Exploring the Culinary Culture of Madison, Wisconsin and Surrounding Area

First Look at Brickhouse BBQ

By on February 28, 2010 in Downtown, New Restaurants, Reviews with 2 Comments

Brickhouse BBQ (see here for location and hours) has finally opened their doors in downtown Madison.  Featuring Memphis/Kansas City style barbecue, this establishment is brought to you by the same people who bring you Samba Brazilian Grill, The Churchkey and Badger Liquor.  We gave the place a first look for lunch recently, with very mixed results.

As is always the case, we start by using the following disclaimer – a first look at a place is just that – giving it a try before they may have worked the kinks out.  It takes a while for a restaurant to settle in and show its true colors, both good and bad. 

We intended to start with an appetizer of the BBQ Ribs ($9.75).  The menu billed this item as individual pork ribs served on a bed of crispy onion strings with Brickhouse Original BBQ sauce.   We say we intended to start with that, but that isn’t the way that it worked out.  We watched as the server took our order on a nifty electronic device, and then disappeared.  We then waited for our appetizer for around 40 minutes — all the while envying the tables around us who had ordered after we did and were already eating (and finishing!) their entrees.

After around 40 minutes, our server reappeared and told us that there had been a problem “getting the ticket to the kitchen” or some such thing.  After about 50 minutes everything came out of the kitchen all at once – our appetizers, sandwiches and sides all made a joint appearance.  To make matters worse, all of our food was at best room temperature, and at worst, just plain ole cold.

We’re not sure how the food could have been served to us at this temperature, logistically.  We also would have appreciated it if we would have been consulted about the timing of the appetizer in relation to the timing of the sandwiches.  But, it was what it was.

On to the food though.  The ribs were not individual, as promised by the menu.  If you had intended to share this appetizer with a group rather than with an close friend, it would have been a little awkward given that the ribs needed to be manhandled to be pulled apart into an appetizer to be shared with more than one.  It is possible that the kitchen knew that there were two of us at the table and so they divided the appetizer up into two portions.  This would have been a showing of remarkable thought and organization however, and it would have been the only one experienced on this trip — so we doubt that this was the case.  The “bed” of crispy onion straws was pretty sparse.  But the ribs were good.  The sauce was not cloying or sweet.   We’d order the ribs again, but probably as an entree.

Also ordered was the Sausage Sandwich ($8.25), described by the menu as Smoked sausage, grilled, and served with Brickhouse Mustard BBQ sauce and pickled peppers.  This sandwich would have been excellent had it been served warmer than room temperature.  It was overflowing with slightly smoky, slightly spicy sausage with a really very good tangy mustard sauce. 

Cheddar Grits had been ordered as the side, and while we understand that grits are a down-home rustic food, these had too many large clumps of grits to allow us to rave about them.  Still, the flavor was what one would expect.

The Pulled-Pork sandwich ($7.75) was described as slow smoked pork shoulder, shredded, and topped with coleslaw and Brickhouse Original BBQ sauce.  We dubbed this sandwich the “Poorly Pulled-Pork Sandwich”, and not only because of the tongue twister opportunity.  There were very large clumps of pork in the sandwich which made it somewhat awkward to eat.  The flavor was there, once again – it was the execution that needed attention.  The coleslaw should have made more of an impression than it did, but it was okay.

The fries were good – crispy and tasty, and the homemade pickle slices were really very good.

The interior of this new restaurant clearly shows that they are going for more of an urban BBQ restaurant versus a down-home bbq joint.  They did a very good job at remodelling the place, and the three floors (with a very good sized rooftop outdoor deck) will easily handle the crowds that will inevitably make their way there before Kohl Center events.

So, to wrap it up, our first look at Brickhouse BBQ turned up a lot of execution errors that we hope will be worked out in the upcoming weeks.  If not, we are not convinced that, while the food is good, it is good enough to overcome the execution.

Brickhouse BBQ on Urbanspoon

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There Are 2 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Kat says:

    The actual building is really cool and loft like but te dining experience leave a bit to be desired. Because of the loft like atmosphere it is REALLY loud inside the restaurant. I also wasn’t all that impressed with the food-it was just fine; not great, not terrible. My husband and I will not be going back there any time soon if ever.

  2. Dewayne says:

    I went on a Tuesday evening around 7:15, was promptly greeted by the host whom I told there would be two of us, and was asked to wait at the bar for five minutes while a table was cleaned. I was ignored at the bar by a bit more than what seemed like five minutes while the bartender, who I later was informed was the MOD, helped three men who were there before me, helped a customer who came to pick up a to go order after me,a nd disappeared into the kitchen for a bit until he finally took my order. They were out of the beer i ordered but did have something similar.

    Upon receipt of my beer, the host said my table was ready. Great! I saw down to await my girlfriend. About seven to eight minutes passed before I was even acknowleged by my waitress; good thing I had my beer from the bar. I told her I was waiting on my date, and she said she would come back when she saw her arrive. Less than 10 minutes later, my girlfriend arrived and sat down. It took the waitress another five minutes to “see” her after waiting on the table immediately beside us within two minutes of my girlfriend sitting down. We gave our drink order, and THAT took another 10 minutes to get to us. Fortunately, we were able to order our food when we ordered our drinks. When our drinks finally arrived, I asked to speak to the manager. I wanted to bring to his or her attention the delays I was experiencing. The waitress came back fairly quickly this time and explained that the manager was tending bar, that he didn’t have time to come talk to me, that I could go to the bar and talk to him. She then apologized for all the delays, explaining that they were experiencing a busier than normal evening and were short-handed. She then offered a couple of desserts on the house as atonement. We accepted on principle and had a couple of bites of each. The brownie was very dry, and no amount of chocolate syrup, cherries, and ice cream could’ve moistened it. The rest of the food was passable. This was the second time I ate there and the second time I had a less than average experience. I will not be returning for at least another year or two.

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