Feast is an homage to the art of barbecue, a cuisine traditionally all about devotion to a particular style: Texas, North Carolina, Kansas City, Memphis. Feastâ€™s approach is to take the best from all styles, and create simple, consistent, quality barbecue, something Louisville hasnâ€™t had much of until now.
Founded over two years ago by Ryan Rogers, with an initial location in New Albany, the newest iteration of Feast opened just a couple of weeks ago in the heart of NuLu.
Rogers, born in Louisiana, eventually found himself at the French Culinary Institute in New York. After gaining experience at some of the best known restaurants in New York and Louisville, Momofuku, Shake Shack, The Oak Room, and Mozz, Rogers opened Feast with the goal of serving simple, traditional barbecue in the best way possible. â€œAll weâ€™re trying to do is take something simple in barbecue, and apply the best techniques possible to make it the best bite of barbecue youâ€™ve ever had,â€ Rogers says. And theyâ€™re not far off.
Built in the 1920s for the Hausman Motor Company, the dÃ©cor is inviting and rustic, much like the ethos of the food. The first thing we dug into at Feast were pork cakes, created with crab cakes in mind.Â Smoked pulled pork is mixed with cream cheese, green onions, and cayenne, then floured and deep-fried. They came out a gorgeous dark caramel, sitting on a smear of barbecue sauce created with Indiana gnaw bone sorghum. They were delicious. In the mouth they are lightly creamy, but with a weight and texture that is satisfying to the palate. The phenomenal BBQ sauce is made in house, and then cooked, so the tomato in it becomes caramelized, giving it a mild fruit note. Topping the pork cakes is a coleslaw that is neat, crisp, fresh and slightly tangy. Nothing could better compliment the pork cakes
The pulled pork sandwich, which uses much-sought-after Martinâ€™s Potato Rolls, is very traditional, and brined in house in a Coca-Cola brine for 48 hours, as are all of Feastâ€™s meats. Then the pork is pulled out and rubbed with house rub, slowly hot- smoked over hickory initially, then they turn the tempÂ down low. The ribs are baby back, brined and rubbed, and while tender and â€œfall off the bone,â€ thereâ€™s nothing sloppy about them.
For vegetarians and omnivores, there is the crispy smoked tofu, which is smoked and sliced in house, floured and deep fried. The flavor is pleasing to the palate, to say the least, and youâ€™re not going to find a texture like it anywhere else in a barbecue joint, nor in most veggie restaurants.
As sides go, there are eight-hour-cooked baked beans made from scratch. Ours were slightly undercooked. But, come on, non-processed baked beans! If you prefer mac and cheese, Feastâ€™s is made with Mornay sauce, made in house from scratch; Parmesan; smoked gouda; cheddar; and extra melt cheese that provides the right amount of gooeyness.
And for dessert, you can go solid or liquid. The house made chocolate chess sâ€™more pie will send you to heaven, though perhaps through insulin shock as much as through sheer sensory pleasure. Itâ€™s got a slight shell too it and a soft, delectable middle. On the liquid side, you have ginger or eggnog bourbon slushies to choose from. The ginger offers the traditional icy slushy approach and is a palate cleanser and refreshing; the eggnog slushy is milkshake consistency and the pleasure of it knocked us on our butts.
When itâ€™s all said and done Feast is doing precisely what Rogers perceives Louisville to be in more need of. â€œLook at strong food towns like Charleston, Nashville, they have great chef owned, chef driven restaurants. Others who arenâ€™t the chefs donâ€™t dictate what is to be done in those restaurants. Chefs need to be given the means to put across what they can and want to, with restraint and maturity, and with what the Louisville scene wants and needs in mind,â€ Feast has certainly filled an important niche, and is filling it deliciously. VT
Feast BBQ is located at 909 E. Market Street. For more information visit www.feastbbq.com or call 502.749.9900.
Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS