Coast Cuisine - January 2021
- story by Lisa Monti
photos by Ellis Anderson and Trent Tomasich
With little fanfare except for social media posts and some “Now Open” signs planted outside its Depot District storefront, BBQ Depot quietly opened in early January in a renovated spot that previously housed a bar. The new space has fresh paint throughout, with the bar on the left, booths on the right, a couple of window tables and a few more tables out front.
Large blackboards on both walls list menu items in artful lettering, but it’s really the subtle aroma of smoked meat that tells you what to expect.
On an early afternoon visit, sunshine poured into the casual restaurant, where a scattering of customers sat enjoying beer at the bar and barbecue in a booth.
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Brooke Loftin, one of the managers along with Bethany Ladner, waved to customers leaving their table after a late lunch. She’s already seeing repeat visitors to BBQ Depot, and the flow throughout the day has been steady since the restaurant opened, she said.
BBQ Depot is the newest entry in developer Jim MacPhaille’s growing BSL Restaurant Group, along with 200 North Beach, PJ’s Coffee and Creole Creamery. Brooke and Bethany navigate among them all throughout the day and night.
Chef Bernard Carmouche, a New Orleanian who’s cooked alongside Emeril Lagasse, heads the food operations aided by Darren Thompson. Carmouche created the menu for BBQ Depot, his first venture into the barbecue world.
“I never did barbecue before but thought about the good neighborhood places and what I wanted to eat there and what other customers wanted,” he said. It all starts with quality meat. “Good pork, brisket and chicken,” he said.
There’s been a boon recently in barbecue venues, but Carmouche says BBQ Depot has plenty to set it apart, starting with the meats cooked over pecan wood on a huge smoker out back. The sides and desserts are made from scratch, and there’s a nice selection of beer and liquor. “We serve quality meat, the place is kid friendly, it’s unique and inviting,” he said.
And there’s the location in Depot Row, which is undergoing a wave of restoration in some of the long-vacant units. There’s a boutique opening soon next door to BBQ Depot, and the restaurant group is planning a burger/wings/beer place on the other side. Carmouche is working on the menu for an Italian restaurant featuring coastal seafood opening later this year just down the row.
Carmouche describes the menu at BBQ Depot as broad, and that isn’t an exaggeration. There are half a dozen starters, including the stuffed baked potato topped with chicken or pulled pork that could easily be a meal.
The classic barbecue stars – brisket, pulled pork, a whole chicken and St. Louis ribs – are sold by the half pound or pound. Meat plates come with coleslaw, pinto beans and a roll.
The Piled High Sandwiches section is where I landed on my visit and, at Brooke’s suggestion, I picked the Brisket Reuben, though I’m not exactly a fan of the reuben. After eating just a quarter of the generously stacked brisket, sauerkraut, Provolone and Thousand Island dressing on marbled rye, I was now a fan, swayed by the juicy brisket pieces.
And the Tin Roof fries, which are wider than regular fries, have more surface to crisp up, and that’s a bonus. The kid’s menu items also come with Tin Roof fries.
A couple of other popular items elevated by Chef Carmouche are the mac & cheese, which are amped up with evaporated milk, and corn on the cob, dressed Mexican corn street-style with Chorizo butter, Cotiga cheese and cilantro.
The dessert menu is short – just three items – but it’s there if you want to put a sweet exclamation point on your meal. Choose from the mini sweet potato pies, pecan cobbler with vanilla ice cream, or banana pudding with vanilla waters.
BBQ Depot is open Wednesday-Thursday, 11 am to 8 pm; Friday-Saturday, 11 am to 9 pm; and Sunday, 11 am to 6 pm.
126 Blaize Ave., Bay St. Louis