We went to Bludso’s BBQ on La Brea the other nite, but I wasn’t excited about it. There are a few aspects of the BBQ experience that turn me off: greasy, sticky hands (there’s wet-naps for that), potentially having to “share” your food with other people (I prefer to wholly possess my smoked meats), “family-style” service (just too intimate for me), and my own general insecurity about ordering what’s good (my knowledge of BBQ is pathetic: Thu is a veritable ‘cue sommelier compared to me). But, I grew a pair and went to work on some BBQ anyway.
I almost missed the restaurant at first – it seems so out of place and… modern. Granted, BBQ joints come in many varieties – ranging from vulgar to hyper-pretentious. Bludso’s on La Brea seemed to sit midway between Applebee’s and Wood Ranch on the BBQ joint scale. Bludso’s has nearly as many flat-screens as Slater’s 50-50, which is slightly more TVs than your local Best Buy. This place has more of a sports bar ambiance, to be honest. I kinda resent that restaurants add so many distractions nowadays. What if I really DID want to socialize with the other people at my table? I’ve suddenly forgotten the important details of their personal lives, and instead I’m intensely focused on Johnny Lineback’s torn ACL.
Our server was very helpful. We asked questions about everything: from the Bread-and-Butter pickles (get ’em) to the rib tips (not worth it). The server definitely made up for the smart-ass hostess, who was kinda short with me. She really put the “B” in BBQ: I asked her how long the wait would be for a party of 4, and her reply was basically, “As long as it takes, tubby”.
I was struck by how good-looking all of the customers were. I didn’t expect that. I expected more of a “Cheers” vibe, with 90% of the customers looking like “NORM!” and Cliff Claven. Instead, it was 80% Sam and Diane, 15% Frasier, and 5% that guy who was always in the back shooting pool (the one with the glasses). Rebecca was not there, duh.
Of all of the sides, the corn-bread was the most bomb-ass side! So soft and buttery… but, next in line is definitely the extremely cheesy mac-and-cheese. Noticeably absent are stewed tomatoes and fried okra! When am I ever going to eat okra if it wasn’t for my semi-annual excursion to a BBQ joint? There’s a time and a place for everything, and I could only enjoy okra within its appropriate context: BBQ place or “Southern Cooking” (Southern Hospitality being just as exotic as a restaurant where it is customary to sit on the floor. “Darlin'” has somehow become the American equivalent of gweilo for me).
I ordered the whole smoked chicken, and I’ve never really enjoyed smoked chicken before (it was quite an experience). Eating a whole chicken in one sitting is kinda crazy. Although I told my dinner posse that I intended to eat half now and take home the other half, I know that in my heart I was planning on eating the whole chicken in one go. I almost accomplished this, too! I felt a mixture of pride and disgust that just can’t be replicated, the telltale signs of an eating disorder. There was a definite 10-minute period where I was picking away at a drumstick and mindlessly watching SportsCenter (THANKS THU!!! for pointing out that pro ballers just can’t pull off double-breasted suits).
By the end of the nite, I felt like I was in a coma. It is acceptable to over-eat when it comes to BBQ. Who’s keeping track? The food is all over the place (everybody’s meat is served to the table on a cookie-sheet/roasting pan, for pete’s sake). I say, “Go for it”.