The owners of Senate and Abigail Street just opened up a new barbecue joint in OTR? One hundred percent.
Kenny and I, with some new friends (one of whom is actually family, both of whom are sadly moving) were looking to make some plans together and therefore used the date as an excuse to try Pontiac bourbon and bbq (on Vine Street, across from The Eagle).
We were familiar with its reputation – small space, long wait, good eats, fun drinks – so we met around happy hour and dug in for the night. But all the stars must have aligned because we got there in time to order one drink at the bar before being seated in a booth in the back. In fact, we were seated so promptly that we all made a deal to just take our time, ordering bite by bite, because none of us were quite ready to eat. And before I describe the eats, let me say, once we did order an item, it was on our table within moments. The turnaround was pretty remarkable.
Now like any good barbecue dive bar, the menu was tight. A few snacks, a few sandwiches, a few smokes, a few sides, and that was it. But I wouldn’t complain because when you go for barbecue, you know you are getting barbecue.
So while it was easy to decide on a main course, the starter snacks were more fun to mess around with. Even though we all claimed we weren’t hungry, we went ahead and ordered three. First up was the pulled pork, nacho cheese poutine.
It was pretty much as sinful as you can imagine. We dug in with forks and each bite was drizzled in something yummy – cheese, gravy, pulled pork – so it was hard to be disappointed with any bite.
We were then persuaded to try the smoked wing special. That night they were featuring an asian flair with hoisin sauce and green pepper flakes. They were…interesting. I personally wasn’t a fan, and that could be in part because they left my lips momentarily numb. I gripped Kenny’s hand underneath the table for fear of an onset stroke, but I wasn’t alone in the sensation, so I sipped my mocktail in relief.
Then after a few more minutes, I suggested the fried pickles. The response? A resounding yes. While they weren’t the first thing that jumped off the page, they were my favorite of the three. Fried pickles are just so so killer, with the crunch of the batter and the sweet crisp of the pickle, plus a dunk in ranch, it just can do no wrong.
Now, I eat meat, but I’m not a huge meat eater. When it comes down to it, I’m pretty much a pesca-pork-atarian. So it was a no brainer that I’d try the pulled pork. I was definitely into it, but of course the question is is it better than Eli’s? I’ll be honest and say I don’t know. Maybe? Probably not? Eli’s is obviously the gold standard for pork around these parts, especially after being named a top 100 restaurant in America, but I think it could be a close call between them and Pontiac. I’d love a blind taste test for myself because I was just as satisfied with Pontiac as I am with Eli’s. Both are pretty killer.
The rest of the party split a pound of the Texas style brisket. I didn’t try it, so I can’t speak to it. Served seemingly plain, with just slices of white bread, white onion, and pickles, the group did appear to dig it. The tray was cleared by the end of the night and compliments were paid to the slaw. I think at the end of the day, everyone was satisfied with their barbecue of choice.
So I think it is worth the trip. The eats were great, the vibe was cool, and it totally fits in with the whole OTR dining experience, which is why you go down there.