Blackstrap BBQ: smoking meats

Food writer Joanna Fox reviews Blackstrap BBQ on Wellington in Verdun. Is it deserving of all its early hype?

Blackstrap BBQ in Verdun’s smoked meats are a hit
Photos by Dan Haber

When Clara Barron and Dylan Kier left Griffintown to open Blackstrap BBQ on Wellington St. in Verdun, they knew one thing for certain — they don’t kid around when it comes to meat.

Locals and Verdun tourists both rejoiced, giving the new restaurant owners and their southern fare heaping spoonfuls of enthusiasm and encouragement. So much so, that after only two weeks of being open, they routinely sell out of meats and are reportedly purchasing a bigger BBQ pit.

“Verdun has the best vibe for us,” Barron says. “There are lots of young families here, and the people are really nice. It just seems like it’s moving in the same direction as us — good food for good value.”

The restaurant’s small, narrow space is simple and streamlined with two big wooden tables in the front and counter stools that run the length of the bar facing the kitchen and along the opposite wall.

The food:
With counter service, you order, you pay and you wait until they call your name. If you’re eating in-house, your meal comes on a tray and is served in a metal kitchen bin normally used for mise-en-place and storage — smart and efficient.

Blackstrap boasts a variety of sandwiches, plates and salads to suit your meat preference: pork, brisket or turkey ($6.99-$15.99). They also offer chicken and ribs ($8.99-$23.99) and a handful of sides ($1.99-$3.99).

We sampled three sandwiches and three sides: the pulled pork, the brisket and the smoked turkey, along with mac ‘n’ cheese balls, fries and barbecued beans. The pulled pork was juicy and tender, amplified by the two homemade sauces on offer — sweet and spicy. The coleslaw piled on top of the generous handful of pork added the right amount of crunch, and the pickle, also on top, was the perfect sour accent.

Although the brisket was dry (drier than I know brisket naturally is), it was nothing those delicious table sauces couldn’t fix by adding a little juice to the mix. The turkey, my favourite part of the meal, was made up of nice thick slices of perfectly pink meat that were smoky, salty and really darn good. The sandwich buns were a milk bread version, minus the overly sweet taste associated with many brioches served with barbecue. The golden-fried mac ‘n’ cheese ball sides, a bite-sized serving of a childhood classic, really took this meal to the next level.

The verdict:
Not only are Blackstrap BBQ’s owners incredibly nice and friendly, you can really tell that the restaurant is a labour of love. After checking out the smoker in the back, with Kier showing off some pretty mean-looking ribs (he uses a mixture of maple charcoal, oak and applewood), I’m definitely coming back to sample more barbecue goodness. 

4436 Wellington
Tue-Sun: 11 a.m.–9 p.m.

In search of good fall eats? Check our list of new restos you should check out. We’ll be reviewing each entry in the coming weeks.

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