Good barbecue on the West Coast? Who knew?
Turns out, quite a bit!
At Barrel & Ashes in Studio City, chef-owners Timothy Hollingsworth and Rory Hermann, together with chef de cuisine Michael Kahikina and mixologist Julian Cox, have created a Southern-style meat lover’s paradise in the San Fernando Valley.
Together, these chefs have worked for some highly acclaimed restaurants such as The French Laundry and Bouchon Bakery. Still, the one thing they all had in common was a passion for barbecue and in the case of Hollingsworth, a desire to pay homage to his Texas roots and some of the recipes inspired by his mother.
So in 2014 they collaborated in opening Barrel & Ashes in the high traffic area of Ventura Boulevard. The building was stripped down to its original 1940s tile-work and completely redesigned with communal tables and an open-style chef’s counter with a view of the kitchen.
The atmosphere is distinctly casual and the fire from the wood oven gives it that homey feel. Meals are served family-style on large platters and bowls and, if you sit close to the kitchen, you can watch the food being expertly prepped and creatively plated.
Barrel & Ashes is a true carnivore’s delight. You can choose from tender meats slow-smoked over California Red Oak including brisket (cooked 16 to 18 hours), spare ribs, sausage, chicken, pulled pork and pork roast. Sourcing is paramount to good tasting food and the owners chose to use some of the best products from Mary’s Free Range Chicken, Salmon Creek Farms, and Greater Omaha beef.
Be sure to come hungry as you build up to the finale. Start with a “snack” such as Frito pie ($9) or the hush puppies ($4) while enjoying bourbon or a cocktail from their vast drinks selection. Their kale Caesar salad with almonds, parmesan and croutons ($12) is out of this world and might make you a fan of this leafy vegetable. Our table couldn’t get enough and enjoyed this as much as the barbecue.
If you are somewhat full from your starters, you could just go for what they proudly call their “best damn chick’n sandwich” ($9). Or, for the full monte, order one or a combination of their smoked meats and accompanying sauces. These sauces include Kansas City-style with tomato and molasses, or Carolina mustard, or one with a vinegar base.
Save a little room for dessert. I can recommend their creamy banana pudding ($7) with toasted meringue and ‘nilla wafers or the pecan bar ($9) made from molasses whip and candied ginger.
The next time you are in Los Angeles and get a craving for some smoked meats, make your way to this increasingly popular eatery. The chef-owners have used their experience and creativity to create an authentic Southern barbecue experience without having to travel all the way to Texas or the Carolinas!