There's no shortage of good barbecue restaurants opening these days. With places like Sheila's Famous BBQ Conch and More in Lake Worth and the second installment of Texas Hold 'Em coming to the Gateway in Fort Lauderdale, there's good 'cue within reach of just about everyone. Now add East Coast BBQ to that list of stellar new spots for slow and low cookery. The 3-week-old barbecue joint off East McNab Road in Pompano Beach is already preparing some authentic Southern cookery with a high-tech, modern twist.
What's high-tech about cooking for hours with wood smoke? Well, it's all
in East Coast's smoker. Instead of burning with whole logs or wood
chips, the restaurant employs a $10,000-plus rotisserie pellet cooker
that uses compressed sawdust pellets
to impart all that heady smoke into the meat. The pellets, which look
something like what you might line a rabbit cage with, burn clean and
produce savory-thick smoke. They come in a variety of wood types as
well. East Coast uses a mixture of hickory and oak.
That pellet rotisserie is absolutely packed with whole chickens, juicy
Texas-style brisket, pork butt shoulders, kielbasa sausage, and racks
upon racks of St. Louis-cut ribs. Order to eat in the clean, sunny
restaurant and the chefs working in the steel-faced open kitchen will
remove your meat fresh from the smoker, slice off your portion, and
return it to the fire to cook and render. There are no steam trays
holding meat here.
Owners Dave and Lisa Audet are behind the counter 24/7. Lisa holds
down the register and to-go area while Dave mans the smoker and offers
customers visual tours of it. A retired charter-boat captain who left
that life to start cooking full-time, Audet is a self-professed barbecue
nut who owns several backyard smokers. His nautical past also explains
the restaurant's logo, a wide-smiling pig hooking a marlin from the
back of a fishing boat.
As of now, Audet says he's mostly happy with the 'cue coming out of his
high-tech smoker. His meaty St. Louis ribs feature a hearty layer of
bark and a vibrant pink smoke ring. The interior meat is juicy, hot,
and tender as could be. His brisket is equally delicious, sporting a
smoke ring so red and pronounced that it looks painted on with a magic
marker. Texas-style sausage is dynamite stuff, as are homemade baked
beans, moist cake-like corn bread, and some of the finest waffle-cut
sweet potato fries you're likely to find.
Still, Audet isn't fully satisfied yet. He says his ribs still need work, but most of that has to do with getting consistently sized racks from
his suppliers. As for me, I'd also suggest he work on the sauce. The
plain-Jane, Kraft-style tomato sauce didn't add much to the meat. I left it off my 'cue on a recent
visit and didn't miss it at all. The dry-rubbed meat needed no help.
I'll tell you this, though: If East Coast continues to get better from here, there will be a new barbecue king in
town for sure. The only other real problem is signage. The restaurant is
difficult to spot, tucked into the west corner of the Publix plaza on
McNab Road and Federal Highway. It doesn't help that the City of
Pompano is giving Audet fits about hanging his banner out front. Right
now, that colorful logo is simply hanging in the window.
But keep your eyes peeled and you'll be rewarded with some fine Southern cooking. Modern-style.
East Coast BBQ
949-B E. McNab Road, Pompano Beach 33060