3/21/2013 05:44:00 PM

Erin O’Shea Breaks Out of the Texas Box at Percy Street Barbecue

When we wrote recently about the “hot eggs” at Percy Street Barbecue, we didn’t realize the new dish was part of an overhaul of the entire menu. After three years of successful smoked meat slinging, chef Erin O’Shea has rethought and expanded the food offerings at the South Street restaurant. Anyone who had a chance to taste her cooking at Marigold Kitchen, where she ran the line before coming aboard the ‘cue train, knows this opens up great possibilities.

O'Shea, Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook had launched the spot after a big research trip to Texas, where they purchased huge, authentic smokers and learned the best way to serve traditional Lone Star BBQ - sparse trays loaded with dry-rub meats, white bread and lots of sides. So why the change?

“Keeping things fresh is important, and we realized the parameters of strictly Texas BBQ might be holding us back,” she tells us. “We have awesome smokers, but what if we use them as a springboard and combine other techniques as well.”

What that means for you is more variety, and more choice. In addition to the cured egg with pork belly (O’Shea’s favorite new creation), there’s a beer-vinegar-poached shrimp with spicy pickled vegetables, of which the chef says, “I could eat that for days.”

New mains include a Cobb salad with brisket and a BBQ chicken salad with pears and pecans. The first meat with a glaze has popped up - spare ribs that are cured, smoked, braised and grilled before being covered in root-beer-chipotle sauce and served with pickled watermelon rind. Even the classics have gotten an upgrade: the meat for the smoked brisket and BBQ chicken now comes from Creekstone Farms, meaning it’s high quality and free range.

There was one other incentive to break outside the box. “When we opened [Percy Street] we were the only Texas gig in town. Now not so much,” she notes, ostensibly referring to Fette Sau and Bubba’s BBQ, as well as perhaps Blue Belly BBQ. “All of a sudden we have a lot of company.”

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