Roadhouse at the Improv BBQ
Hold your horses, there’s a new ‘cue in town! Roadhouse at the Improv just opened taking over the food program at the comedy joint. Roadhouse isn’t exactly American BBQ but what is American BBQ? It can be astoundingly complicated because there are so many BBQ regions. Now take that concept and expand globally. Roadhouse is international BBQ featuring flavors found very much at home in the Middle East and Asia as well as our acknowledged American BBQ belt, from South. Chef Robbie Richter (Fatty Cue, Hill Country) created this BBQ mayhem and did a bang-up l job of balancing what we think of as BBQ and introducing possibly new flavors to our palates. Now Chef Kyle Schutte (Vu, Corner Door) takes over the helm.
The Phuket List gets its glowing chartreuse (the color, not the liqueur) hue from an infusion of tumeric. It’s a refreshing tequila and Batavia arrak drink that would be quite at home on a beach somewhere with its tropical flavors and orgeat.
The Phuket List – blanco tequila, Batavia arrak, falernum, pineapple, lime, orgeat, Thai chile, tumeric
I’m pretty happy eating deviled eggs anywhere, anytime. Roadhouse’s gets a Middle Eastern slant with tahini, harissa and za’atar spice. Could I have another?
A great dish to share as an appetizer would be the house-cured Hunan bacon. Served with Bibb lettuce, rice noodles and anchovies, you can make lettuce wraps that seems at once innovative and familiar. Considering I used to eat my pork chops wrapped in lettuce, I found this a wonderful idea.
For someone who tries to avoid skin of any sort, I do love chicken wings. Saturated fat be damned! These wings were so crispy!
Dave Fernie is also a DJ who spins a lot of cool “party rock” tunes. Boots with the Fur is the sort of drink that leans on fun but is still a well-made thoughtful drink.
Boots with the Fur – Aviation gin, white dog whiskey, Clear Creek pear eau de vie, spiced apple honey, lemon
The perfect fries are pretty hard to beat. I tend to eat my fries plain with a mere sprinkling of salt. But when I go all out, I will remember Roadhouse’s version of warm whipped butter with peaty Scotch. Yes, boozy fries!
My true BBQ love is for pork ribs. Roadhouse does a great version served with a watermelon salad cut into sticks. Or you can also order the watermelon salad which comes in little melon balls.
Think of the watermelon as a palate cleanser in between meaty, porky ribs.
Veering towards the Middle East again, the lamb ribs and meat are served with a sort of hybrid Middle Eastern arancini. The rice balls don’t have cheese or an Italian flavor but goes with that fried rice ball idea. I thought it was pretty ingenious. Like the pork ribs, the lamb ribs were very tender.
What I liked about all the drinks were they went very well with the food. The Naven Johnson is a long drink of tequila and Chareau, an aloe vera liqueur. There’s also a bit of cucumber which emphasizes some of the other flavors of Chareau. A touch of amaro Ramazzotti keeps things slightly bitter. You could have a couple of these throughout your meal and still want another.
Naven Johnson – reposado tequila, Chareau aloe liqueur, Ramazzotti, cucumber, salt, lime, ginger, soda
The crowd was quite delighted with the Brooklyn brisket which came with crushed Longhorn cheddar (I say cheetohs) spread. We made open-faced sandwiches with the Texas toast, brisket, a bit of the veggies all spread on top of that unabashedly bright orange cheese sauce. It was delicious.
Going in for the pun kill is A Little Dickle with Dew Ya. Made with George Dickle 12 Tennessee whiskey that’s combined with a Mountain Dew reduction, the now too serious “Old Fashioned” gets an update. My only quibble would be serving this with less ice in a smaller glass because the larger glass makes it look like a short pour.
A Little Dickle Will Dew Ya – George Dickle 12, Mountain Dew reduction, lime peel
Next to seafood, pork really is my favorite protein. The crispy pig showcases it in several ways; trotter chicharron, pig jam, papaya slaw. The trotter topped the green papaya salad and the pig jam is a rillette. You also got a goodly amount of pulled pork. I loved the trotter with the crunchy salad. I felt it balanced out the meat and did a similar job as the watermelon salad earlier. The juiciness of the salad cleansed the palate.
Roadhouse gets their desserts from Cake Monkey and ice cream from LA Creamery. This allows kitchen more time to BBQ. We tried all three pies; Banana Cream, S’mores and Chess. And also got salted caramel and honeycomb ice cream.
The honeycomb was amazing! I liked the salted caramel as well but it got a bit too sweet for me at the end.
My favorite of the pies was the S’mores pie. The fluffy s’mores was just like a sweet cloud.
Though I picked my favorites, it didn’t stop me from having more than a bite of everything. I just had to check on that salted caramel again. I hadn’t had chess pie in a while. It’s a Southern pie regarded as a custard-like pie. I liked this one since it wasn’t too sweet and reminded me of a soft lemon tart.
I’m looking forward to going back for those chicken wings again. I also am intrigued by the spam team sandwich, mac and cheese and trying the head of the day. When I went, they had the pig head on display. Roadhouse plans to rotate between pig, lamb and goat. Goat would be fabulous. I’m also looking forward to seeing what Chef Kyle brings to the menu. Perhaps a little molecular modernist BBQ?
Roadhouse at the Improv
8162 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90048 — (323) 651-2583
© The Minty 2014