Dining Review: Goodstuff Smokehouse
The Blackstone, Mass., barbecue joint serves up the pleasure of sticky finger food.
On the border of Woonsocket, Goodstuff Smokehouse is what it says. The restaurant is little more than a box bordered in wood planks with a massive draft list hanging overhead and a soundtrack of classic rock wailing from the walls. Bikers in leather vests and doo-rags are regulars and it’s easy to find the parking lot, which is often filled with Harleys and pickup trucks. But for all of Goodstuff’s requisite hard-nosed attitude, the restaurant approaches food with an unexpected dose of sugar.
Bags of kettle corn line the register, scooped up like county fair food by kids trailing behind their parents. Cornbread, served in wedges, is as good as an unfrosted birthday cake (“Can bread taste like sweet cream?” marvels one myopically focused father), and even thick slabs of bacon are served with a candied glaze ($11.99). No doubt that with at least eighteen craft beers, this is a serious bierhaus. Descriptions read like an eharmony profile: “loaded with Mosaic and Citra to the point of stickiness”; “[this one’s] always been about walking the line between decadence and approachability.” But if booze gets the most airtime here, it’s the homemade root beer that balances every spicy dish and goes home in half-gallon jugs.
Goodstuff, however, is as much a smoking pit as it is a candy shop. Everything is slow-cooked, from brisket and ham to chicken, turkey, sausage and cheese curds. Meatloaf is cheddar-stuffed and bacon-wrapped ($18.99), and fries are served like nachos, smothered in cheese, pulled pork and barbecue sauce ($13.99). Even the collard greens come with gamey bits of bacon. If you think all of this is far too casual and you can’t bear to eat with your hands, the chef also sears a thick strip or rib-eye steak. (Romance is alive and well.)
But by all accounts, this is a beer and ’cue joint that happens to be kid-friendly enough to store highchairs around every corner. That makes the best dish all the more surprising. Hiding behind all those Southern go-tos is the area’s best pastrami — you heard me — sandwich and it’s nothing short of a revelation. Sure, pastrami’s just brisket dressed up in some brine and spices but this version is a major American cultural shift from the tables of NYC to a place Goodstuff calls New England-Style barbecue. Gone is the rye bread; a doughy roll steps in ($13.99). Served warm and thickly sliced, it’s not trying to compete with an old school deli sandwich as much as reinvent it. If you needed a reminder that soul food is evolving as much as it’s telling our history, Goodstuff is here to provide it.
97 Main St., Blackstone, Mass., 508 928-1850, goodstuffsmokehouse.com.
Must get Pastrami sandwich, pulled pork, candied bacon.
Capacity Based on social distancing requirements.