First Look: Barrel & Ashes, a New BBQ in the Valley
The Gist: Barrel & Ashes, a new Valley barbecue joint, has some serious star power behind it, including chefs Timothy Hollingsworth (former French Laundry chef de cuisine) and Rory Herrmann (Bouchon), barman Julian Cox and the ever-ubiquitous restaurateur Bill Chait, all of whom ran off to research barbecue across the country.
The Space: The former Spark Grill in Studio City is now a Southern-style spot with custom wood-topped communal tables, a small bar and chef’s counter, and a patio with picnic tables along busy Ventura Boulevard. The cool light fixtures — metal drums cut in half — are classic traits of a Chait restaurant. Chalkboards above the open kitchen announce specials, while menus and silverware sit in jars on the table. The only thing missing is the roll of paper towels. Take note: this isn't a large restaurant, and it fills fast. There are plans to eventually have a Texas-style food trailer and more outdoor dining in the parking lot outside.
The Food: This is how top chefs do barbecue. The meats are smoked to perfection; the sauces and rubs are well-balanced. It's high-low-end cuisine, if that's a thing. Almost everything is served in cast iron or a long board (the meats), and sides and salads (ambrosia!) are at once classic and elevated, some based on Hollingsworth's mom's recipes, others developed with the team. Chef de cuisine Michael Kahikina (also a Bouchon alum) is behind the line making sure it all comes together. Take a look at some of the highlights in the slide show below.
The Drink: Cox oversees all of the bar programs for Chait's restaurant group, and here he's concocted very barbecue-friendly highballs, shandies and sours, as well as curated a fine draft and bottled beer list. There are only two wines, both sold by the half carafe, but there is sweet tea for you true Southern/BBQ aficionados.
The Details: The restaurant opens at 5 PM nightly and closes at 11 PM on Sunday through Wednesday nights and 1 AM on Thursday through Saturday. Lunch launches on December 1. 11801 Ventura Blvd.; 818-623-8883.