new Things I Ate in Cambodia: Squeal Barbeque: It's No Barbeque Town (but this is good)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Squeal Barbeque: It's No Barbeque Town (but this is good)

Squeal Barbeque
8400 Oak St
New Orleans, LA 70118-2046,
(504) 302-7370

New Orleans is no barbeque town. This comes as a bit of shock to many who assume that everywhere in the South boasts an abundance of smoked pig products, but NOLA is (as it is with most things) an exception to the rule - here, Creole and Cajun food and crawfish boils are king, not smoked-meat-in-your-backyard, and that's how it's been for a very long time.

Thankfully, Squeal Barbeque opened up on Oak Street in New Orleans a few years ago, providing a respectable outlet for smoked BBQ to an appreciative audience. Tulane kids love it, mainly because you can get enough food to surfeit yourself and a friend for like two days here (if you supplement with ramen and jello shots).

The menu has the expected selection of pulled pork, ribs, beef brisket, and chicken, as well as some more ambitious stuff - there's tacos, fried boudin balls, the house's take on shepherd's pie, pulled pork nachos and some other stuff that is switched out on a regular basis. There's a bacon brownie for dessert, as well as bread pudding. Bacon desserts are, to no one's surprise, a huge hit in New Orleans.

I like the experimentation these guys perform within the remarkably diverse world of smoked animal products. This is, needless to say, not the place to take your vegetarian hot date. Well. You can order the nachos sans meat. Also they have a salad. There's totally a salad.

I always get the combo plate with chicken and beef brisket, mostly because I like beef brisket and my North Carolina father refuses to make it for reasons of ideology. The chicken is also tasty and more importantly they give you half of a whole entire animal, which is great for reasons of both frugality and sheer gluttony.

Pretty good ribs here as well, although could be a bit more tender and juicy - don't know if this is a batch thing or what. There's only one sauce here, a thick tomato based variety, and you do have to ask them to bring it to you on the side which is a bit of an oddity. They should get a few more BBQ sauce varieties in here - mustard sauce, vinegar, maybe some of that white, mayo based Alabama stuff - and give you some options, says I. There's no shame in doing that in an urban setting. Also, I just really like regional variants on BBQ sauce.

They also pay attention to the side dishes here, which is a good thing, as they are often sorely under-utilized at some BBQ places. They have absolutely superb cheese grits here. I went here for my first dinner in New Orleans after about a year and almost got misty-eyed over the cheese grits and hush-puppies. It was a profound moment. The collard greens are also excellent, primarily because they put a LOT of pork in em'. They double-fry the fries for maximal crunchiness. I always make sure somebody else orders them so I can eat theirs. That's thinking ahead.

It's nice to sit outside on a tolerably breezy day at Squeal - watching the Oak Street evening traffic go by is always fun, and there's the Maple Leaf right up the street. One of the servers last time I was in had in fact just got back from Cambodia - we had probably overlapped in Phnom Penh - and pointed out his Angkor Beer shirt to me when he overheard me discussing Angkor with my friends. It's a small world. A small world that, in my experience, is extremely fond of grilled meat.

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