Typically, when something you try is underwhelming, chances are slim for trying it again. There are, however, those rare occasions when your gut says giving it another shot just might be worth it. That is exactly what happened with Blues & BBQ located at 801 N Congress Ave Suite 751, Boynton Beach, FL 33426 (Boynton Beach Mall)
On our first visit earlier this year, the food was bipolar. It literally could not determine whether it wanted to be too salty or bland. Even the temperatures were temperamental, no pun intended. The proteins were chewy and the sides tasted like the usher board wanted revenge by ruining the potato salad. Thankfully, as Shalamar sang in 1979, the second time around ooh, the second time is so much better, baby.
Blues & BBQ now has a vast, eclectic, and memorable menu. Add to that, its owner and philanthropist, Wayne Barton, is an impressive businessman and an outstanding human with a heart the size of Palm Beach County. Giving is a natural part of how he rolls. This brother embodies the ethos of why this platform does what it does. The love he has for his community is personified in his food!
The executive chef did a stint at Pat’s Restaurant in Lauderhill, another one of my favorite spots before joining the Blues & BBQ team, so I was even more excited to experience this redemptive meal. His culinary style is characterized by low country cooking, complimented by considerable knowledge of the grill as demonstrated by how he gracefully transitions his smoke ringed proteins to cooling pans for chopping and serving.
The FRIED RIBS ARE NOT PLAYING GAMES! My favorite fried ribs are Trick Daddy’s, the originator of South Florida’s fried rib plate and my reference point. Let’s just say, Trick Daddy would be proud of this brother! These ribs are actually more crunchy than fried, as the meat is initially kissed by the heat and smoke of the grill, battered in a seasoned flour, then fried to a crunchy (not crisp) golden brown yielding a powerful crunch. The homemade BBQ sauce came on the side. After dabbing a rib into it, I had to POUR IT ALL OVER, it was that delicious! Why in the world were these crunchy ribs so good? This was by far, my absolute favorite protein.
A close second would have been their southern fried catfish. All I could think of was an early 20th century fish fry on the banks of a country creek on a Friday evening as devout Catholics moseyed their way to purchase a fried fish dinner from Black caterers providing nourishment during the lent season. The seasoning had an ageless soulful flavor that embodied ancestral cooking at its finest. The sides were all delicious with the standout being – believe it or not – the coleslaw, which I usually hate. (I was 8 years-old the last time I enjoyed coleslaw when my grandmother would take me to Kentucky Fried Chicken!)
The acidity of the vinegar in this slaw was nearly unnoticeable until it revealed itself amongst the ocean of sweetness with a slight fermenting slap. It was even better than my childhood culinary nostalgia. The mac and cheese, collard greens, potato salad, and baked beans were acceptable. The other standout was the rice! I devoured the whole bowl of the peas and rice with the deliciously authentic Bahaman vibe.
We got a sneak peak of their brunch menu that includes fried chicken wings and waffles and shrimp and grits, which favored more of an okra soup/gumbo with a smoky profile that was more Carolina than New Orleans for me. I didn’t get a chance to enjoy their sticky chicken wings because my nephews pretty much abandoned their duties as cameramen and devoured all of them. From what I remember, they were meaty and tasty with a homemade sauce that was on the sweeter side.
The icing on the cake was their extensive bar! I was super impressed with their spirit selection and their POWERFUL drinks. It felt like I was in the country sipping on signature cocktails shaken by their very social and pleasant bartender. Smart, because her inviting personality lulls you into ordering more drinks just to keep the conversation going.
Blues & BBQ will one day become a staple in the Boynton Beach community if they keep this up. Give them a call for reservations at (561) 336-4500.