There are still changes afoot at Elliot Wolf's Fort Lauderdale barbecue restaurant Red Cow that in late May joined his growing restaurant empire that includes G&B Oyster Bar, Coconuts, and the Foxy Brown.
Wolf said it's the hardest opening he's yet to endure.
"Everyone has their interpretation of barbecue," he said. "Here we're opening something that kind of defies everyone's safety place, and we have to develop our own style."
The original beef ribs have been swapped for Wagyu ribs that "stand up better to smoking," he said.
They're still finding the hot spots on the 3,000-pound smoker that replaced the barbecue pit from the days when the Federal Highway space was occupied by Texas Hold 'Em. Days before opening, the team cooked more than 1,000 pounds of meat to see how small changes affected the results.
Chef Steve Shockey, a Dallas-area native who helped Wolf open G&B Oyster Bar, is running the smoker and rotisserie put in place of the open barbecue pit of the former restaurant.
The space has been redone with dark gray floors and weathered-looking wooden tables surrounded by chunky metal chairs painted red. There are a few backlit cutouts of cows, lots of nautical-looking stars reminiscent of the Texas flag, and a reminder to "Be Nice" painted on the walls.
The barbecue is of the dry-rub variety. If you're a fan of mustardy, vinegary Carolina barbecue or a die-hard Kansas City sauce freak, just calm down, OK? We can all live together in peace.
Along with dry-rubbed baby back ribs ($20) and a rotisserie chicken ($15) is a hanger steak ($23) that's smoked and braised before serving. The braising liquid is also used to make a barbecue sauce. There's your sauce. Relax.
Standard barbecue sides, like corn on the cob and hush puppies, can be had for $4. There are also a couple of out-of-the-ordinary options such as sweet potato grits and a cauliflower mash.
Despite the impressive-sounding menu, Wolf said he's gotten more feedback from Red Cow's first customers than from any of his other restaurants.
"We're far from perfect," he added, "and we're still evolving."
Red Cow is located at 1025 N. Federal Highway Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-652-1524.