No longer can the Fenway neighborhood boast only fare for the fans. Brats and beers are a bygone attraction of the area. Look out Sox fans and huddle up Boston foodies, Texan barbeque has marked its territory, and trust me, it’s something to cheer for.
Tiffany Faison, previous chef at the now closed South End trattoria Rocca, or perhaps better known for her second place position on Top Chef’s podium, is now the chef/owner of Sweet Cheeks Q, a not too, too upscale BBQ joint on the parameter of Boston’s Fenway neighborhood.
Sweet Cheeks Q puts an urban spin on Texas roadhouse fare—craft brews shimmy up against Pabst Blue Ribbon on the beer menu, while the traditional hush puppies and fried green tomatoes get a modern, luxurious bath of garlic and jalapeño aioli. The walls are made of a warmer-toned wood, which provide sleek lines to the large, open-concept dining room/bar/kitchen. Set in contrast to the lineation of the wood are miss-matched cabin-like armed chairs, some of which show off chipped paint and nicks to infer use and signify a homey comfort.
The Sweet Cheeks Q menus parallels the story of the restaurant’s atmosphere—creatively unique, yet comforting, simple, and familiar. Budweiser and Coors are listed beneath the all too cheeky label “lawnmower beers”, while you will find the craftier White Rascal and Brooklyn Lager winking beneath the label “nice cans”. And no doubt you cannot miss the smoky apple moonshine cocktail, a strong look at a southern libation. Drinks are served in Ball jars, evoking warm feelings of southern, summer porch relaxation.
Now down to the very essence of the place—the “Q”, the meat, the main event and sticky finger culprit. The meats, of which you can choose between the all-fantastic ribs, pork belly, pulled pork, brisket, or chicken, come by the pound and are in-house oak wood smoked. Accompaniments to the proteins are deemed “scoops”, designated by “hot” or “cold”. These meal rounders range from heirloom baked beans that are as smoky delicious as the meat itself, to the collard greens of which a friend mentioned were the only comparison he had yet found to his southern grandmother’s, to a brussell sprout farm salad (a carry-over from Rocca), and a mighty, creamy coleslaw.
The food, served on parchment-line baking sheets and in camping mugs and saucers, is not glamorous. But it’s not supposed to be. The chow chirps for itself, it doesn’t need a team of fancy accouterments to gussy it up. The nod to Texas Barbeque blends seamlessly into Sweet Cheeks Q’s urban setting—diners can enjoy the raw essence of what southern cooking is and always has been while wearing skinny jeans and occasionally tapping the iPhone.