July 7, 2008

Southern Style Barbecue is High Quality Fare

By Mike Kurilovitch

LEWISTON -- With apologies to The Commodores, an ode to one of Niagara's fine Southern barbecue joints:

Went to the Brick . . . Yard

Slow wood-fired cookin' coaxin' the flavor out

Yeah at the Brick . . . Yard

The menu's stacked with smokehouse smack

No holdin' the smiles back

Not at the Brick . . . Yard

It's the one, the only one

Stacked up like a brick smokehouse.

It helps in achieving the proper feel if you roll the calendar back to 1977, drag out the platform shoes, spike up your 'fro, open the collar, and spin the mirrored ball before reciting the lyrics.

But you get the idea. The Brickyard -- like Lionel Richie's dreamy "Brick House" lady -- "got everything . . . what a winning hand!"

We're talking succulent St. Louis style pork ribs, brain- engaging smoked brisket, char-broiled chicken, palate-pleasing pulled pork and gen-u-ine Southern catfish.

And that's just the beginning.

Talk about "lettin' it all hang out!" Yow!

Lest you worry that your quest for great BBQ will cost you more than the gas it takes to drive there, rest assured: the Brickyard's menu is wallet-friendly, as well. The menu tops out at $19 for a full rack of ribs, and trust me when I say that, unless you haven't eaten for a week prior, you'll get at least two full meals out of that Andrew Jackson.

Most of the meals cost substantially less, although are every bit as substantial. Don't let dollars be a deterrent to enjoying some real fine eats.

Located on the bustling Center Street, the village's main drag, the Brickyard Pub and BBQ is kind of subdued and moody, and offers "the best wood-fired cooking with the highest quality ingredients," according to the menu.

"Our barbecue is slow smoked with a blend of hickory and fruit woods for up to 14 hours," it continues, "in our authentic wood pit BBQ smoker, for that perfect off-the-bone-tender BBQ you're looking for!"

OK, so it's technically not a brick smokehouse . . . that line worked better for the song. It's called artistic license.

Speaking of artisans, the folks manning the grills (or whatever they have back there) at the Brickyard have truly cultivated their craft. Smoke cooking isn't the easiest thing to master, but these guys have got it down.

As Exhibit A, I present "The Ring of Smoke." It's that telltale pinkish color concealed inside smoked meats. The Brickyard calls it "the guarantee of genuine barbecue." I call it "the mark of mouth- watering meats."

Not only does the Brickyard get the meat right, but just as importantly -- if not more so -- it gets the sauces right. BBQ plates are served with a selection of a sweet and subtle Honey- Barbecue sauce and the slightly spicier House Bourbon Barbecue sauce.

Both were good, but the House Bourbon was really good. Tangy and rich, it really brought out the flavor of the meats.

We sampled the pulled pork, the St. Louis ribs (they also offer baby back), the barbecued chicken and the smoked brisket. All were quite tasty, but the brisket stood head-and-shoulders above the pack, in our opinion.

Served as a slab that's been thin-sliced, it was tender and tasty and virtually fat-free. Coupled with the Bourbon BBQ sauce, it was heavenly.

The ribs were, indeed, fall-from-the-bone tender and flaky, with a great smokehouse flavor and thick, stick-to-the-ribs sauce.

The pulled pork was flaky and mouth-watering, in a nicely done sauce.

My least favorite was the chicken, which seemed a bit dry. It perked up, however, when hit with a healthy dash of that bourbon sauce.

I ordered the Create Your Own Combo ($13.99) which allows you to choose three items from a list including a quarter-chicken, a quarter-slab of ribs, the pulled pork, honey-glazed smoked turkey and the sliced brisket.

The platters come with a hunk of the Brickyard's own corn bread and your choice of two sides (all of which are also available a la carte). I selected Brunswick Stew and Cajun corn.

The corn was tasty, a bit spicy but not as much as I had expected. It was a nice change of pace. The stew, on the other hand, was chunky, smoky and slightly tangy, a real palate-pleaser.

Wife Teresa had the Big Blue Plate Special ($11.99), which offered a choice between pulled pork or sliced brisket. For her sides, she chose the real mashed potatoes and the mac 'n cheese.

Both were very good. The potatoes were creamy; the mac 'n cheese, thick and gooey.

Daughter Meagan made an equally fine choice with the Cajun Shrimp Caesar ($7.99). Served with several large, spicy shrimps, it also came to the table with real bacon bits.

There are several other things I'd love to sample at the Brickyard: the chili, the smoked chicken wings, the Brickyard beans, red beans and chili and some of the sandwiches, to name a few.

They also sell BBQ by the pound, and claim to have Western New York's best bourbon selection. Sounds like a summertime dream, to be sure.

I'm certain that I will be back, even if it's just to carry out for a picnic along the nearby gorge.

e-mail: [email protected]


The Brickyard Pub and BBQ

432 Center St., Lewiston, (754-7227)

4 stars (Out of 4)

Favorite dish: Beef brisket

Needs work: BBQ chicken

Healthy choice: Shrimp Caesar salad

Price range: Surprisingly affordable, tops out at $19

Service: Excellent, friendly

Noise level: Quiet

Wheelchair access: Yes

Parking: On-street

Kid appeal: Finger-lickin' casual

Hours: Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily; 12:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Take-out, catering and banquets also available. Info online at www.brickyardpub.com

Originally published by NIAGARA CORRESPONDENT.

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