You might want to make sure you don’t have any intense activity planned for the afternoon after eating lunch at Maple Tree BBQ in Riverhead.
That’s because you might end up in a food coma after indulging in the slow-cooked meats topped with homemade sauces.
“I keep threatening to bring hammocks here,” owner Kevin Judge told me when I admitted feeling drowsy after finishing an entire pastrami reuben.
To make the pastrami, the cooks at Maple Tree apply a rub of coriander, brown sugar, paprika, garlic and mustard seed to corned beef. The meat is then smoked for six hours and steamed for five. The pastrami reuben is served with sauerkraut, swiss chess and your choice of dressing on toast ($10.) I chose Russian dressing with a trio of dipping sauces including cajun aioli, cuban barbecue and white barbecue.
The additional sauces were not really necessary, but the white barbecue, which is made with horseradish, married nicely with the sandwich’s flavors. The standout ingredient was Maple Tree’s pastrami, which was rich in flavor thanks to the rub.
“It gives it a nice smoky flavor,” Judge said of making the sandwich with pastrami instead of the traditional corned beef. “[Pastrami] is a process, not a cut of meat.”
I’ve also enjoyed the eatery’s pastrami hash, which I frequently order with scrambled eggs with the “East End Platter.” Adding barbecue sauce to eggs is way-too-underutilized pairing that I recommend to anyone who puts hot sauce or ketchup on their huevos.
The reuben is a feel good meal, the kind that hits your brain’s pleasure center — not a light lunch for those counting their calories. It’s a decadent treat, meant to be savored and enjoyed.
Maple Tree, which was a traditional deli for many years, switched over to a barbecue concept about two and a half years ago. His catering business has flourished in that time as the eatery has made a name for itself on the barbecue scene, even earning the distinction of one the 100 best restaurants on Long Island in 2014.
“We had to put more emphasis on fresh roasting meats,” Judge said. “We looked for ways to make it more interesting.”