Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Boneheads - a Real BBQ Joint in Halifax

There's a new type of restaurant in Halifax - a BBQ Joint. Apparently many people around town are wondering just what a BBQ joint is. Well, if you've travelled in the Southern U S, then I don't have to tell you about slow smoking and fall of the bone ribs, beef brisket or pulled pork (I prefer mine in a sandwich).

If you want to know more about the history and particular speciality of each of the Southern states, check here. If you're like me, you'll just want to head on over to Boneheads BBQ in downtown Halifax for some very serious BBQ.

I've been lucky enough to enjoy pulled pork and ribs in New Orleans, Atlanta and my Honey has even made more stops at lots of Southern BBQ Joints on a road trip a few years ago. We both agree - Boneheads is just as delicious as anything we've had down south.

So good, in fact I had to have a chat with the main forces at Boneheads. Cindy Wheatley (on the right), owner and dreamer grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia and worked in Truro managing a restaurant there for a number of years. That said, she's long had a fascination with BBQ joints on her many travels down South. Not only because the food taste so great, but there's a special kind of atmosphere. The small, very casual neighborhood restaurants reminded her of "Cheers" - that TV show set in a bar "where everyone knows your name".

Cindy loved the whole package and started dreaming about owning her own BBQ Joint about eight years ago - wrote the business plan, bought a backyard smoker to experiment on and made many a trip south over the years.

Finally...an overnight success! In spite of the fact that most Haligonians didn't have a clue what a BBQ Joint was, and with zero advertising...the place was packed on opening day back in January, and still continues to be crazy busy. Word of mouth is definitely the best advertising of all. So busy, they still have trouble keeping up with the orders and, be prepared, the beef brisket goes quickly.

Graeme Pass (standing next to Cindy), is the chef extraordinaire, who runs the kitchen with Cindy. Another Nova Scotian native, but one with family roots in Georgia and South Carolina, where they definitely know their BBQ. With crowds daily, naturally my first question to Graeme was...what's the biggest challenge?

No surprise to the answer - finding and slow cooking enough meat to feed everyone! Neither Cindy nor Graeme expected such a crowd when they opened the doors. People were waiting in line and it remained that way all day! Now that they've established their local sources, things are much better. I'd been hearing the buzz from those who'd been and those who were going to check it out. And after my visit, it's easy to understand why the place is such a success.

I loved it from the moment I entered...great music, warm and welcoming decor, and the aroma...

If you look at the photo at the top, you can see beyond the counter, where you place your order, into the kitchen - which isn't much bigger than that. There's one large and one small smoker...that's what perfumes the restaurant and has you taking the biggest inhale you can as you walk in the door, but I digress. Between the limited kitchen space, and the fact that smoking is a long, slow process, it's hard to meet the needs of customers. Boneheads customers easily consume more than 80 racks of ribs and 300 pounds of pulled pork in a weekend!

Lunchtime favorites during the week...the sandwiches - pulled pork, beef brisket, shredded chicken, each for under $6 and all smoked to perfection.

I had an awesome half rack of ribs served with a side of beans (delicious, and my test of a good BBQ joint) and cole slaw. My Honey had the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich and hand cut fries, a meal made in Heaven and really reminded him of his road trip down South.

Another wonderful element, besides the very friendly staff, is that they source locally, and that includes the micro-brewery beer they sell. Kudos!

If you like BBQ, this is the place to go. Bring an appetite!

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