For all of you who make the regular trek down to Bludso's in Compton for, perhaps, the sole purpose of eating Kevin Bludso's justly celebrated barbecue, you can cut down on your carbon footprint (although maybe not that of Bludso himself; add your BBQ carbon joke here: ____ ), as of about 5 o'clock this afternoon. That's when the new Bludso's will open at 609 N. La Brea, in the location formerly occupied by The Tar Pit.
It's a fitting space for a barbecue joint, really, albeit one that's a bit swanker than Bludso's Compton digs. Concrete floors, grey walls, a lot of booze, enough flatscreen TV's (six) to make the restaurant, which will be open daily, a pretty terrific place to take in March Madness. This outpost is the joint venture of "executive pit master" Bludso and Jason Bernstein and James Starr, co-owners of The Golden State.
And although it's Bludso's name on the door and his recipes -- the menu is pretty much the same as it is in Compton -- the guy helming the massive Cape Girardeau, Missouri-made Ole Hickory smoker visible from the bar is Noah Galuten, who was to be found at The Golden State pretty much since he quit writing for this food section. Galuten has brought not only his expertise but his mother, Nancy Lyons, whose desserts (apple pie, red velvet cake) will be what you're ordering after your plates of brisket and pork ribs, pulled pork and rib tips, all priced by the pound and served on paper-lined sheet trays ("BBQ looks stupid on a plate"). As for what to eat with your
Texas Samplers small and large trays of meat-by-the-pound, look for baked beans, collard greens, potato salad, mac-n-cheese and housemade bread-and-butter pickles.
The cocktail and beer program, unsurprisingly given that Jason Bernstein is running the show, is kind of spectacular. As is the bar, also unsurprising given that the BBQ joint once housed a luxurious speakeasy. Bernstein and GM Zak Fishman have stocked the full bar with bourbons and ryes (Rittenhouse, Noah's Mill, Evan Williams) and a large gin selection. Also on tap: PBR, Hop Head Red, Cismontane Holy Jim Falls XPA, Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA, Fernet-Branca and mint juleps. Yep, your housemade spearmint-infused mint juleps are on tap -- a nitrogen tap, to be precise. Also look for mezcal negronis. Because that much meat calls for a little happy torque, doesn't it.
"We're not the first guys with a 47 license and a barbecue place," Bernstein said the other day. Maybe so. But they might be the first guys with mint juleps on tap, a smoker the size of a small Hummer and chairs sourced from a Dutch monastery.
"It shouldn't feel like Epcot Texas," says Bernstein, whose approach to decorating might be described as half West Hollywood, half Repo Man. The comfortable open dining room has steel picnic tables and leather booths sourced from downtown's late pizza parlor Urbano, metal table bases (and some seriously cool ice machines) from The Tar Pit, as well as those scarlet-footed monastery chairs. No sawdust on the floor or cow's heads on the walls; if you want more atmosphere, maybe wear your cowboy boots.
Galuten says that Bludso's will be open seven days a week starting this afternoon at 5:00 p.m. until midnight. Thanks to The Tar Pit, they're licensed to 2 a.m., and might at some point extend their hours ("we're not going to kick everybody out at midnight"). Lunch and a to-go menu are also in the works, as is, eventually, outside patio seating.
Bludso's Bar & Que: 609 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, barandque.com; 323-931-2583; open daily starting today, Feb. 18, 5:00 p.m. - midnight.