A BBQ Smoker photo by Jay
Last week at a charity affair in Beverly Hills, I was speaking to Larry Flax, one of the two founders of the California Pizza Kitchen chain, and he told me that he and his partner, Rick Rosenfield, were setting up a company to explore new concepts in dining. And I revealed my long-held dream of a restaurant concept which lately has been increasingly engaging me. As my Huffington readers know, I have been asked many times why I have never opened my own restaurant... and I always reply that I cannot conceive of going to the same place to dine and shmooze every night. But then I said to him, "If you wanted to eat some barbeque tonight, where would you go?"... and he could not answer. "There is a huge hole in the market," I added. "People love barbeque, but here is really no place on the Westside, or even in greater L.A., where you would immediately head for a mess of Q. When 'Mr. Cecil' closed on Pico and 'Dem Bones' closed on Santa Monica Blvd. there is nothing else around. I often drive to Lincoln Blvd. for an order of lamb ribs at a barbeque place there, Baby Blue, which recently opened a branch somewhere in West L.A. without the lamb bones."
BBQ Ribs photo by Jay
I have traveled all over L.A. to explore the barbeque world. Been to Bludso's in Compton and their new place on La Brea, and mildly liked it. Been to Phillips around town, quite adequate for pork, not beef, and to Dr Hogly Wogly's Tyler Texas Q, which has been open for 40 years in the Valley. I made several stops at Boneyard Bistro on Ventura Boulevard for its Santa Maria-style food and earned his enmity when I complained about the dryness of his pulled pork. Zeke's Smokehouse in Compton was far better than its pale imitation in Hollywood, which I think has closed. When Jonathan Burrows shut his Mr. Cecil on Pico, I was not surprised... he called it barbeque but it really wasn't, just boiled and quickly grilled meat. Liked The Crossing and its Texas beef barbeque, but it's a long ride there.
Adam Perry Lang is the king of BBQ chefs..my choice for our restaurant. photo by Jay
What I really want is a nice storefront place here on the Westside (hopefully in or close to Beverly Hills) where I could go any time of the day or night and pick up an order of succulent Beef Bones (my favorite), St Louis-style pork ribs, a pound or two of really juicy, fatty brisket, pulled pork is not essential but would be nice, and -- most important -- a pile of Burnt Ends, those crusty bits of charred meat and fat which are indescribably delicious. Cold-smoked salmon, perhaps, for the women in my life. A fabulous barbequed chicken, of course, is a must. When I told Larry Flax that I even envisioned a drive-in place, he discouraged me from that: "No one will respect it if it has a window," he said. "Then it's just another fast-food join, and you are talking about fast casual." We debated my love for In-n-Out Burger and he agreed that they had cornered the quality burger fast food market, but he said that it was an anomaly.
No, I'm not about to open my own barbeque place... but if any of my Huffington readers out there are looking for a business idea, I throw this out to them. Just save me a pile of beef bones on opening night!
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