For nearly 30 years, drummer Nicko McBrain has toured the world as part of one of the greatest rock bands of all time, Iron Maiden. He's played arenas and festivals, in front of tens of thousands of people in places Bangalore, India and Gothenburg, Sweden, and hundreds of thousands in Brazil. And throughout that time traveling from city to city, McBrain didn't just perform great; he also ate exceptionally well.
Now McBrain -- who lives in South Florida when he's not embarking on world-wide tours with Maiden -- is taking that knowledge of food he's gleaned over the years and partnering up with close friend, guitarist, and restaurateur Rick "Moby" Baum to open Rock 'N' Roll Ribs. A barbecue joint with a musical bent, RnR Ribs will showcase the pair's love for smokey Southern cooking with food like barbecued pork and chicken and clever takes on Maiden songs like "Run to the Hills" wings. Clean Plate Charlie spoke with McBrain and Baum about their plans for the rib shack, their BBQ background, and how it all came together in the first place.
New Times: So Nicko, sounds like you're something of a foodie.
Nicko: Oh, without a doubt. I'm a right snob when it comes to food. I know what I like and what I don't like.
So when did you first get into barbecue?
Nicko: I don't know when I became a fan exactly, but touring America
[with Maiden] we came to a lot of barbecue joints, probably because most of them had a nice bar. And then I fell into back garden parties
and barbecuing in general.
How did you two meet?
Nicko: We actually met through Rick's friend Nathan who is a friend of my son Justin. After we met
we got to know one another a bit and beat each other up a couple of times. Then we
started playing music together and we've had a great friendship ever since. Later on, I found out
Rick was a chef extraordinaire.
When did you guys start barbecuing together?
Nick: In a nutshell, Rick came 'round my house
one day and said, 'Nicko, I have these amazing ribs I want you to try.' And he
cooked them up for me and I thought, 'Well, I've always loved spare ribs but these are to die for.' So I
finally squeezed his bullocks a bit to get his recipe.
Rick: He actually did.
Nicko: Yes, I squeezed it right out. [Laughs] So we started concocting these
ribs together. I'd do some ribs, he'd do some, and we'd go back and
forth. One day I put a sauce together; I basically added some things to
what he already had and he actually complimented me and said, like, [in a thick British accent] 'Blimey, this sauce
So when did the idea for a restaurant come about?
Nicko: We were down at the pub one night and down a few
beers and I said, 'This is a fucking great idea, let's open a rock 'n'
joint together.' That was about five or six years ago. We had a couple
starts looking for the right location and all, but Rick has some
setting up restaurants over the last 20 years or so, so he knows what
to do. And
a friend of ours works for Cheney Brothers, so we had access to the
ingredients. We just had to find the right location and funding. Another
friend of ours Mitch Tanne and I brought the financing, and Rick brings
his expertise and knowledge of
cooking and running a small kitchen. Our kitchen is small, and the
place seats about 70 people. The cooking will be
mayhem I think, but it's going to be quite rock and roll.
How did you guys formulate the menu?
Nicko: We pretty much sat down and concocted all these
different names for dishes with a rock theme. We collaborated on what we're going to sell and
how we're going to cook it, but Rick really spent the majority of time
pulling it together. We have a nice beer and wine license for
the premises, and we're going to have great food.
Rick: The menu, as far as the food goes, is
basic barbecue with a few twists here and there. But what's great is
we laid it out. It's all on these Ticketmaster ticket stubs and
everything is jokes and rock cliches, so it's a basic menu but with
real cool twists and turns. [See the menu here.]
So what are your barbecue preferences? What styles do you like?
Southern style. Wet and sweet, basically. I don't go for Memphis too
much, but I do like dry rubs. And I don't go for Texas style with brisket or beef ribs. I pretty much like pork. Baby backs, spare ribs, pulled
pork, all Southern style.
Is that how you're going to cook yours?
Nicko: The sauces and
the way we cook the ribs are very important, obviously. I have some
pretty good taste, myself. I play in one of the top rock and roll
bands in the world and I hope that experience crosses over to the
restaurant. When it comes to barbecue everyone has their own
what not, but I know how much I love the ribs this geezer cooks here,
so I can say that we're going to be one of the best if not the best
without a doubt.
I assume you'll be smoking them, what type of wood and process will you use?
Nicko: There's an old adage in the industry. When people ask what kind
of songs you're going to play on this tour I just say, 'I could tell
you but I'd
have to kill you.' [Laughs]
Rick: I can tell you this, we're going to have a tomato based sauce
that's sweet and dark and we're going to start with the smoker, then a
bunch of other secret stuff will happen, then we'll finish them on the
grill to caramelize.
Obviously people are going to want to see you guys at the restaurant. Will you both be hands on with it?
Rick: I've been here every day mopping and painting walls and getting this place ready!
Nicko: I just hope he's a better chef than he is a
cleaner! I had a ball and chain made up for him meself; it's about
18-feet-long so he can still get around and use the bathroom and such.
yes, of course, Rick will be here and I will be coming in when I'm in
town to make sure our ribs are still fricken great. And I'll put a
chefs hat on
and have a go, so yeah. We were toying with the idea of having a
special night every month or bimonthly where we have an English themed
and I come in and cook like a traditional English dish.
What sort of stuff will you cook?
Well you know, like proper fish and chips with like mashy peas, baked
and gherkins. Or a roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and mashed
potatoes and a medley
of veg. But I'm not a big fan of broccoli, I think you guys eat too
much of that over here. And probably roast chicken with bread sauce and
sage and onion
stuffing, shepherd's pie, like classic fare I know I can cook. The most
I've ever cooked for is like 10 people, but you know you just double it
and the rest is gravy. But my secret is potatoes. I make the best
roast potatoes you've ever had. I'll be wearing a white hat for sure,
and I've already got me chefs pants on. I'm wearing them right now
Do you think you guys will play music at the restaurant?
discussed it. We do have the facility to put a stage in with a
small section and equipment on it because Rick's going to have some of
his guitars and some of my drums will be there. It's not going to be a
Hard Rock Cafe with the memorabilia and such. We're not having Motley
Crue's guitars here, unless
they come and eat maybe. [Laughs] But what
we will do is if someone wants to have a private party we have the
ability to host a small band with a PA system, so you will be able to
play live music. We won't be making it a
live gig venue at first, but when things progress who knows. It could
become like a jam night or open mic situation in the future.
Will you guys hold a grand opening?
Nicko: We'll have a soft opening towards the end of November, but I'm going to London for a few months and when i
get back before Christmas we're going to have a Grand Old Man opening.
And when we do the Grand Old Man opening there will definitely be live
music and probably a tent out front in the lot.
Are there hopes of a chain in the future?
Oh, without a doubt, but this one's the primary right now so the energy
is focused here. We hope in a year to two people will look at this and
be like, 'Hey, nice, what's going on here?' And maybe we'll do sauces
or go national after that. But the emphasis is on service, price, and
quality. And I don't want to toot my own horn, but I'm sort of a big
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name in rock and roll. With the theme, who knows: World domination!
Rock 'N' Roll Ribs
4651 State Rd. 7, Suite 1, Coral Springs 33076