The BBQ craze has taken over San Francisco, and the latest Que joint, Hi-Lo BBQ, was opened earlier this month by Hogs and Rocks and Maverick’s owner Scott Youkilis along with partner Dave Esler. Chef Ryan Ostler (from Broken Record) is in charge of the menu, delivering Cali-style BBQ slowly cooked in their 3+ ton “precious” smoker. Located right across the street from Hogs and Rocks, it is a more casual eatery where orders are taken at the counter and items are delivered to the table.
With a full liquor license, Scott Beattie and Michael Lazar (Bar Manager of Hogs and Rocks) have created a few cocktails. We started with the beautifully garnished Fennel Old Fashioned (Eagle Rare 10 year Bourbon, fennel seed syrup, orange bitters and garnished with an orange rind and star anise) and a Hi Lo Manhattan (Rittenhouse Rye, Evan Williams Bourbon, two Vermouths and Meletti Amaro). Both the drinks were a bit on the sweeter side for our taste, but we can see how these are meant to pair with smokey Q:
Since it was our first time here, we thought we would get the BBQ Sampler for Two which allowed us to taste three of their BBQ protein choices, along with a couple of side dishes and dessert. They were out of chicken due to a large party that evening, so they substituted it with pork belly instead. The BBQ platter came with St. Louis Spareribs, Beef Brisket and Sake-Braised Pork Belly. House-made dill pickles, radish and cucumber tsunomono accompaniments were also provided. They only serve one type of sauce here, a mildly spiced Texas red which was really good on the ribs and brisket:
Not a typical BBQ item, the tender Pork Belly was rolled Porchetta style and arrived glazed with Tare, a sweet Teriyaki-style sauce:
They offer a couple of wines by the carafe; however, we feel that beer is the best drink to pair with BBQ, so we ordered a pitcher of Czechvar Pilsner:
The BBQ Sampler for Two comes with two side dishes selected from Baked Beans with Burnt Ends, Collard Greens, Cheezy Grits and Fried Brussels Sprouts. We were told that they were out of the grits (darn!); but, they had a special available for that evening, deliciously smoked artichokes drizzled with a spicy aioli:
We also selected the Fried Brussels Sprouts which were glazed with a sweet pineapple chili sauce and topped with crispy shallots. They also gave us a couple of potato pull-apart rolls that were decadently made with lots of butter and a spicy herb mix:
Dessert is also part of the Sampler, so they brought us a couple of very tasty Pear Pie Bars made with crème fraîche and orange zest which added a pleasant citrus flavor:
This isn’t a typical Southern style BBQ joint: Northern-Californian influences are present in the smoked items. Without a discernible bar, it was a little strange to walk up to a register to order cocktails along with the food. They do keep a tab open in case a second round of drinks or BBQ is warranted, and close it per request. All of the food ordered is delivered within 10 minutes of ordering, so if you do want to course out a meal, order accordingly.
They do have an ample service staff that circulates the room to bring water or take additional drink orders, so it seems that it’s a small step away from becoming a full service restaurant. The food and drinks are very good, living up to providing Hi-end fare with a Lo-end, casual laid back atmosphere (but in nicely decorated surroundings).
June 13, 2013 Update: We originally noted that Hi-Lo was a step away from becoming a full service restaurant, and InsideScoopSF reported today that it will turn into on on June 24. 2013. In addition, Chef Ostler is out (we do hope he lands somewhere making more great BBQ) and has been replaced by Hog and Rocks Rising-Star Chef Robin Song (click for full details).