I named Barrel and Ashes, Studio City, one of my favorite brunch spots after my first visit to the BBQ joint. The BBQ there is good, mind you, but not the best I’ve ever had and it’s really their brunch I prefer. And why not? Tim Hollingsworth, the chef there, brings the cred, having previously spent a dozen years working for Thomas Keller at the French Laundry and among many other credits, also has three Michelin stars to his name.
The space used to be a somewhat fancy restaurant (which I liked very much, for the record) with dim lighting and white linen tablecloths but now has been stripped down and redesigned to radiate Southern charm.
You can order their BBQ at brunch and there are a bevvy of hand crafted cocktails — they make a decent Bloody Mary — and you’ll even find traditional sweet tea there. But it’s really all about the unique food menu items.
Today someone said to me “Whatever, I can make Frito Pie at home.” And I replied “But you don’t and I certainly can’t.” It is delicious trailer-trash cuisine. Chili, cheddar cheese, sour cream, onions, peppers served in the finest of vessels….
There is also a list of biscuit sandwiches on the menu. The simplest with just jam or the more decadent with sausage and gravy. There is also a pork biscuit but my money’s on the fried chicken and honey butter.
I’m also a humongous fan of their pork benedict and smoked salmon benedict (IT’S SO GOOD). Their Huevos Rancheors ranks up there because I love anything with Cotija cheese on it.
I’ve saved the best for last, though. There are four kinds of HOE CAKES on their brunch menu. One with bananas and chocolate and caramel that is either meant for dessert or the indulgent (no judgement from me) and two that are breakfasty with eggs, bacon and the like involved. All good choices, I say, but you’ll be just fine with the basis hoe cake. Of course, there’s nothing basic about it and I recommend ordering one to share with the whole table. One would satisfy three to four people and you can always order another.
What is hoe cake? Imagine a cornbread patty in sizzling butter, topped with green onions, served bubbling in a hot, hot skillet. They’re not proprietary about it — the LA Times even has the recipe — but I don’t think anyone can touch it.
Aside from the setting and food, two more key elements about B&A I must mention. They are open for brunch at 9:30 on Saturdays and Sundays. This is smart in a town that loves brunch but where most places don’t open til 11:00. And they also take reservations. Which is great because I’m a snob and I hate going to restaurants that don’t take reservations. Yup, I said that out loud.
P.S. (Sit in Clay’s section!)