Albany. Cooperstown. Howe Caverns. Boston. All points East. You’ll know when you near Exit 16 on I88 that something irresistible is cooking.
Most of us at one point or another travel in that direction, and chances are that when you pass Oneonta, you’ll be hungry. Ok, I don’t know why, but I am always hungry… Resist the temptation to stop at any of the three Oneonta exits, no matter how friendly the Burger King or McDonalds signs look. One more exit will be worth the wait.
By the time you reach the Emmons – Davenport exit, the tantalizing aromas of barbecued chicken and ribs will have reached your car and they will (quite forcefully) assist you in leaving the highway. Go back Rt 7 a half mile or so till you get to the packed parking lot at Brooks.
The House of BBQ has been an Oneonta fixture since they opened their doors in 1961 – I found out subsequently that my uncle Donald had a hand in building their first barbecue pit – but their history goes back farther than that.
It was 1951 when Griffin and Frances Brooks started a catering business. The barbecues were a hit from the beginning. They knew they were on to something good… Today, with the third generation of Brooke’s in charge, they have expanded to a 300 seat restaurant with some of the friendliest service I’ve ever experienced.
Three of us visited Brooks this past week on our way to Cooperstown, and as I said, the aromas led us right to the door. Greeted immediately with a smile, we were seated and read the menus. If you LOOK, you can find beef and seafood, but what they do best, chicken and pork, are the bulk of the fare.
The ladies had grilled chicken Caesar salads while I had the chicken and pulled pork dinner. All conversation stopped at the arrival of the meals. The salads were as tasty as they looked, and the generous portions were just a touch past our ability to clean the plate. The chicken revived memories of the barbecues my dad ran when I was little. Moist, well browned and very well executed Cornell style sauce made it an absolute treat.
The pulled pork was not quite up to what I expected – more like shredded pork without the zip I had expected, but still pleasant and very edible.
No, there was no room for dessert…
This was not the first time I’d been to Brooks – the last time was 1992 on the way home from the Americade in Lake George. My friend Rob went to SUNY Oneonta, and related that this was a place the students went for a treat. I can see why – students are, as a class, fairly …financially challenged. The three of us walked out for less than $40, which included a generous tip for exceptional service.
There is more to The Brooks establishment than a restaurant. They run a full catering service at a large cabin overlooking one of the valleys of Otsego County, plus a bottling plant. Not only do they bottle their own unique sauces, but if YOU have a great idea for a sauce, dressing or marinade that you would like to package and market, Brooks Bottling has your solution, offering help from idea through marketing, creation and distribution of your product.
The Brooks House of BBQ has been visited by Rachel Ray – the video can be found here: http://www.brooksbbq.com/#RachelRayVideo/0/ . You can smell the aroma through your computer. I wonder how they do that…
For more information, menus and all the other great stuff you can find at Brooks, got to www.brooksbbq.com and look around. The restaurant is about 2 hours from Lansing, and is worth a visit on your way wherever you go.
The phone is (800)498-2445 and the restaurant is located at 5560 State Rt 7, Oneonta, NY 13820
Sure it’s a trip, but still within reach!