After a start that I thought was most promising, Soulfire Barbecue on Harvard Ave in Allston has been getting progressively worse with each succeeding visit, and this afternoon's visit ends it. I'm done with this place.
I ordered a chopped brisket sandwich that I started to throw in the trash after two bites. The waitress, to her credit, saw immediately that I was binning an almost untouched sandwich and asked me to stay and talk to the manager so I could get my money back. While I was waiting for him to come upstairs, the guy running the kitchen came out and asked what was wrong with the sandwich. I told him, "Well, I took two bites and had to spit them both out because they were nothing but fat. I realize that brisket is a fatty cut, but this brisket was clearly on the pit about half the time it was supposed to be, because that fat should render off and the connective tissue should have melted properly, and neither of those things happened." He nodded, apologized and withdrew. Fair enough.
I didn't even bother to mention that properly, a chopped brisket sandwich means CHOPPED brisket, not brisket that's in 3/4" chunks. Because honestly, by now, what's the point. The people running this place just don't know what they're doing when it comes to brisket.
So fianlly, the manager came out and first offered me a sliced brisket sandwich -- which was clearly going to be inedibly tough, if it came off the same brisket as this sandwich of unrendered fat chunks -- and then said that all he could do was offer me a gift certificate for the amount of the sandwich. I told him "Since the chances of my ever coming back here are pretty much nil, I'm gonna take a pass on that" and walked out.
I was a cheerleader for this place when it opened, in the face of some staunch naysayers, but given the downward trend in the ensuing months, I have to admit that the naysayers were right all along: Soulfire pretty much blows. Someday, there will be a barbecue restaurant in this town that knows what to do with brisket -- even at my go-to place, Blue Ribbon, the brisket is the weakest item on the menu -- but until then, I'm gonna have to start making my own.
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