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Sep 27, 2011 07:39 AM

Smoke & Barrel

New BBQ spot - to try

Opening today from the guy behind Meridian Pint, Barrel's transformed Asylum's top floor into a haven of all things bourbon-y, crafty, and smoked, with an AK-imported pitmaster dishing his best in a wood-heavy interior rocking stools cut to mimic the curvature of barrel staves, and a bar made out of Amish mushroom wood -- also what's behind some of the craziest Rumspringa stories ever!!

All the meat's actually smoked w/ reclaimed bourbon barrels (presumably after they removed Rip Torn from desperately licking any last traces) and is closest in style to Memphis, with goodness including espresso-rubbed beef brisket, pulled pork shoulder, ¼ dark or light chicken, and smoked sausage; there's also super-serious ribs basted w/ their spicy chipotle honey butter, or done up “all rub”.

For beers, they've got 25 cans, and another 25 drafts, like an American imperial from Evil Twin Brewing called Soft Dookie, Royk Uten Ild "smoke beer" from Norway, and a tripel from Stillwater called Rule of Thirds, which Kirstie Alley insists is "always get them".

And to ensure you're ready for the downstairs dance party when Asylum starts getting weird, there're 45 bourbons and whiskeys, plus beer/shot combo “boiler crafters” like “Governor Hal” with Woodford Reserve & Gubna, and "Scotchy Scotch Scotch" with Glenfiddich and Old Chub, not to be confused with Old Chump, which is now what you can call anyone who says that all good BBQ comes from Carolina, KC, or Texas.
2471 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009 | 202-319-9353 |

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  1. Another place to throw into the BBQ fray. I don't go to Adams Morgan unless someone is taking me, but I'll be eager to hear reports from the fans of Memphis style BBQ.

    Odd that a sandwich with slaw costs than a 1 meat platter with 1 side. Are rolls THAT expensive? Or is it a pricing thing that people who are there for the beer are more likely to order a sandwich than a platter?

    3 Replies
    1. re: MikeR

      Memphis style bbq should use hickory. Those barrels are probably oak.

      1. re: Steve

        Do they have mesquite trees in Memphis? I know they have plenty of oak trees.

        1. re: MikeR

          I've never heard of mesquite in Memphis 'cue. Of course, some places use only charcoal which produces a rather flat taste to me. That woodsmoke bite is my primary interest in bbq.

    2. They offer BBQ Tofu.

      I'm not sure what to think about that.

      4 Replies
      1. re: laststandchili

        BBQ Tofu - I give them extra points for trying something new to this area

          1. re: laststandchili

            I'll bet they don't do that in Texas, except for the frou-frou-BBQ places, of which I'm sure there are some.

            1. re: laststandchili

              I've actually had bbq tofu before. Since it has almost no flavor at all, it absorbs a lot of smoke; the low-slow cooking pulls a lot of the moisture out, giving it a somewhat "burger-ey" texture. It all comes down to the quality of their rub/sauce. And grilled/smoked tofu/tempeh is pretty big in Asian cultures. As someone who's had to cut back on the smoked meats for medical reasons, kudos to these guys for offering it. There's also the woefully underserved vegetarian contingent who'd have almost nothing to eat at this place when they get dragged along by their friends to try the latest hip urban bbq joint.

              1. re: MTP

                don't forget the high priced burger joints

              2. so i tried it out last night-had a half slab of dry ribs with sauce on the side. my friend got the pulled pork platter

                i can't really say that you can taste the barrel-smoked element, but i will say that both were cooked very well, with nice overall flavour and not at all dried out. worth checking out.

                1. Went on the opening night. The BBQ was decent enough. The brisket isn't any competition for the "moist brisket" at Hill Country. The pork was pretty good. Sides were fine (fried okra and sweet potato).

                  The tap list is outstanding, though. A very, very well chosen selection (which on this night included an oak cask of Aecht Schlenkerla Marzen mounted on the bar). This instantly becomes one of the top five places to drink beer in the city.