Route 17K Ames Plaza
Newburg, NY 12550
(About 1/4-1/2 mile east of Exit 17 off NY Thruway / 87. About 3-4 miles West of Rt. 9W. Situated 4 doors down from Ames at the back of the plaza.)
I made a trip up to Newburg yesterday to check on Barnstormer BBQ on Rt. 17K. Barnstormer is about 4 years old and is doing very well. It is busy most mealtimes and does a good takeout and lunch service. I had no problems finding the place although when I first walked in I thought it was a store front, then realized it had a very large room in back with about six 4 person tables in the middle and eight 6 person booths and 4 very large booths around the walls. There was no one else in the place at 4pm on a Monday afternoon.
The owner / partner? Geoff Provan was there and took my order and served me himself. We got in a good conversation about BBQ and the merits of different styles and types of smoking. He has kept tabs on other area cue joints and was able to discuss their merits and faults with an unbiased opinion. (As a matter of fact we had the same thoughts on every place we had tried in common. He is a fine judge of cue. ;-)> ) From his information there are about 32 real Barbeque joints in New York and New England. If you want to know more just stop by and ask him. He is on a mission to cruise on his motorcycle and try as many of his competitors cue as possible. I think I will have to get in touch for his next cruise and ask to join him.
Geoff and company use all hickory wood in an electric Smokemaster Unit and cook the meat at around 190 degrees for around 8+ hours, after marinating in a dry rub for several hours. Geoff says that he gets very even and consistent results with this unit. (Forgive me if I make any mistakes in this since I am working from memory a day or so later. I have a feeling he and his partner will be fans of this site and commenting real soon.)
I had a difficult time judging the cue. I base my thoughts on several years of Down South living (two years in rural middle Georgia and two in middle Florida.) Including a year of working as asst. pitmaster at a rural Georgia open pit cue place. Personally I am a fan of Georgia / Carolinas cue where it is wet mopped with a hot n spicy tomato vinegar sauce. I cant help it, I am a hot head and love chilis and the tang of vinegar. That doesnt mean I dont understand, enjoy, and eat all the styles I can come across but I do base my thoughts in part on this.
Barnstormer is a Memphis dry rub style that showcased the flavor of the meat. They do pork ribs, pork butt, and chicken in the smoker and then finish the ribs and chicken off on the grill. They cut the butt up for the "pulled pork," leaving it a mix of super meaty and smoky outside pieces and moist inner pieces. They do offer a wet "after mop" Kansas City style on several items which is a meaty non sweet or hot sauce grilled on to the already cooked meat or ribs. It was definitely very evenly and well cooked. Lots of meaty smoke flavor and moist but not soggy. The meat came off the bone easily but had texture to it so that it didnt fall apart in a mess like cue cooked with too high a humidity/moisture level that steams the meat. The deal about this place is the taste of the meat. If you like big, hickory smoked meaty taste, then you will like Barnstormer.
I had a ¼ rack of "Kansas City Style" ribs which was 4 delicious, big, and meaty ribs, and the "Carolina" pork sandwich. The sandwich did not taste like a Carolina style since it didnt have enough tang to it but the meat on it was very tasty. It did come with what they called "sweet vinegar cole slaw" piled on top of the meat and this did add a bit of sweet tang. Just not as much as I would have liked. I didnt try the chicken which is dry rubbed in its own blend of spices, smoked, then grilled. Or the "Texas Kettle Beef Brisket" which is slow cooked submerged in a beer BBQ sauce for hours. I hadnt heard of this style but was told that it is done in certain parts of Texas. They didnt have any at the time but were getting it ready for the dinner hours.
The one thing that didnt grab me were the sides. The only one that did was the home cooked fries (skin on) which were great, hot out of the kitchen but cooled down rapidly, they had nice flavor that I couldnt describe. The Chili was Texas style. Lots of cumin and meat. Maybe some onions? Thats it. No beans, which is good or bad depending upon which style you like. I think that they could have been rounded out a bit and been more complex, but again if you like the taste of meat then you would like the chili. The cole slaw was typical slaw, nothing out of the ordinary. I like a slaw that is assertive with cue. One that is tangy and vinegary to counterbalance the sweet and meat. If the cole slaw that was served on the Carolina style sandwich was a bit more vinegary this would be an ideal cole slaw to serve as a side dish. I will have to recommend this next time I stop by. The BBQ beans were innocuous. Again I like more flavor, not necessarily super sweet Boston style but with a hint of molasses, brown sugar, or maple syrup, and of course cooked with onions and chunks of bacon or preferably BBQ in with them. The cornbread was of the sweet corn bread style and maybe I might have gone more for another assertive style such as chili / jalapeno cornbread or the non-sweet, more savory type with a hint of bacon to give it substance. I didnt try the rice n beans, the pasta salad, the tomato and cucumber salad, or the veggie of the day side dishes.
All in all, I recommend them as one of the best BBQ places I have tried North of the Mason-Dixie line.
The total items they serve are:
Salads- House $3.00, Pork (House topped with pulled pork) $6.50, BBQ Chicken Caesar $7.25
Appetizers- BBQ Wings 12 for $6.50, "No Fooling Around" Chili $2.50/3.50, Ribs- ¼ to full rack $5.00-16.00, Spicy peel and eat shrimp- $6.75 ½ lb. and $12.00 1 lb.
The aforementioned sides at $1.75
A variety of BBQ pork sandwiches at $6.25-6.50, an a variety of grilled chicken breast sandwiches at $6.50-6.95.
The BBQ Ribs (Same as the apps but add about $2 and you get two sides.
BBQ Combos, BBQ Chicken, Kettle Beef, Grilled Kielbasa, and burgers.