Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bah Bah Blackstrap, have you any meat? Yes sir, yes sir, here, have a seat (Except not). - Blackstrap BBQ

Hey guys, it's summerrr! And you know what that means... overdosing on marinated and grilled meat, a.k.a barbecues! And for those of you who don't have a backyard patio to perform this delightful western tradition, or are simply too lazy, then you always have the option of visiting Blackstrap BBQ for some premium barbecued meats.

I really have to remember to bring my camera when I eat out. Well, at least my phone takes better pictures now than it did before.

So, I have a friend. And most of my eating habits are dictated strictly by this friend's cravings and food mood swings. Usually, if I find an interesting restaurant that's out of the way, I'll put off going until the weather is nice, but as soon as my friend craves something, she'll drag me to the designated restaurant - come hell or high water. That's pretty much what happened with Blackstrap, a Memphis-style BBQ house. Never get between a carnivore and her meat... (I'm totally side-eyeing those of you thinking 'That's what she said', or anything along those lines.)

Accessibility - Grade: A-
We actually drove there this time around, but there are two metro stations fairly close to the restaurant. One is Verdun station, and the other is De L'Eglise station. It's probably about a five minute walk from either one of those.

Ambiance (?) Notes
Okay, it's not so much the ambiance, which has a quaint and very casual Western feel to it, but this restaurant is tiny. There are two picnic tables at the front, and then a couple of seats at the bar area, and another couple of seats at a counter. This restaurant gets pretty busy, so it might be very hard to find a seat, especially if you're a group. tl;dr: Not good for groups.

Service - Grade: B
Well, there isn't really any service, since it's practically self-serve. You go up to the counter, order your food, and then wait to pick up your food once they're done performing their magic. The girl who took our order seemed nice, and the guys cooking behind the counter were chill and fun, singing 'Pika-Pikachu, where are you? We've got so Pokemon to slay now' while cooking. No, really. You can't make this stuff up.

Food - Grade: B

Le Gros

We were 3 people, and we ordered a Le Gros and a burnt-end poutine (which, by the way, are written on paper bags on the wall. I totally missed them when looking at the menu). Turns out, there was enough food to feed a small army. Le Gros comes with braised brisket, grilled chicken, ribs, coleslaw, braised kale, beans, fries and the famous fried macaroni balls.

Le Gros
The braised kale and the coleslaw really weren't that special, but they're just the accoutrements, the warm-up comedian to the big show. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the beans. They tasted like a cross between your typical sweet feves au lard and chili. But, again, not the feature presentation. I thought the mac and cheese balls were pretty interesting, little dense balls of cheesy cooked pasta covered in breadcrumbs and fried. They're a little on the bland side, but are worth trying once for the novelty of it. However, they are really greasy. Like, dripping a river of oil type of greasy. So I wouldn't recommend over-indulging.

I have to say, while the meats were flavourful and well-marinated, they were on the dry side, especially the ribs. Still, while the outside of the ribs were bone dry, once you cut into the middle, it was still tender, smokey and fell off the bone easily. The chicken was well-spiced and had plenty of flavour, but was also a little on the dry side. I'm not overly fond of braised brisket, but it tasted pretty good.  Since it is Memphis-style BBQ, I suppose the meats are meant to be drier than your regular BBQ, but I personally prefer my meats to have a bit more juice.

Homemade sauces
On the bright side, Blackstrap offers these amazing homemade sauces to counteract the dryness and heaviness of the meat. The spicy one isn't all that great on its own, in my opinion, and is really quite watery. It tastes like a mix of white vinegar and tabbasco sauce. The sweet sauce is like a barbecue sauce, except with a bit more zest and bite. I like to mix the sweet sauce with a tiny bit of the spicy sauce, which creates a nice mix of sweet, sour and spicy.

Burnt-end poutine
Okay, honestly? This. This was my favourite item of the evening, and if it weren't for this, I would have written this place off as maybe-just-slightly-above-average. The fries were nice and crispy, the gravy was creamy and plentiful enough that it pooled at the bottom of the trough, and had a bit of a peppery bite. The cheese curds, while they didn't melt, were huuuuuge and squeakily fresh, and the braised brisket was the juicy, fatty, smokey meat I was expecting (much unlike the leaner cuts in Le Gros). Seriously, if you're going to try anything at Blackstrap, try this.

Price - $$
Considering how we were left with a ton of leftovers, we could have easily split this between four people. After tax and tip and whatnot, the meal came up to around $60, which is around $20 per person (if you're three). If you're four, it'd be closer to $15, which would definitely make it an economical meal. Individually, Le Gros cost about $38 and the burnt end poutine cost $10, all before tax and tip.

Final Grade: B
Since I've never had Memphis-style BBQ, Blackstrap BBQ definitely provided a new and interesting experience. I found the meats a little dry for my taste, but I'll swear by the burnt-end poutine. No, really. Go try it. Now.

Blackstrap BBQ
4436 Wellington street (Verdun), Montreal
(514) 507-6772
Blackstrap BBQ on Urbanspoon


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