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Bluegrass Bar and Grill (Closed)

Author: | posted 04/29/08 | Print This Post Print This Post |

Bluegrass BBQ in Glen Ellen

RESTAURANT CLOSED

Any worries I may have harbored for the future of Bluegrass Bar and Grill–tucked away in what was once the ghostly quiet Jack London Village–melted away the second we turned into the parking lot. Jammed.

Several months in, the Southern BBQ spot has already hit its
stride, with reservations on Friday and Saturday night booked solid. And BiteClub isn’t a bit surprised.

The restaurant has been transformed into a light, airy spot with to-die-for outdoor seating,
huge windows overlooking the creek for indoor diners and an almost hypnotic view of the spinning mill wheel from the bar. Not to mention the whisky flights (see below for details).

But ambiance is only a small part of the equation. If the food isn’t rocking, then
forget it. Fortunately, the menu has some very solid contenders for the
restaurant’s assertion of “Best BBQ in Sonoma”, namely the St. Louis Ribs ($16.99 half).
These are a smoked and rubbed version, so the gloopy, gloppy is at a
minimum, though sauce is served on the side. They’re tender,
fall-off-the-bone tasty with just enough spice to be noticed. Not
enough to be offensive.

A close second is the Texas style brisket (($16.99),
also smoked and dry rubbed. Sliced up, there’s enough fat to keep the
meat moist and tasty. Not enough to be stomach-turning. Again, served
with a side of sweet, smokey sauce that puts control firmly in your
fingers.

Tasting through a good part of the menu, there seems to be synchronicity in most of the dishes,
including the sides. Flavors mostly meld well, not leaning too heavily
on spices or heat for flavor. Instead letting the natural flavors shine
through with an assist from smoke, complimentary sweetness and
well-considered spices.

Don’t make choosing your sides an exercise in frugality. Order liberally, starting with the smoked baked beans, hand-cut fries first, moving next to the insanely spicy Adobo mashed taters and apple mint coleslaw.
If you’re going to skip anything, pass on the bacon and egg potato
salad (which couldn’t stand up to the intense flavors of the BBQ) and grilled corn.
All main courses come with two accompaniments, so if you’re eating with
a pal (or several), you’ll likely get a chance to taste through most of
them. Portions are generous, but entirely reasonable.

Rotisserie chicken (which
is often a weak concession to non-red-meat-eaters) gets serious respect
here, moist and juicy, brined with herbs and citrus. Kudos as well for
the cornbread with honey butter that comes to the
table as soon as you’re seated. Studded with jalepenos, its a great way
to start the meal.

We found the sliders ($11.99)–one of
the most popular dishes–to be the only slight misstep on the menu. The
pulled pork slider was dry and uninspiring, with a waxy coat of white
cheddar. Brisket was slightly better, but again, the waxy white cheddar
is a real off-putter. I’d suggest reconsidering. We were also of mixed
opinions about the smoked pork nachos ($12.99) Piled skyscraper
high with pulled pork, salsa, roasted corn, cheese, beans, avocado and
sour cream, it’s questionably appealing to look at. It’s also a bit
difficult to navigate. Frankly, I enjoyed it, though the rest of the
group was a bit dubious.

For dessert, the Georgia peach crisp
($6.99)has returned to the menu. It’s made to order, but the hard
peaches (fresh frozen?) killed the homespun vibe. Hot apple fritters
($6.99) are a better bet. But for the money, I’d spend the calories and
cash on a whisky cocktail like the Man ‘O War. Um, which as I recall was really good and really strong. Things get fuzzy after that.

Damn good drink. Damn good BBQ.

The restaurant is currently open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday.
Plans are in the works for lunch. Stay tuned. Bluegrass Bar and Grill,
14301 Arnold Dr, Glen Ellen 707-935-4488
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

(PREVIOUSLY)
Is there any decent BBQ in Sonoma County? BiteClub has asked that
question quite a few times now, and we never seem to come to consensus.
There are the occasional parking lot smokers, Red Rose Cafe
(which seems to cause a stink every time I bring it up) and the
occasional joint that ends up disappearing before we can get the sauce
off our faces.

Heck, even Napa’s got BarbersQ, Bounty Hunter and Busters, which kick our tri-tip to the curb. So what gives?

Chris and Jennifer Kennedy are fixing to fill the void with Bluegrass Bar and Grill which opened Tuesday night in Glen Ellen.

After a busy opening night, Chris confirmed that the preview menu
on their website is pretty accurate, with a mouth-watering lineup of
everything from hot links to St. Louis ribs, Texas brisket, rotisseried
chicken and pulled pork nachos. Sides keep the homestyle vibe alive:
Potato salad, beans, grilled corn, fries and cole slaw. Peach crisp got
a last minute boot (sadly, it was too much work for the kitchen), but
key lime pie and lemon bars are solid stand-ins.

And BiteClub
just got another reason to go: Whiskey tastings. Chris has about 20
Kentucky faves, from 23-year old Pappy Van Winkle to the always thrifty
Old Crow. Taste through several 1/2 shots (sorry, not the 23-year-old
stuff though) to get some serious perspective. Or a buzz. Your call.

The
spot’s always been a tough sell, with a number of restaurants
trying and failing at the somewhat remote Jack London Village. But hope
springs eternal for SoCo’s newest roadhouse BBQ spot. It’s yet to be
seen how the couple will pull of this ambitious undertaking, but
BiteClub’s got no doubt you’ll be out in force with bibs and forks in
hand.

(PS, Thanks garlicgrouton for the tip!)

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2 Responses

  1. snol April 30, 2009 at 11:01 pm #

    I have visited this place twice, once when it first opened and again in April. I am a local in Glen Ellen and I have to say they need to work on the quality of the food. Great building and the service improved from when they opened which was extremely poor.
    They DO NOT have the best ribs and brisket were very dry both visits. Ribs served were so bad they were like a brick. My friend had cold fries served and the burger was nothing special for the money. I have left emails to the owner with no response so I do not feel they care when they have poor service or the quality of the food was so bad during two visits.

  2. BiteClub October 27, 2008 at 11:08 am #

    mmmfood (12/05/2008 9:25:44 AM)
    Comment: My wife and i recently tried Bluegrass and found it very good. I had the ribs, she had the brisket and pork sliders. We both enjoyed the food and atmostphere. Service was a little goofy, but that’s ok. But i still think the BBQ at last years Wednesday Night Farmers Market in Petaluma is some of the best i’ve ever had. I highly recommend either BBQ!
    Posted By: Burgersnob (30/04/2008 1:48:34 PM)
    Comment: Just came back from a midweek lunch with a couple of coworkers. Ribs were tasty, but a bit dry. Beans were great, coleslaw needs a bit more tang for my taste. Waitress was great! Friendly and quick service. Sliders were enjoyed, nachos definately for the nacho-lover, but were enjoyed. Spicy BBQ sauce was great, and you are right, save room for the fire fries! And as for beer, if you can’t deal with drinking beer poured into a glass from a bottle, maybe you shouldn’t be eating BBQ. You need to stay home and drink your Bud fresh from the fridge. Prices reasonable for the area. Will be back, and soon!
    Posted By: Mark (29/04/2008 3:48:06 PM)
    Comment: Good Q, but the service was so astonishingly poor that I’d never go back nor recommend it to anyone. Included bringing all the food except for two orders (for the kids! serve the kids first! head of the whining!), no plates for the fabulous cornbread, and one drink in a lap.
    Posted By: Katherine Graham Cracker (29/04/2008 1:48:02 PM)
    Comment: There’s good bbq and then being able have an enjoyable dining out experience and eat bbq. So far in this area, not the same thing. I think Buster’s in Calistoga has the best bbq around but it’s not a place to go out to dinner. Now if Buster’s had a full bar and a nicer seating area it would all be good. This place sounds like fun though and offers other reasons to go.
    Posted By: Mark (29/04/2008 12:20:21 PM)
    Comment: I’m sorry but $16.99 for a plate of BBQ? $12.99 for nachos? Gotta love Sew Kew prices.
    Posted By: newlocals (29/04/2008 11:54:16 AM)
    Comment: We’re new to Sonoma, and we’ve been struggling with finding affordable, casual, fun places to eat. Our visit to Bluegrass last weekend helped us see that the Sonoma area does indeed have affordable delicius options. We couldn’t believe the amount of food we got for $16.99/meal. It was excellent. We also LOVED the outdoor seating. Perfect for a warm spring day. We’ll definitely be back.
    Posted By: Susan (29/04/2008 11:07:28 AM)
    Comment: Re: your comment – For dessert, the Georgia peach crisp ($6.99)has returned to the menu. It’s made to order, but the hard peaches (fresh frozen?) killed the homespun vibe….I defy you to find one “classic/authentic” barbecue joint that does NOT use either frozen or canned peaches. We have traveled extensively through Texas and the South and have yet to be served “fresh” peaches. FYI.
    Response: Hey Susan. I hear you, but do they have to be hard? I have no problem with frozen. I just don’t like them to be hard when i bite down.
    Posted By: PJ (16/04/2008 3:10:51 PM)
    Comment: Be forewarned. This BBQ establishment does not offer beer on tap. If you are someone that can’t fathom eating BBQ without tap beer (like us) , don’t go to Bluegrass.
    Posted By: mrmunch (30/03/2008 10:19:59 AM)
    Comment: I just came across this web site while looking up Bluegrass because I ate there last night. I read all the comments and think there is truth in them, although I am not impressed by the other food quality of the other barbecue restaurants that were mentioned. Over the years there has been a parade of barbecue places opening and closing around the county. The quality of them wasn’t very good so that was probably the main reason. I would say that most of them were serving dried out, lack-luster, underseasoned and undersmoked barbecue that was so bland as to not offend anyone, but in reality it was so unmemorable that not enough people patronized them. So eventually they folded. The above mentioned style of barbecue is presently being done at the 2 places I know of that are presently serving barbecue in my town,(Santa Rosa. And I am not talking about that trendy place on 4th street that brings bbq to a whole new low point for bad barbecue. The situation seemed desperate because it seemed the county would not support a decent barbecue place. Now we have one, although its a bit timid and doesn’t deliver in the flavor category, at least its not dried out because its sitting around waiting for someone to buy it. The place was packed when I went there. Bluegrass is very expensive and can’t compare to the barbecue I have eaten in places like Kansas City, North Carolina and anywhere in Texas, but its a good start and helps to move barbecue more into the main stream. Bluegrass is a pretty place and I wish them well, although I am still waiting for a place that serves more authentic tasting barbecue at a more reasonable price. If anyone ever hears of one let me know. I will be checking back because I am still hopefull!
    Posted By: garliccrouton (20/03/2008 9:42:08 PM)
    Comment: Delicious!!! Would go back!!! The only thing I would complain about is the waitress…veeeeeeeeeeeeeery nice, but slow – so we cut her some slack. We waited for 15 minutes for our drinks, and that was after waiting atleast 10 minutes to order the drinks. I highly recommend this place, great atmosphere, owner at the scene if needed, and great food. Would definitely go back. We’re going to try the lunch scene…
    Posted By: samarati (10/03/2008 10:42:38 AM)
    Comment: We enjoyed our dinner here. Big portions, good quality ingredients, cooked right! The dry rubbed BBQ pork ribs was a full rack with sides for $23. The 2 of us ate to Thanksgiving level stuffed, and we still took home the leftovers. Highly recommended. All Sonoma Valley locals know that this location has seen many good restaurants come & go in this spot. (It sort’a is off the beaten track). Please frequent this place so it can stay in business.
    Posted By: JavaWebServices (05/03/2008 2:34:34 PM)
    Comment: Porter Street in Cotati is very good. I live in San Francisco and, whenever I’m up in the “Fresno of the Bay Area” (Santa Rosa), I just have to get over to Porter Street.
    Posted By: forman (01/03/2008 8:09:21 PM)
    Comment: The wife & I went for dinner tonight. We get there about 5:15, they start seating at 5:30 so we had a little wait. First we got the corn muff’s. Not much of a fan but those were really good:-) I had the ribs, fries & beans. All were very good. I had the Hot BBQ sauce, not to hot tho. Wife had sliders, pork and brisket & potato salad. She loved it. We did not have room for dessert tho. Everyone there was very friendly. We will be back.
    Posted By: MIdnightJester (28/02/2008 9:41:10 PM)
    Comment: This place kicks a**. You should go there, bring all of your friends and hang out in the bar. They pour stiff and have lots of cool old fashioned drinks. I tip them well and they remember what I like, this place rocks!
    Posted By: blindgoldenretriever (25/02/2008 5:11:50 PM)
    Comment: We went Friday night. Fresh corn muffins with honey butter are brought to each table – Yum. However, save room for the fire fries as a shared appetizer! They are to die for – true pomme frite crispness delicately touched with a creamy blue cheese crumble-sauce. Also the apple mint cole slaw was perfect with the roasted chicken (which was tender juicy). The cole slaw was fresh, crunchy and slightly sweet with a hint of mint. Do request the bbq sauce-excellent addition, but mild had no heat. I would go a step up next time. Ribs and hanger steak got high marks too! Will certainly return.
    Posted By: garliccrouton (20/02/2008 8:05:49 AM)
    Comment: We’re going to give it a try. $16.99 for local organic free-range chicken and two sides, is not that over priced in my opinion. You would pay the same at whole foods and it would not even be cooked. Just a thought.
    Posted By: Elcee (19/02/2008 5:15:04 PM)
    Comment: Finding the key song from “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” on their website is cool! But $17 for 1/2 a chicken better be “finger lickin’ good,” dontcha think?
    Posted By: calast (19/02/2008 2:25:02 PM)
    Comment: I’m always interested in people who have the courage to open a new restaurant, and I certainly wish these guys luck in that location. Interesting menu, but – pulled pork nachos? Pulled pork sliders with white cheddar? Can’t anybody just do the basics, and do them well? I tend to be a creative cook myself, but sometimes you need to get down to roots. What I crave is your basic Memphis-style BBQ, and I’m not seeing it here or elsewhere in SoCo. There’s good BBQ in lots of other parts of the country, including Texas and Louisiana and the Carolinas. But it’s not fancy food. And all this talk about tri-tip? You know, if you asked for tri-tip in Memphis, they’d just look at you like you were crazy, or maybe toss you in the river. Texas style brisket could be OK, and is probably what I would try. But heck, you wouldn’t exactly think of Glen Ellen as a BBQ town anyway, so I guess this is what we should expect. This is the first BBQ restaurant with a mission statement that I’ve ever encountered.

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