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Restaurants & Bars 6

Baby Blues BBQ in Venice , review/Carolina BBQ found -long

Jerome | Nov 29, 200404:36 PM

So after the discussion here I decided to go down and try the place.
First, big caveat. This is not Texas style BBQ, or old fashioned California open pit bbq in the style of Harry's or for those who remember, love's. There are no beef ribs, the sauces aren't smoky or super-spicy, no tri-tip etc. It isn't KC style either.

What I had was great. I'd heard (for ages) about North Carolina style BBQ (not what you find at Phillip's in Leimert Park which is my FAVE for another type of bbq). The porkbutt is dry-rubbed, smoked for f'ingever (two smokers near the counter) and then slowcooked. I came late so they were out of lots of stuff on the menu (a good sign).

Here's what we had. My dining companion was delayed so I started witha side of the okra. Great. Not gummy, sliced up nice, well flavored. The sides by the way are HUGE, and the platters come with a choice of two. I got the pulled pork. By 9pm on a Sunday, all they had left were the pulled pork and a pulled brisket (concession to those of us west of the missouri who need our beef). So there was a bit of smoked turkey off the menu in the back so my dining companion enjoyed a little special turkey concoction that was might tasty (she loved it). Got the collards (only side with a little meat in it, tasted exactly like what a Carolinian friend omine serves on New Years Day with hopping john (blackeyed peas) so authentic enough for me) and creamed spinach which isn't a puree of spinach as much as spinach in an excellent cream and garlic light sauce. Tasty though. And large helpings.
The pork serving was good sized but I loved it so much I ordered a side of it as a second helping. Three house sauces available. A tomato-y vinegar sauce which is what I was expecting, great with the meat, the acidity cuts the dense creamy fattiness of the pork. It's not spicy, just wonderfully acidic. Then there's a hot sauce which I tried but I thought I'd go trad. for the first serving.
The hot sauce is fine but it's not the default bbq sauce if you're getting an order to go - so specify. Then there's a homemade chili-infused vinegar which I splashed on the okra and on the greens and was delightful.

They also serve ribs, which are, I'm told memphis style - pork ribs again NO BEEF RIBS - my understanding is that in NCarolina, bbq is just the smoked slow-grilled pork, that's it. So the ribs de facto have to be another style. They have lots of veggie sides if you're eating with a carnophobe and what appeared to be (the last of a )good bbq chicken. You can just get dark meat if you want, or so it seemed when a guy sitting near me at the counter ordered just a leg and thigh, a good thing since not everyone is crazy about white meat.
The desserts were gone by the time we were there (end of the weekend) but we got a taste of a ginger-infused whipped cream which they use on some of the desserts and it was pretty tasty. I was told that if I brought beer there was no corkage and they'd keep it cool.
I was also told that they will soon be offering catfish and shrimp both on plates andas po'boys, so there may be a pan-Confederate fusion thing going on (not including trans-mississippi south). They have soft drinks and bottled water as of now. Some of the other sides were yams, baked beans, (cornbread muffin came with the plate and it was nice and pepper-filled), a corn thing with chili and melted cheese that someone else raved about it but sounded a bit busy for me - I was there for the Carolina Q, and that's it.

If you're expecting a place like Philip's you'll be disappointed because it's like going to a french restaurant and expecting Turkish imam bayildi. The spices are differnt, the cooking styles are different, the tastes are different, the regions are different, the food is different. But quite a few people here have been lamenting oh no good North Carolina BBQ. And here's a place. I remember reading on line that there was a chain in southern Orange COunty, but this is Venice so for those of us in LA, it's a damnsightcloser. And it's really good. It's also not Charsiu pork,it's moister, as it's pulled it's stringier and it's more complex.

didn't have the sandwiches so can't comment on the slaw as an earlier poster did. But I'd recommend it. At the Chowfest someone (who was it? cant' remember) brought a homemade Carolina type pulled pork bbq and the thing that really made it was the vinegar sauce. It was great. This place has it and I now get why people could miss something that on the surface sounds pretty simple, simple if you have the spices, and the smoker and the slowgrill. And the time and the patience.

Me, I've got the ten bucks and a car. I can get to Venice pretty easily.


and for another style of BBQ which I also love - just to show I like all kinds of 'cue (for BEEF, and beef ribs I think)
(just got an 80, so sad)

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