Barrel & Ashes
11801 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
Dining date: 11/22/14
One of the hottest restaurants in LA right now has to be this place, Barrel & Ashes. It’s the latest from prolific restaurateur Bill Chait, teaming up this time with two Thomas Keller vets Tim Hollingsworth (The French Laundry) and Rory Herrmann (Bouchon). Add barman Julian Cox and I’d say this is one of the highest-powered restaurant teams LA’s seen in some time. While the Hollingsworth/Herrmann pedigree comes from some of the fanciest of foods, Barrel & Ashes focuses in on a rather ‘simple’ food – BBQ. They’ve done extensive travel and eating and bring a mix of regional Southern specialties to Studio City.
The menu hones in on meat sold by the weight and ribs by the rack or half-rack. A handful of small plates and sides round out the savory part of the menu. On this evening, we tried a couple of the small plates and tried as many of the meats we could in one sitting.
Horse’s Neck bourbon, housemade ginger ale, angostura, lemon
Salt & Pepper Pork Rinds malt vinegar mayonnaise
Listed as ‘spicy pork rinds’ on the menu and ‘salt & pepper pork rinds’ on the receipt, I found the heat to be very subtle. They came out still-warm with a delightful crunch. Very nice.
Smoked Chicken Wings shaved vegetables, blue cheese
The second of our ‘snacks,’ these wings were also strong. Smoke flavor was perfectly imbued throughout these wings, cooled down with blue cheese and crisp shaved vegetables.
Our ‘platter’ of meat came next; we ordered the smallest sizes of 4 different kinds.
Brisket – Greater Omaha C.A.B
Pulled Pork – Salmon Creek Farms
Pork Spare Ribs – Salmon Creek Farms
Smoked Sausage – Electric City Butchers; O.G.
First, the Texas-style brisket was excellent. Juicy, flavorful with smoke and fork tender. Easily the best I’ve had in this city. The pulled pork was tender as advertised, though the Carolina vinegar sauce was a bit too sharp for my tastes. The St. Louis-style pork spare ribs were another good one with a crisp bark and smoky, juicy meat. Lastly, the sausage was also delicious with good spices and a juicy interior. Overall, really well done.
These crispy fried potatoes were another hit with a hot soft interior and fried sage. Great textural contrast. Pieces of fried skin were a great touch too.
Dapper Apple tequila blanco, granny smith apple soda, safe
Sloe Gin Fizz
Apple Cobbler autumn spiced apples, homemade vanilla ice cream
To finish, we had a warm apple cobbler with a nice crusty topping and housemade vanilla ice cream. Very satisfying.
Our meal at Barrel & Ashes was a very strong one. I am far from well-traveled in the world of BBQ, but this is the best I’ve had in LA (especially the brisket). It wasn’t exactly cheap at just over $80pp all-in, but the quality of meat (and the fact that they have a full bar) helped justify it. I would definitely return; I hear I have to try the hoe cake and would like to try the rest of the meats on the menu. Totally need a second helping of the brisket too.