Baby's A LIttle Closer: Baby Blues BBQ in West Hollywood
Due to Chowhound's policy for posting during a soft opening I delayed posting of this review until now.
We have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new Baby Blues BBQ in West Hollywood for a while now. I'd say we get over to the Venice original, oh, maybe a few times a year which is certainly not nearly enough. We love Baby Blues. Most importantly, the bbq is almost always near-perfect. Of course they have their off days, but most often it's smile-inducing stuff. And their apps and sides aren't too shabby either. Mac and cheese, corn on the cob, and the Suicide King (BBQ shrimp on cornbread with a sprinkling of cotija cheese) are great. The Venice branch is tiny and rustic, with loud and sultry blues and rock blaring and many sauce-covered fingers.
We read about Friday's soft opening on the Times' Daily Dish and on Thrillist the day before (Thank you!). On Friday afternoon, M called in our order and Tater and I headed over to the new Baby Blues after our day of shopping at the Grove. They actually didn't open until 6pm, so our 5:15 arrival was premature, but afforded us a slightly sneak preview of what's in store.
The West Hollywood branch is a totally different beast. The former Cha Cha Cha space, it's huge and the Baby Blues vibe works, though it's so different than the original. Much more glossy and gussied up. Chairs hanging off the beams, a picture of Mick Jagger by the bar, beer bottles lined up above the open kitchen, plenty of tables ready for the crowds.
Baby Blues is known for their cute and sweet servers (I happen to think the owners and cooks are easy on the eyes too! Danny and Rick from behind, below) and they've continued on the tradition here. What I took as a good sign, there were probably around ten front-of-house ladies preparing for the opening. As we walked in they warmly welcomed us and let us stroll around as we waited for our order.
I guess we were pretty inconspicuous as the manager (?) called a front-of-house meeting without realizing we were customers. When someone called this to his attention he celebrated us as the very first customers and we actually got a round of applause! How can you not love these guys? So down-to-earth, genuinely gracious and proud of bringing the simple pleasure of BBQ to the masses.
I asked the cooks where the meats were smoked and they (was that Grill Master Eddie Jimenez?) asked if we wanted to take a peek - um, yes! Making our way back into the kitchen, I made sure to protect my sweetie (I had him in the Ergo so he was nice and close) as we quickly gazed at those smoky beauties, slowly rotating around the smoker.
Soon enough, we got our order and off we went. Back at home we went through our bedtime ritual and as soon as Tater was sound asleep, we tore into our ribs, pulled pork sandwich, mac and cheese, and creamed spinach. The ribs were tender and succulent with that familiar smokiness. The pulled pork had a layer of slaw and a complexity that made it our favorite of the night. Mac and cheese, cornbread, and creamed spinach catapulted our meal into total decadence. The only thing missing was the vinegar-based sauce for the pulled pork, maybe to liquidy for take-out?
I'd say pretty wonderful for their very first order! Can't wait to go back and eat there, maybe for lunch as dinners out are now few and far between. And they say that Tater can eat whatever we eat after he turns one (in May!) so perhaps Baby Blues will be his first taste of BBQ (processed through the food mill, of course).
Baby Blues BBQ
7953 Santa Monica Blvd
I've been to the new location twice for lunch and it was great both times. I've been going to the original location since they opened. I love the place. I've noticed their cute and sweet servers as well and hope they'll take the new neighbor hood into consideration and add some cute and sweet waiters.
Already been to the new WeHo location twice (and going back again tonight) -- went once to try it and told so many friends about how great it was, they kept asking me to take them. The food is AMAZING, the servers are extremely nice and gracious, and the place is well laid out -- a lot easier to get a table than the Venice place, plus there's a valet parking lot.
Thanks, a_and_w. It's an extended, three-phase odyssey, each part lasting one or two centuries, or so my aching stomach believes.
I'm nearly done with the first phase -- visit 20-25 local places -- and will soon embark on the next one, a two-week driving trip around the Midwest, Texas, and the South. (I'm not going to directly compare Los Angeles to the stomping grounds of classic American BBQ, but I do want to check my memory of past greats.)
Then comes phase three, revisits to 10-12 local joints.
According to my BBQ attorneys, Grillburn, Rub & Sauceheimer, the U. S. Constitution requires all three parts. Obviously, I rejected the proffered alternative -- conduct the review in England, France, or Norway, instead, with their much-looser legal rules, although that Norwegian pulled lutefisk can be mighty tempting! ;-)
So the report is not yet "in the mail," but it's coming (and I have been noting intermediate results, here and there).