Shipwreck Grill: Brielle, NJ
Ridgewood, NJ: more rain in '07

Bourbon BBQ: Wyckoff, NJ

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This sign might as well say:  "BBQ.  No nonsense, no B.S.  Come eat".   When you see a sign like this pop up in your area, you've gotta be happy.

Happy is what I've been for about 6 months waiting for Bourbon BBQ to open in the old Clixes (RIP) space on Goffle Road in Wyckoff.  The addition of a BBQ restaurant to the area is good news enough, but when you know it's Chef Gary Needham manning the smoker, well, people, it's your lucky day. 

I've been touting Chef Gary's BBQ since my first bite at his other restaurant, Ridgewood's Silver Oak Bistro.  I'm relatively confident that Chef Gary knew he made great BBQ well before I came along and announced it, but I can't help but think that I had at least just a little to do with the emergence of this latest venture.  If you'll allow me to indulge:  toot, toot.  You're welcome.

Bourbon BBQ had a grand opening party on Saturday June 30th (2007, for the benefit of those of you from the future), which I didn't make.  However, me and about 400 other people made their way over on its first official day of operation.

Before I get going, let me just say this.  People, listen up:  If you're going to go to a restaurant on its first day, week, or even month of business, don't expect things to be running smoothly.  Don't be shocked when you get cole slaw instead of mac and cheese.  Don't go when there's a line 20 deep and expect to grab a quick bite and be out in 10 minutes.  And for Pete's sake don't get mad at your servers.  How would you like it if I came to your job on your first day and busted your balls and treated you like an idiot?  I'm confident you wouldn't like that (I'm really good at it).  In fact, it's probably good practice to not treat people as if they were idiots even if it's not the first day of their new job...even if they happen to be idiots (not the case at Bourbon).

Bourbon was indeed in the weeds for the entirety of my meal.  Orders were brought out incorrectly, and some people waited for their food for quite a long time.   But, if you were patient enough to deal with the chaos of the opening weekend of what will be a very popular restaurant, you were treated to some very good St. Louis style BBQ.

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The "ribs and tips" consist of spare ribs, and the brisket bit, which is separated from the ribs to make the "tips".  The smoke flavor was evident, but not overpowering.  Much to my surprise, the ribs didn't seem to have much rub on them.  The rub, if any, certainly wasn't sweet, that's for sure.  These are definitely not sweet ribs, but rather the pork and smoke flavor are the stars.  The ribs are also somewhat charred, so I'm thinking they finish the slabs on a grill.  That's a nice touch.  Juicy, and just tender enough (they weren't falling off the bone as if they were boiled).

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The pulled pork was served simply on your choice of bread (white, rye or wheat) with onions and pickles and no sauce.  I've never associated onions with BBQ, but onions are a welcomed addition to any sandwich.  Each table has Chef Gary's sauce on it (both mild and hot), so you'll have to opportunity to dress the pork to your liking.  The pulled pork is chopped, not shredded, and was porky, chunky and moist.  However, I did enjoy it more with some hot sauce and BBQ sauce.

We tried a couple of sides, including a delicious cole slaw, good baked beans (although there wasn't much evidence of smoky pork leftovers in them), and mac and cheese, which didn't come close to what Chef Gary is doing with mac and cheese at Silver Oak Bistro.  In fact I'd skip it next time.

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At Bourbon, you wait in line to order and pick up your food which is wrapped in butcher paper and on a tray.  I love the casual approach, the comfortable road-housey decor, and the plentiful parking.  I have a feeling this place is going to be rocking and rolling.  If you're curious and dying to try it, do them a favor and go over on off hours, or just hold off until they get their sea legs. 

Bourbon BBQ : 529 Goffle Rd : Wyckoff, NJ : 201.444.6661 : BYOB

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