Restaurant Trip: Barrel & Ashes
My love affair with pork runs as deep as the Grand Canyon, so it makes perfect sense that I decided to write a post about BBQ, in order to give myself an excuse to go eat some. For quite a while now, Bludso’s Bar & Que on La Brea has been my first choice anytime I have a jones for BBQ. However, this time I decided to make a trip over the hill to my old stomping grounds in Studio City to check out the offerings at Barrel & Ashes for the first time.
Don’t be fooled by it’s down home “gastro-barn” chic decor, Barrel & Ashes isn’t your ordinary BBQ joint. Owned by famed restaurateur Bill Chait (Bestia, Rebublique’, etc.), and helmed by chefs Timothy Hollingsworth (formerly of French Laundry), and Rory Herrmann (formerly of Per Se and Bouchon), these culinary Super Friends boldly showcase their elevated version of Texas-style BBQ. To kick things off I ordered the hoe cake, which is one of their signature dishes. I would describe it as being a billowy cornmeal pudding cake. There was literally one on every table in the dining area so I figured it had to be good. To say it was good is an understatement. It arrived in a searing 6” iron skillet, topped with scallions, flecks of sea salt, and melted maple butter. It was absolutely delicious, had great texture, and hit on all those sweet and salty notes perfectly.
Now onto the main event, the MEAT! More than anything I was looking forward to trying out their critically acclaimed beef brisket, but I was bummed to find out that it’s only made available at dinner service, along with a few other menu items. Instead, my Eating Anonymous partner and I ordered a sampling of the pulled pork, the OG hot sausage link, and the spare ribs. The pulled pork was perfectly tender, smoky, and a had vinegar base that was the perfect compliment to the richness of the meat. No BBQ sauce needed. The sausage which is sourced from Electric City Butcher in Santa Ana, had a perfectly crisp tight skin, and when I bit into it my palette was met by a robust, yet balanced array of flavors. The quality of the meat was superb, very tender and juicy. As for the ribs, which are sourced from Salmon Creek Farms, had very tasty, yet subtle flavors. Not as aggressive as Bludso’s. They had a great smoke on them, but not as tender as I would have liked, which happens sometimes with this type of BBQ. Overall, I was very happy that I made the trip over the hill to try this place, and I definitely recommend it. I’ll definitely be making another trip… for dinner this time.