What happens when you mix Texas-style barbecue with Louisiana seafood and fine-dining atmosphere? Visit BRQ, and you’ll know exactly what that’s like.
In the words of Larry David, BRQ is “pretty, pretty, pretty good." Logically, barbecue is the standout, but some other dishes are stars as well.
At first glance, the menu is encouraging. There’s more to the seafood and Louisiana side than something fried with brown sauce on top. There’s more to the barbecue dishes as well.
After being seated, you’re served complimentary bread-and-butter pickles, and housemade barbecue chips. These are addicting, delicious ways to start off brunch, lunch or dinner. Before you know it, you’ll go through a couple of bowlfuls.
During one lunch visit, we started with the brussels and kale salad ($10). The dish’s description is filled with buzzwords like tahini, smoked and maple, and it is magnificent. The plate is a mountain of greens topped with bacon and an earthy dressing, just enough of both to stand up to the intense veggies.
We also tried the shrimp and crab sensation salad ($14) — a combination I was surprised I hadn't tasted. A tangy, sharp Sensation dressing is complimented by creamy shrimp and crab salad. Again, the portion was enormous, but I’m not complaining.
So what about the barbecue? There are various platters you can order with different combinations of BRQ's "competition style" barbecue.
The pulled pork ($17 for a platter) is smoky, sweet and was immediately gone from my plate. The baby back ribs (half-rack $16, full $27) also were excellent. The meat fell off the bone, and the flavor was spot on with a nice, spice-rubbed crust. The smoked, sliced brisket ($19 for a platter) on its own was pretty good but fared better in a smoked brisket pastrami grilled cheese sandwich ($13) on rye with Swiss and Muenster cheeses and a smear of pickled peppers and sauce.
If you’re not in the mood for barbecue, there are other options that standout and make the trip worthwhile, such as the smoked rabbit pot pie ($18). Topped with goat cheese drop biscuits, the dish features veggies in a slightly sweet (and on point) gravy, and large chunks of smoky, tender rabbit. Those biscuits, with a slight tang from the goat cheese, are a wonderful topper.
The shrimp brochettes ($22) were another favorite. I was worried at first it would be too much all crammed onto a stick. I should have known the combination of shrimp, bacon, andouille, smoked poblanos and cheese couldn't miss.
If you have room for dessert (which will seem impossible, trust me), BRQ goes over the top and offers quarter-cake slices of carrot or chocolate cake. This isn’t an exaggeration. It’s delicious, but you’ll have leftovers for a week.
Sides such as asparagus, field peas, coleslaw and hand-cut fries are highlights, but the mac and cheese, sadly, wasn’t good. The combination of cheese made the dish taste soapy.
Another visit offered a few more misses. We tried appetizers such as duck spring rolls ($9) and blue crab deviled eggs ($10). Neither were anything to write home about, with the latter needing an extra bit of zest.
Outside this and the restaurant being out of a few dishes during a less-than-busy Sunday service, BRQ is a fun and flavorful experience. I'll definitely be back to try some old favorites and see what new twists the chefs create.
BRQ Seafood and Barbeque
10423 Jefferson Highway, Baton Rouge
HOURS: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
INFO: Call (225) 372-2674 or visit brqrestaurant.com.
PROS: Pulled pork; smoked rabbit pot pie; goat cheese drop biscuits; enormous portions.
CONS: Mac and cheese; service could use some tweaks; enormous portions.