The Eastern Shore of Maryland is best known; culinarily, for Blue Crabs, Pit Beef, Maryland Fried Chicken and Oysters. All of which I love and would walk the proverbial mile for but unfortunately BBQ has never been on that list. This is not to say that there isn’t some good BBQ being served out of some stores, just nothing to make me want to make a special trip just to satisfy a craving; that is until now. The BBQ Joint in Easton, Md. is the kind of place that BBQ freaks like me dream of. It is the kind of place that you schedule trips to and from Ocean City Maryland around just so you can stop by and get a taste. The kind of place… well you get the idea.
Andrew Evans is the chef/owner of The BBQ Joint. He is a CIA trained chef who has worked most of his life in fine dining operations both here in the U.S. as well as overseas. He came to Easton in 1999, and with his wife renovated an historic home. In 2000 they opened the Bartlett Pear Inn, a boutique hotel and 45 seat fine dining restaurant that garnered critical and commercial success. Unfortunately, as life tends to be a fickle mistress, his marriage dissolved and with that the Inn was sold. Chef Evans then tried his hand at a Thai carryout concept but during this time a love, respect and appreciation for bbq was developing and after 7 years of experimenting he opened The BBQ Joint in 2010.
The Joint is a small store front with about 8 seats at a central bar with maybe an additional 30 or so seats at small tables in the front. The hardwood floor is covered with saw dust and the tabletops are plain wood with paper napkins, light weight silverware and caddies filled with bbq sauce. There is some seating on the sidewalk out front and the décor is best explained as pig themed. The servers are friendly but haggard by the volume on busy summer days and there is always a wait on those days. But the line means that the wait is worth it when your tray comes.
When you do get seated start out with a cold beer (the Joint only has a beer and wine license) or their sweet tea. There is no appetizer section on the menu but under “Specialties” I would suggest starting with an order of the Fried Onion Rings which are hand-cut, large, sweet and crunchy and served with a nice ranch dressing. Or start with my personal favorite, the Slow Smoked Chicken Wings, which come to you tender and juicy with a beautiful smoke essence and finished with a dusting of their dry rub (I actually dream about these things…is that weird?). If you are with a group of very hungry people try the Red Neck Nachos which you can have topped with the pulled pork, chicken or brisket, but be forewarned they are huge. Unfortunately, the ½ pound Smoked Sausage Sampler was a bit dry, mainly due to low fat content in the sausage.
Now to the reason we all are here, the BBQ. The Brisket is a thing of beauty. It can come chopped or sliced and plain or as a sandwich. It also comes Lean, Medium or Fatty and remembering the adage that “fat is flavor” I suggest going with the Medium. It is no exaggeration to say that it is the most succulent, moist, tender Brisket I have ever eaten. The Pulled Pork, like everything else, has been slow cooked for hours and hours and when you bite into it you may never be able to look at another without longing in your heart for the Joints. The Ribs at the Joint are St. Louis cut which means that the rib tips have been removed, which are grisly and this allows the rib to cook more evenly. You can order your Ribs either Dry or Wet and being that the BBQ Joints Dry Rub is award winning I would suggest getting them dry. This allows you to actually taste the beauty of the meat and it permits you to try the full range of the home-made sauces that are available in your table caddy. The rib meat is falling off the bone tender while still being moist. There are four sauces on every table and they are all made in house. They are Sweet, Medium, Spicy and Swicy. They all have their merits but I like to start with a layer of Swicy and finish with a dip of the Spicy. The sauces are amazing and are a compliment to all the meats served at the Joint.
It is easy to forget about the sides when you are surrounded by all the meats here but fortunately Chef Evans has not. The Collard Greens are rich and salty and served with their “pot liquor” which I have been known to tip the cup and shoot. The Mac and Cheese is creamy and cheesy, the Potato Salad is well seasoned with the potatoes cooked perfectly in a nice mayo dressing with big chunks of celery and the Baked Beans are intense to the point of almost being a chili with big pieces of onion and peppers and not sweet but very good.
The Dessert portion of the menu has always intrigued but I have never been able to order any due to the fact that I didn’t want the BBQ taste to be gone. The Hillbilly Pie sounds great (go and find out what it is for yourselves) and a nice Root Beer Float would be a nice finish to a BBQ dinner; oh well, maybe next time.
Easton is only an hour and a half west of Ocean City and is full of quaint shops, a great old Theatre and excellent restaurants (to be written about in future reviews). Stop by on your way to or from your OC vacation or just have a nice day trip, I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Just remember that The BBQ Joint is small, great BBQ takes time and the Joint is closed on Sundays.
SOOIE!! I hear my dinner calling me.
The BBQ Joint information in Easton, MD. Be sure to stop there twice on your way to and from Ocean City, Maryland. I know I will!
The BBQ Joint
216 East Dover Street (corner of Dover and Aurora)
Easton, Md. 21601