Damian Brugger has been serving the distinctive flavors of Texas barbecue around New Orleans for years as a pop-up. With his own restaurant and bar poised to open, he plans to bring more elements of the Texas barbecue experience too.
Black Label Icehouse is set deep in Central City, but in form and function it’s modeled after a type of Texas barbecue joint Brugger knew from growing up near Houston and in central Texas.
“We’re doing a throwback to the day of beer bottles and ice tubs, just your typical neighborhood bar,” he said.
The low-slung corner building at the corner of Dryades and Seventh Street looks the part. Previously a watering hole and blues joint called Pop’s House of Blues, the walls are now trimmed with bare cedar, steel tubs line the bar for icy bottled beer and there’s a small stage where Black Label Icehouse will host musical acts from brass band to hard rock.
Black Label Icehouse will open this weekend for what Brugger describes as an open house preview, beginning Friday (Sept. 25), around 4 p.m., serving drinks but no food. Next weekend, starting Oct. 2, he plans to open fulltime, with music on stage and a menu anchored by brisket and beef ribs.
“Definitely what I’m bringing is that Texas style barbecue, simple salt and pepper and smoke,” Brugger said.
Beyond meats by the pound, the Black Label Icehouse menu has a few specialty sandwiches (built on Bunny Bread Texas toast), a barbecue burger, “crack poppers” (smoked candied bacon and cream cheese stuffed in jalapenos), fries tossed with smoked pork and duck fat, a beer-boiled mac and cheese and, as game day specials, smoked chicken wings and barbecue nachos.
Black Label Icehouse got its start as a pop-up, initially based from a trailer parked outside Ms. Mae’s, the Uptown bar where Brugger once worked, and later at the whiskey bar Barrel Proof. Brugger took on a few partners for his own restaurant, including Dave Catching, guitarist for Eagles of Death Metal and other bands.
The approach here will remain barroom casual. Service is from a tavern window, and seating is around a few long tables, a 30-foot bar and a drink rail. There will be a pool table in one back room, shuffle board and vintage arcade games in another, and TVs arrayed all around for sports. Besides the longnecks in the ice tubs, the full bar has Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi craft beers on draft.
Once Carnival gets rolling, Black Label Icehouse should have a side yard set up as a patio with its own outdoor bar.
Dates and Details
There will be no barbecue at this weekend’s preview. The menu and live music begin next weekend. Here’s the music line up:
Oct. 2, beginning at 8 p.m.
Oct. 3, beginning at 8 p.m.
Black Label Icehouse
3000 Dryades St.
Regular hours slated to begin Oct. 2, with dinner and late-night daily, lunch Sat. and Sun.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.