It has been getting warmer in Seattle. Warm weather tends to stimulate my appetite for barbecue. Only a few blocks from my daughter’s condo, maybe The Boar’s Nest would fit the bill.
Opened in 2011, The Boar’s Nest specializes in pulled pork and ribs, though there are also chicken and links on the menu. Looking through the Yelp reviews, I gather that beef brisket used to be offered, but is no longer. The two guys who run it are from Tennessee, thereby laying claim to a pedigree of Southern cooks who churn out some of the nation’s best barbecue, the Midwest being the other region. So, what regional style does The Boar’s Nest adhere to? None, it seems, though a diner could reasonably expect Memphis. The pulled pork sandwich does come topped with cole slaw. Instead, the restaurant offers a choice of eight different barbecue sauces, running the gamut of the barbecue belt (Kansas City, Memphis, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, Alabama and Kentucky, with a house-made roasted habañero tossed in for good measure). The meats are slow-roasted only with a dry rub; the customer chooses the sauce. At each table, five of them are in squeeze bottles, a worn-out outline of the state identifying each (except the habañero); the other three (North Carolina, Alabama and Kentucky) are presumably available when ordering.
Sides include not only the standard slaw, fries (including sweet potato), baked beans and collard greens, but also a couple of unusual items: fried pickles and fried mac and cheese.
Several meats can be had as sandwiches—pulled pork, fried chicken, smoked sausage and links. I decided on the pulled pork plate, which includes cornbread, Texas toast and a choice of any two sides. I had to try the pickles and mac & cheese to satisfy my curiosity.
As I was waiting for my order to be served, I sampled each of the five sauces in the squeeze bottles. Overall, I preferred the KC.
South Carolina — mustardy and sweet with a bite
Texas — very sweet and tangy, tomatoey
Memphis — spicy, mildly sweet, tangy, a little heavy on dried thyme
Kansas City — sweet, vinegary
Habañero — spicy, fruity, balanced
Lunch arrived on a tray with generous portions of everything, clearly more than I’d be able to finish at one sitting.
Let’s start with the sides. Who ever thought of frying dill pickles? They were pleasant enough (☆☆½), crispy from cornmeal batter, tangy, boosted by dipping them in the remoulade, served in a little plastic tub. The fried mac and cheese was unremarkable (☆☆), big balls of fried cheesy pasta that are just crunchier versions of the popular combo. There was little cheese flavor. As many a Yelp reviewer opined, the cornbread was flavorless (☆½). The pulled pork was smoky and moist, oddly watery (☆☆½). It didn’t outdo Stan’s version closer to home on the Eastside.
The Boar’s Nest wants to appeal to a broad range of BBQ preferences. I’m not sure this is a good strategy because barbecuing in the States is so regionally specific, encompassing several kinds of meat and cooking styles. It’s easier to get away with it here in the Pacific Northwest far removed from the meccas.
The Boar’s Nest
2008 NW 56th St
Seattle, WA 98107