Open since 2011 in a building that long ago was a meat processing plant and more recently an adult video store, House of Bones (previously named Smoke & Bones) is serious about barbecue. All kinds of barbecue: brisket and burnt ends, pulled pork (and even pulled chicken), St. Louis ribs and baby backs. There are sandwiches, sliders, and plates of everything, as well as such handsome side dishes as BBQ beans, collard greens, biscuits, and corn bread.
If barbecue is not your thing, how about fried chicken? Or wings? Maybe a catfish po boy or a plate of fried whole-belly clams or a burger or a breakfast sandwich? In other words, if you can’t find something you like to eat on this menu, you’re probably a vegetarian. Oh, wait. Vegetarians can have a trail mix salad and even a hot meal of mac & cheese.
I admit to being skeptical about a kitchen that tries to do so many different things; and while nothing I have eaten at House of Bones will displace the likes of Louie Mueller, the Skylight Inn, or Snead’s in my Pantheon of Smokehouse Greats, I definitely will be coming back for more of the menu. Maybe a fried shrimp po boy, BBQ nachos, or a BBQ breakfast burrito.
Barbecued meats here are the real thing — slow-cooked and tender; and yet despite the long smokehouse tenure, a lot of fat remains. (Ideally, you want it to melt into the fibers of the meat.) Fatty barbecue is not necessarily a bad thing, but the amount of glistening, meatless strips of blubber in a full order of brisket verges on obscenity. Pulled pork is as motley as it gets: long, tender strips and chewy ends and, here, too, a good measure of fat. I had the pork with “Kansas City Sweet” sauce which was too sweet for me. Next time, I am going with Memphis Vinegar. (Other sauce options include Louisiana Hot and Carolina Mustard.) Burnt ends are big and satisfying, full of flavor. Strangely enough, the meat I liked best so far is fried chicken; it is crisp-crusted and moist.
Beyond the food, eating at House of Bones is highly recommended for the good spirit of the staff and for the friendly service they provide. They’re happy to explain anything on the menu; we were offered tastes; and when they ask if everything is alright, it’s like they really mean it.