Westport News (CT)

November 24, 2004
Original Barbecue on Main Street

There's a new restaurant in town and this one's a little different for these parts. Bobby Q's Barbeque & Grill opened Nov. 1 on Main Street in the space previously occupied by Onion Alley. And, although Bobby Q's serves barbecue, that's not all they're about.
Bobby LeRose, co-owner with his wife, Kelley, said they wanted make it a gathering place where people of all ages and gustatorial proclivities would feel at home. So, the restaurant has an expanded menu that includes seven salads, four wraps, nine sandwiches and a children's menu. The LeRoses have two children, ages 8 and 5, and are sensitive to offering a diverse menu.
The restaurant also serves up a variety of beverages including 60 name-brand wines by the bottle, four beers on tap, a number of other beers, soda, iced tea, coffee and a house limeade.
The LeRoses, who both grew up in Greenwich, got into the whole barbecue thing because Kelley's father lives in Kansas City. For the past 20 years or so, LeRose said, the couple has been going to Kansas City and, while eating there, began to wonder why they couldn't find the same type of food in Connecticut. "Eventually, it turned into a we oughta' kind of thing," said LeRose.
As barbecue is getting more exposure and becoming more mainstream, the couple decided the time was right.
"We wanted to serve not only the best barbecue in Connecticut but barbecue on a level with Kansas City, Texas, Memphis and the Carolinas," said LeRose. "And we didn't want to copy anybody. To me, for barbecue to be authentic, it has to be your own." As a result, the restaurant developed its own style of barbecue. It's dry rubbed with a rub of their own creation and hickory smoked on the premises, upstairs in a smoker that can accommodate up to 600 pounds.
Each table is stocked with four sauces, all developed in house: chipotle, sassy sauce, house original and honey molasses. Future plans include bottling and selling the house original and sassy sauces.
LeRose said he barbecued in his back yard with his smoker, perfecting recipes. "It's a big step from cooking in your back yard to mass producing," said LeRose, who has a day job involving consumer products and performance enhancement. Consequently, he wanted to put together a good team. He brought in Dana Smith Jr. as the chef and Karen Harvey as the general manager. Smith was previously with Tartine, a restaurant that used to be located in Sconset Square.
LeRose said they looked for a location in Fairfield County for more than two years before they heard about Onion Alley. They liked the look of it, the wood and thought the rustic feel would work well for a restaurant featuring barbecue.
LeRose said a lot of time was spent cleaning up. Every inch of wood, and there's a lot of it, was sanded down and restained. They ripped up the old carpet and installed an unusual, artistic cement floor. The wood floors on the second floor were restored. The retail area at the entrance to the restaurant has been eliminated and is now casual seating with two high-definition TVs.
The restaurant has all-new lighting and is brighter as a result. The walls are adorned with artwork related to barbecue and music. They play music, mostly blues, as background. LeRose handpicked all of the artwork and music. He burned 25 CDs for use in the restaurant.
Once they get settled, LeRose said they will probably bring in some live entertainment for Friday and Saturday night or even Sunday afternoon. "We plan to reopen the roof deck for events in the spring."
Signature dishes include a frizzled onion appetizer, thin sliced onion lightly fried and served with a chipotle mayo. In terms of entrees, the restaurant serves a St. Louis Rib, a pork rib smoked for four to six hours. They also offer a beer can half chicken, the chicken is dry rubbed and set on open beer can. The evaporating beer keeps the chicken moist as it cooks in the oven.
Other popular items include Grady's Southern Style Pulled Pork, an original which features a clear onion vinegar sauce and a red onion vinegar sauce originally from Alabama mixed together and topped with coleslaw.
LeRose said he has been surprised by the popularity of Burnt Ends, cubes of brisket smoked for 15-16 hours. He described them as tender but very smokey. "It's the most smoked thing we serve and it's selling surprisingly well, said LeRose. "People complain when we don't have it."
For dessert, there's a fried twinkie, a dish sometimes found at state fairs. All of the desserts are their own recipes.
If you don't see what you want, talk to LeRose. He says the menu isn't carved in stone.
Bobby Q's Barbeque & Grill is located at 42 Main St. The kitchen is open from 11:30 a.m. until 9:30, Monday through Thursday; from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday and from 11:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, call the restaurant at 454-7800.

Author: Will Rowlands wrowlands@bcnnew.com
Section: Local/Regional