My beater Honda really should be adorned with a bumper sticker that reads: “I Brake For BBQ!”
After having lunch with a friend at Bastyr’s beautiful campus in Kenmore – a super yummy kale and fruit salad and some of the best tofu I’ve ever put in my mouth (thanks to chef Jim Watkins!) – I pulled out onto Juanita Drive and spied a contraption churning out smoke at the nearby Butcher Shop Café (Kenmore, 15022 Juanita Drive N.E., 425.485.1400; Facebook page).
I quickly turned into the parking and went inside after huffing a few sniffs of the magical smoke coming from that hot box.
What’s cooking? I asked the guy at the counter. Bacon?
Turns out owner Eric Conner was smoking pork belly. It wasn’t cured, so it technically wasn’t bacon, but he sold me a hunk of it and I took it home and fried it up in a pan and, hot dog! That was some good pig (pictured here, before putting the final sizzle on it).
Have high hopes for the housemade sausage I bought there, too.
This spot is a real hole-in-the-wall hybrid, with a nicely stocked case of some quality meat – yes, he stocks foie and duck confit and bulk Nueske’s bacon.
On the café side, there’s a lineup of burgers made with Oregon Country Beef ground daily, a steak sandwich, the daily dog special and pulled pork shoulder, served Carolina style. Not much in the way of seating, but they seem to do a bang-up to-go trade.
Conner also takes special requests for the smoker. “Give me a little notice and I can do anything,” he said. (Call him at 206.229.2090.)
Next time I’m up Kenmore way, I’m definitely going to do a progressive take-out feast, stopping first to load up on the awesome salad bar at Bastyr’s stellar cafeteria (open to the public!) and then something smoky over at The Butcher Shop Café.