BABY BLUES BBQ
by Carolyn Ward
444 Lincoln Boulevard (at Sunset)
Venice, California 90291
When Venice's Baby Blues BBQ first opened over a year ago, they had been reviewed in the L.A. Times and food critics had deemed them the "hottest new restaurant on the Westside". And it still is. It's usually packed, particularly on the weekends, and the place has a party atmosphere. If its a warm night, you can sit outside at the sidewalk tables. But Baby Blues is really all about the BBQ.
Their menu hasn't changed much since they opened, except for a noteworthy addition. Its a huge burger mixed with bleu cheese on a spectacular hard roll. You must try it. Their orginal menu is pretty much intact. I can recommend the Beer Braised Beef Brisket Plate, the "Memphis Queen," a platter of 1/2 baby and 1/2 Memphis ribs, and sandwiches like their Jack Louisiana Sausage Sandwich, Catfish Sandwich, and Shrimp Sandwich. These are served with a crisp cole slaw on the roll. The slaw is finely shredded, relatively dry and lightly seasoned - a refreshing compliment to the BarBQ fare.
One time the owner, Danny Fisher recommended I try the Marion County BarBQ Chicken which was roasted with spices. The roasted skin was crispy and the meat was perfect - just moist enough. After a few bites, I tried it with the BarBQ sauce that is in large bottles on the tables. The sauce was so good. They also have a "hot" BarBQ sauce that is tangy but not really hot. Danny said it ís because of a bit of vinegar added. Really makes an interesting flavor with the chicken.
They also have a long list of 'Fixins for your side dishes. My favorites are the Pork n' Beans, a mixture of black and pinto beans with just enough brown sugar and a lot of shredded pork on the top. Unbelievable. Another great fixins is "sweet mash" (sweet potatoes). The "sweet mash" is not the sickening syrupy kind you have at your aunt's Thanksgiving table. This one tastes naturally like sweet potatoes but mashed to a delicate texture. Also, there is creamed spinach that is not overpowered with cream, so you can taste the fresh spinach. Corn on the Cob is also a fixin, but you never tasted one like this before. It has spices and some cheese. And can't forget the mac n' cheese which is very creamy with cheesy breadcrumbs that add crunch. The plates and platters come with cornbread that is crusty outside and moist inside with some corn kernels baked in it. Truly perfect.
To finish with dessert they usually offer Key Lime Pie that has a very thin graham cracker crust with a sharp and sweet filling, Banana Cream Pudding and Pecan Pie. Try to leave room for a taste of these.
A little backstory folklore on the owners and how they luckily for us, located in Venice. They are Danny Fischer (from Brooklyn) and James Peterson (from North Carolina) who had worked together in restaurants in New York City and often talked about opening a gourmet BBQ restaurant. They lost touch over the years until James, visiting Los Angeles, went into the old Rib place at this location and saw a "Business For Sale" sign.
He called his old friend Danny on his cell phone (thinking he was still in New York) to see if he was still interested in opening a restaurant. When James asked him if he knew where Venice Beach was, Danny answered I live there. Turns out he lived across the street from Baby Blue's on Sunset. They met two minutes later out in front - both holding cell phones!!! Unbelievable, don't you think? And, extremely lucky for all of us.
Besides the dining room, Baby Blues has a counter of blue tile that seats 6 across from their stainless kitchen where you can watch them cook.
They are open 'till 10PM school nights and midnight on Friday and Saturday Night. And they deliver. Just call (310-396-7675).
Baby Blues BarBQ is making Lincoln Blvd a great place to go for a meal and visit with neighbors. Thanks, Baby Blues for landing in Venice.