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The Blues of Venice

Baby Blues BBQ
444 Lincoln Boulevard
Venice, Ca 90291

Written by Guest Reviewer,
Chris Davis

GOOD DAY MUNCHERS

When you think of Southern California, most think of beaches, Hollywood, blonde chicks, low riders, tacos, surfers, Los Angeles, and weed. The one thing you don’t think of is barbecue. Well let me be the first one to tell you it’s the one thing you’re missing out on.

On my last trip to LA I decided to go scouring for something different in a place you wouldn’t expect it. Well I found just the place. Baby Blues BBQ on Lincoln Blvd in Venice is the spot.  Just 10 minutes from the ocean on what seems like the longest of streets is this blue joint, right on the corner.

Now let me tell you first I’m somewhat of a barbecue fanatic. I’ve had it from The Carolinas, to Georgia, to California, to Portland, to Oakland, and Nevada. So I know what taste I’m looking for and I know what’s good. So whether it’s Korean barbecue, or Hawaiian, to Memphis style, I know it.

And now back to the place in question. On the outside is this very blue exterior with a really cool mural of Boss Hogg from The Dukes of Hazard with a few chicks; you can’t miss this place when driving up the boulevard.  The awnings are blue, the paint on the walls is blue but let’s get to the food…………it wasn’t blue.

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On walking in to this shabby place you’re greeted with a smile and taken to a table.  I went mid-day so there wasn’t much of a crowd inside. The walls are adorned with country memorabilia posters from native North Carolina as well as other little odds and ends. The menu isn’t too much, which is a good thing when I want to order food and not read War & Peace.

My waitress wasn’t the most attentive in the world and reminded me of something out of Woodstock. I ordered the sweet tea, which is somewhat of a rarity in California because in most cases it’s served UN-sweet. But when there’s barbecue on the menu IT BETTER BE SWEET or shut the doors, never to return. So she brings it out and I was surprised, it was near perfection.  It wasn’t too sweet and just the right amount of tea and lemon,- score one!

sweet tea

Finally after reading the menu, I decided on “The Porker” which consisted of a 1/3 rack of ribs, a ‘fixin’ of which I settled on coleslaw and this cornbread.  The service was FAST so I ordered and within 5 to 7 minutes it was on my table. There’s a few sauce choices on the table for you to pick from. On one of the bottles pictured, one side says “XXX” and if you turn it around, it says “Porno”. Well in my mind that says that it’s hot but a not too hot. I like porn but I wouldn’t equate it to any kind of sauce………least of all a red one…..ICK.

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So now back to the food. The ribs were as tender as I’ve ever had them. I barely put two fingers to them to take a piece and they just fell apart in my hand. These were well smoked and lightly sauced as not to overpower the food with it. It had a good spice to it and was very mellow with a extra nice taste. The coleslaw wasn’t much of a co-star but had a good consistency; not too sweet with the right amount of mix to cabbage. For me, the better part of the plate was the cornbread. While most cornbread’s have a tendency to be either dry and in need of butter, or  they are crumbly and without real taste, – this stuff was on a different level in the OTHER direction. I thought it had a very dense consistency, and I wasn’t wrong. Once you bite into it you catch little bits of corn and it’s a very wet cake, and JUST AWESOME.

ribs

Before I forget, you’ll notice in most of my blogs I’ll usually try some sort of alcoholic drink just because it compliments the food and hey…….I drink. But in Baby Blues BBQ you’ll sadly be left boozeless as they don’t serve beer nor alcohol, which TOTALLY invalidates the “southern beer can windchime” . Two points in the minus for that.

In the end I was satisfied with the portion size, price, and taste of the food. The service needs some attention and the look of the place could use a little pizazz.

Foodie Rating: 6 forks out of 10.

Enjoy and happy chowing!!

Chris Davis

blueforkinfoodiestamp

Baby Blues BBQ on Urbanspoon

My Lake Chalet

Lake Chalet
Seafood Bar and Grill
1520 Lakeside Drive
Lake Merritt, Oakland

(Guest review for Forkin’ Foodie by Chris Davis)

And good day to you fellow Foodies!!

When you watch a ton of food shows you know they’re
ALWAYS going to end up in the San Francisco Bay area at some point in time and rest assured they always miss a
few gems. Most times it’s because they stick to the pretensions of the slightly snobby places that serve vichyssoise
for $20 per bowl.

Sorry, but there’s no cold potato soup worth that much……….EVER.

Oakland gets a bad wrap with a high crime rate, terrible cops, and the Raiders. But it’s actually a nice place once you open your eyes.
And that brings us to dinner at Lake Chalet.

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Off the bat it sounds like something you’d need a three-week advance
reservation at, but alas you’d be WRONG. Nestled on the newly remodeled section of Lake Merritt
in downtown Oakland you’ll see it. Oh and regarding the MASSIVE oak tree that was blown over
in a storm a few months ago, you may look at it like an eyesore but it actually gives a little character to see
the roots, which then leads to a deeper meaning… (yeah Oakland is kinda like that).

Now onto the location – I’ve come here a few times before to hear a band play on the back deck which is right on the water. There’s
pretty sweet happy hour pricing and they carry a wide variety of booze and wines. The raw bar is stocked with some of the
freshest oysters the coast has to offer and the drinks are excellent.

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I went last night for dinner with some family and decided to get something different, right up until I saw somebody with the same thing a couple of tables away. First was the Buttermilk Calamari with an aioli and wasabi cocktail dipping sauce. I’m not a fan of wasabi so I
nudged it to the side. As a main plate I ordered the Pork Short Ribs (Secret Spice Rub, Sticky Glaze, Peanuts, Sesame Seeds), Parmesan Kennebec Fries, and a house salad. This was all was held down with a bottle of Chimay Red label ale.

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SIDENOTE: As an avid foodie and cook , it seems by what feels like divine reason, I dissect nearly everything I eat. That’s the great
part about eating out. It’s that you have a great dish, and either take it back home to re-create it, or you simply do it from
memory (when it’s JUST that good that a to-go box is not possible). So if you see me with a perplexed look on my face
just know that that’s my inner scientist look, and I’m just trying to figure out what the dish is comprised of, as to reinvent it at home.

Service here for a lightly busy Sunday evening was pretty good. The waitress was a bit flighty and I felt like she was rushing but who
knows what other tables had given her Hell before she got to us, so we were nice.

The calamari comes out and was pretty basic.
A simple buttermilk dredged selection with a dusting of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

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After a few minutes the rest of the food came to the table and here is where I knocked them a point. In any simple situation, the salad, when ordered with a full other plate is treated as an appetizer. Therefore, when I ordered the salad, it should come out along side whatever appetizer was ordered, in this case the calamari. So as everything else is being dished out I’m bombarded with now three plates, as the fries and ribs are plated separately.

The salad is a simple mix of greens tossed in a vinaigrette, with pears and goat cheese.

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The fries were something I was slightly disappointed in, as the description indicated a Kennebec potato and turned out to be something straight out of a bag that I could have gotten at any burger joint, but the parmesan was a nice touch.

Now onto the real shining star of the night:

The Pork Spare Ribs.

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Of all the reviews I normally do it’s generally a barbecue place because it’s my main love. I ordered the starter size because I wasn’t going to sit there and go crazy on a full rack. So the three come out with a nice cilantro garnish with sesame seeds. The smell is AMAZING; it’s a spicy and sweet smell that catches you first, and then you grab one…..

I barely had two fingers on it when it just fell apart at the touch. That’s the sign of a good rib. After the first taste of the glaze I was hooked. Pull-apart-tender, with a spicy, almost Sriracha and hoisin taste  with maybe a hint of honey. These were worth the wait and something to come back for on the return.

Overall this is one of Oakland’s gems and a place that I can call a regular spot. I visit mostly in the spring and summer,
when the freshest produce and seafood is put on display and in the menu.

Happy Chowing folks!!!

Chris Davis

Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon