to the type of barbecue smoked at Blackstrap, Chris loves having the freedom to not be stuck serving any one particular style.
Chris Thompson – Chef/Owner, Blackstrap BBQ: “What’s interesting about being in New England is we’re not forced into a specific barbecue style. We can take a little bit from here little bit from there make it our own, and no one’s getting mad at us for doing it.”
So the ribs, brisket, and pulled pork are each made in different styles, from different barbecue hot spots around the country.
Chris Thompson – Chef/Owner, Blackstrap BBQ: “We do a Memphis style dry rub rib. We smoked those four to six hours. I like the meat not to fall off the bone. I like a little toothsome, you know, something to bite into. I don’t want it to fall apart. A fall apart bone, that’s an overcooked rib. Brisket we serve Texas style. We cook it anywhere between 10 and 16 hours until it’s jiggly and awesome. We slice it really thin, perfect crust, perfect smoke ring, a great balance of juiciness and tenderness. It’s a it’s an awesome dish. Pulled Pork is an eastern North Carolina style pulled pork, it’s a vinegar based sauce. North Carolina was settled by the Spanish so the Spanish they love their pork with chili and they love it with vinegar. And that’s what we’ve brought here.”
Chris has also brought his A game when it comes to Blackstrap’s sides.
Chris Thompson – Chef/Owner, Blackstrap BBQ: “What I’ve noticed in my travels and eating a lot of barbecue is sides get forgotten. Here at the Blackstrap BBQ, our sides are phenomenal. From the corn and bacon salad made with fresh corn shaved off the cob. Asian coleslaw. Mac and Cheese, probably the best recipe I’ve ever eaten.”
But the one side you really need to try is the Maple Sweet Mash, made with Real Vermont Maple Syrup, courtesy of Chris’ Uncle.
Chris Thompson – Chef/Owner, Blackstrap BBQ: “I collect my maple syrup from my Uncle Jim who has a sugar bush in Hancock, Vermont. He taps his own trees. He boils it out. It’s fresh maple syrup straight from Vermont. You can’t mess with that. So we cook our Maple Sweet Mash with a little bit of maple syrup in the cooking process and we got to finish with just a couple of dabs bring up that sweetness a little bit.
There’s plenty more at Blackstrap than just barbecue. Appetizers include flaky Buttermilk Biscuits, Donut Holes with bacon dust and cider-orange sauce, sweet and sticky Hoisin Glazed Ribs, and believe it or not, an outstanding Ginger Scallion Lo Mein.
Chris Thompson – Chef/Owner, Blackstrap BBQ: “I’ve had ginger scallion lo mein at countless places and it’s never right. And it’s like, why don’t I do a ginger scallion lo mein at the restaurant, and give people that real authentic herbaceous lo mein. We use smoked brisket, we use a little bit of Thai Basil, a little mint, a little cilantro, some scallions, hit it with some cashews, I think you got a perfect dish.”
But if wings are your thing, Chris knows you will not be disappointed with the ones coming out of his kitchen.
Chris Thompson – Chef/Owner, Blackstrap BBQ: “I gotta say Blackstrap BBQ chicken wings, best in the whole wide world. We put so much work into them, we brine them for 24 hours, we smoke them, we fry them, we toss them in homemade sauces, people line up out the door, it’s hard to keep them in the house. It’s awesome.”
Rounding out the menu are some awesome sandwiches, like a Fried Chicken BLT, a smoked and grilled Meatloaf you can top with an egg, mac and cheese, and pulled pork, for an over the top experience, and a classic Smoked Pastrami Reuben with Swiss, sauerkraut, and Russian, on rye.
Chris Thompson – Chef/Owner, Blackstrap BBQ: “What I decided to do with our Reuben is keep it simple, don’t change the recipe, it is what it is, you know, just make it better than everybody else.”
And from Barbecue, to Lo Mein, to a Reuben, that’s exactly what they do at Blackstrap BBQ.
Chris Thompson – Chef/Owner, Blackstrap BBQ: “We know that we’re a little more inventive than just traditional barbecue. We work together as a group in the kitchen to come up with some really cool ideas, the staff’s awesome, the food’s bananas good, it’s a good spot.”