What does freedom taste like? My best guess is the sweet, spicy and smoky flavor of barbecued pork — yes, yes, we all know about Fourth of July cookouts, but put that aside and consider what it’s like to drop off your children at kindergarten and realize that since you work in the late afternoons and your wife works at home, you both now have six kid-free hours.
We celebrated our daughter joining life’s ceaseless treadmill of drudgery with lunch at Boneyard Barbecue and Saloon on Central Avenue in Seekonk, within shouting distance of Attleboro.
It’s not a fancy place, built like a rustic farmhouse with a flame paint job, with room for parking your motorcycle right up front.
Inside, the decor is a shrine to hard rock. Among the dartboards, steer skulls, purloined street signs and ads for beer and liquor, several signed electric guitars are mounted on the walls, along with posters for Motörhead, Metallica and AC/DC.
We could sit wherever we liked, and chose a booth under an Iron Maiden poster with a tabletop plastered in ads for musicians like Joe Strummer and Jefferson Airplane. Somewhere a stereo was playing Megadeth. I glanced over the bar and saw a TV tuned to Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb on the “Today” show.
Apart from that last thing, it’s eerily similar to a man cave I might’ve called home when I was 17.
A wide range of beverages is available behind the bar, including signature cocktails like the rib tickler, with black cherry vodka and lemonade, or the Boneyard blast with passion fruit vodka, chambord, and pineapple and cranberry juices. For wine connoisseurs, you’re looking at either Woodbridge or Sutter Home — sorry, folks, it’s not that kind of place.
But there are loads of beers in bottles or cans and on tap, mostly the mainstream stuff like Narragansett, the Buds, Heineken and a handful of micros like Boneyard Brew and Wachusett Blueberry. Being square, my wife and I ordered a couple of iced teas.
The food menu is brief and uncomplicated — two pages, heavy on the pub grub.
Starters are all reasonably priced, like the loaded fries with cheese and bacon ($7.50), chili cheese fries ($7.50), or an order of potachos, or potato chip nachos, with salsa, jalapeños, pulled pork and chili ($11.50 to $14.50 depending on the toppings).
We picked the pizza bones, pepperoni and cheese in an egg roll ($6.50), but after our friendly server told us they were fresh out, we chose the mac and cheese balls instead ($7).
Other options on the menu include salads from $6.50 to $10.50. Burgers from $8.50 to $12 include the Buffalo pulled chicken sandwich ($9.50), the mac and cheeseburger ($10.50) and the uncomfortably named hog burger, topped with pulled pork and cheese ($11).
From the barbecue, they offer half or full racks of ribs ($14.50 or $22), with barbecue sauce, baked beans and coleslaw on the side. Wings are eight for $9, 16 for $16, in amounts up to 90 wings, for those who skipped breakfast and are a wee bit peckish.
There are about 80 varieties of sauces and dry rubs, with flavors ranging from the usual buffalo to unique twists like buffalo cucumber wasabi, sinful apple barbecue, Jamaican sunburn, and the Dragon’s Play sauce with black-pepper-infused buffalo sauce with barbecue and garlic Parmesan. Other flavors are tempting, too, like cherryaki, buttermilk ranch, bourbon molasses and peanut butter and grape jelly, which sounds absolutely terrifying but I’d still like to try it sometime.
My wife picked the half-rack of ribs, and I picked 16 wings with an award-winning Dark and Stormy barbecue sauce, flavored like the cocktail, with ginger, lime and rum, and an order of curly fries on the side ($5).
Glancing at the ceiling while we waited, we suddenly noticed it was encrusted with what looked like hundreds of crumpled dollar bills, clinging like bats.
“I wonder what’s up with the dollar bill thing?” I said.
My wife pointed to a sign on the table that read: “What’s up with the dollar bill thing.” Convenient!
In a nutshell, you create a dart out of a dollar, a quarter and a thumbtack and launch it at the ceiling — if it sticks, you get a free sample of wings (and the bar gets an extra dollar). We didn’t give it a shot because within a minute, our food was on the table — all of it at once, apps too.
The mac balls were larger than I had expected — I had presumed like tater-tot size, to be eaten with your fingers, and these were more like plum-size — smothered in cheese, crunchy shell and piping hot. They broke apart when we tried to eat them, making it a little messy but gooey and delicious.
My wife’s half-rack of ribs was a great size, with plenty of heft. Biting into one was a disappointment, though — they seemed a bit overcooked with the meat retaining a bit of water. That, and the fact they came out of the kitchen so quickly, had me suspicious that they’d been frozen for a while and carelessly reheated.
The flavor was off, too, since they seemed to be seasoned only with paprika, no salt. Between the flavorlessness and the off texture, she found them pretty unpleasant unless smothered in the barbecue sauce on the side, so they just became a sauce delivery system.
My wings were a completely different story. The crunchy coating was rich in gooey, delicious sauce, with fresh and tender meat inside. The sauce was award-winning for a reason — I couldn’t catch much lime but could sense a fantastic mix of ginger, sweet smokiness and a healthy shot of rum, with just enough heat to make it kick.
For someone like me who prefers his wings with unique flavor combinations to volcanic spice, they were pretty perfect. I could only manage to put away eight of them, and brought the rest home. Arguably they were even better after they’d had a while to sit.
The selection of desserts was fairly unremarkable and didn’t seem hand-made, like Oreo pie ($5.50) and fried ice cream ($6) and my kid’s favorite, chocolate cake ($5.50). Being already stuffed with wings, curly fries and macaroni, I passed on it — especially since my daughter wasn’t there to enjoy dessert with me.
We paid the reasonable $52 tab and, after soaking up one last Judas Priest song, headed over the horizon in the mini-van.