Going Whole Hog at BBQ Smokehouse in Sebastopol
BBQ Smokehouse is having a special menu the second Saturday of each month; I believe last month's goat was the first, today was a whole suckling pig and next month they are planning on lamb. Meats are sourced locally from Gleason Ranch.
We arrived shortly before the announced serving hour of 12pm as the pig (the cavity of which had been filled with shoulder) reposed beneath a foil tent, having been in the smoker since 9pm the prior night over oak and apple, bordered with chiles and contemplating the apple in its mouth. Pitmaster Larry Vito came out and began festivities by removing the skin and pulling the meat from the bone with the assistance of bear claws (which are a great product for BBQists, by the way), placing it in a nearby tray. Once preliminaries were disposed with, he seasoned the pulled meat liberally with rub and doused it with the exceptional for our area Piedmont-style sauce (which can also be found at each table), mixing the various cuts of pork together with the seasonings and sauce in true Carolina style.
Each $18 plate consisted of a generous portion of this delicious pork, collards and some of the best black-eyed peas (cooked with pork jowl) I’ve had. The meat was incongruously topped with a pico de gallo, which I scooted to the side over my collards where it found its true calling in adding a fresh and crunchy note to the well-cooked greens. We added a basket of cornbread which, like the other sides, was far superior to what I’m accustomed to being served in ‘cue joints. The pork was succulent and well-balanced, with smoke and high-quality porcine flavors in harmony. Perfectly tender chunks of shoulder retained their toothsome integrity lying alongside thick, pulled strands of rich melt-in-your mouth porky goodness. The seasoning was spot-on- I had no need to use the aforementioned sauce, good as it was. Sopping up the juices with cornbread took it over the top. This was the best barbecue I’ve eaten in a restaurant in a long time.
Larry is a very nice guy (as were all his staff) who really knows his ‘cue. I had been meaning to try this place for months; now I won’t pass Sebastopol without stopping in, if only for a pound of meat to go. I only glanced at the menu but smoked tongue caught my eye, and I was impressed that they offer burnt ends and rib tips. Lagunitas IPA on tap certainly doesn’t hurt. I think there was a featured wine paired with the pig but for me this is the epitome of beer food. A glass of Sanctification at nearby Russian River proved a wonderful palate-cleanser, Consecration an equally great dessert.
I’ll be circling the 2nd Saturday of each month on my calendar for the foreseeable future.
6811 Laguna Park Way, Sebastopol, CA 95472
Bodega, CA, Bodega, CA