Blackstrap BBQ Montreal
By Alex ChinienDec 15 2012 · 0 comments · Dining Out
[dropcap]B[/dropcap]lackstrap BBQ appears to have developed into a surprisingly divisive new restaurant from Clara Barron and Dylan Kier (Griffintown Cafe alumni). We had high expectations going into the experience for a number of reasons. The Blackstrap team’s ribs recently placed 13th out of 87 entrants at the Jack Daniel’s 2012 World Invitation Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tenn. and won Quebec’s Mondial du Grill.
One of the reasons it took us so long to check Blackstrap out was its location in Verdun – a bold move to a part of Montreal not known for its eateries. Part of the reason for this may be that Verdun has historically been a dry city (dating back to around 1919). This makes the already tough restaurant business every harder, lacking high margin alcohol offerings on the menu. Now that liquor licenses are becoming easier to come by, bars and restaurants are slowing creeping into the Wellington corridor. Blackstrap BBQ doesn’t yet serve liquor, but its surprising presence is indicative of the direction the neighborhood is headed.
We walked into Blackstrap BBQ on a weekday night and the casual vibe and decor resonated with us right away. After sitting down at a big wooden table, we ordered Beef Brisket with Fried Mac & Cheese and Ribs with Braised Greens. We were unable to say no to the dish we had heard the most buzz about: the burnt ends poutine.
Our order was ready within 15 mins and the sight of all that meat, cheese and sauce was a glorious sight indeed. We started by digging into the poutine.
The poutine was packed with a generous helping of delicious charred pieces of BBQ meat and the fries held up playing a supporting role. We really liked the dish but felt it was lacking enough cheese to balance out the heaping of meat.
We ate the brisket with both spicy and sweet BBQ sauces. We didn’t have a favorite – they were both great. The spicy sauce is actually a lot more thin and liquid then you would expect and the BBQ sauce was sweeter than most. The brisket was expertly sliced quite thin and had a clean salt and pepper taste.
The ribs were the point of contention – we’ve heard a lot of people saying they didn’t measure up to their expectations. This is the way I see it. First of all, expectations are definitely ultra high given the pedigree of the chefs. Second of all, it’s worth considering that the ribs are very reasonably priced at $15 a plate. Lastly – the ribs at Blackstrap are Memphis style – meaning straight up dry rub style ribs. I think a lot of diners think of ribs and expect tender juicy meats with heavy BBQ sauces caramelized on top. Memphis style ribs are however are dry rubbed and prepared differently.
Personally, we favor juicy, tender ribs with a lot of sauce and so the dry rub ribs weren’t our favorite. But again, they may have been perfectly executed Memphis style ribs. Our favorite side was the deep friend Mac & Cheese squares which were very creamy and delightful to bite into.
I personally have to root for Blackstrap BBQ because it has the persona of the underdog. The food is good and the prices are super reasonable. On the flip side – we weren’t blown away by any of the dishes and wouldn’t necessarily make the trip out to Verdun solely to eat here.
Let us know what style of ribs you really like and if you ARE a fan of Memphis style ribs, tell us what we’re missing out on!
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