The Herald - Everett, Wash. - www.HeraldNet.com
Published: Friday, August 5, 2005
Smoking makes meals pleasing
The old Milwaukee Road depot in Everett turns into a charming barbecue joint with great food that won't break the bank.
By Anna Poole
Herald Restaurant Critic
EVERETT - Just like political news reporters who have to wade into partisan elections, restaurant critics must face the argument of barbecue sauce versus smoke.
3201 McDougall Ave., Everett; 425-257-3140 Specialty: barbecue Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, noon to 7 p.m. Saturday Price range: inexpensive : Beer and Wine. Non-smoking Vegetarian choices: side dishes only Reservations: recommended for parties of six or more and those with individual requests Disabled accessibility: easy access Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa
I'm a sauce aficionado, and I knew I was in trouble when I spotted the phrase "If it's not smoked, it's not barbecue" on the T-shirt of Gil Ruiz, pit master and owner at Depot Cafe and Smokehouse. Fortunately, Ruiz makes an in-house sauce, Red Wolf, which he sells at the take-out counter.
The Depot Cafe and Smokehouse opened in October in the former Milwaukee Railroad depot built in the early 1900s. The restaurant retains its old depot atmosphere with wood and brick walls and a railroad station-style clock. The take-out counter faces the stove where Ruiz warmed our smoked turkey leg and talked about his restaurant. This added to the feeling of a slower, friendlier place.
Ruiz has worked in the restaurant industry for 30 years and was the general manager for 3 years at Lomardi's before opening The Depot Cafe in October. The idea of serving barbecue was suggested by his wife, Sue, while the two were clearing brush at their rural Snohomish County home. He takes his grilling serious. He was a competitor in the Cruzin' to Colby Pacific Northwest Barbecue Association cook-off. He'll close the restaurant this weekend to compete in the Montana state championship barbecue cook-off.
At the Depot Cafe, Ruiz uses Pacific Northwest native woods to smoke the meats on the menu, and the aroma of wood smoke greets you in the parking lot.
The menu includes the expected sides of coleslaw, fries, potato salad, baked beans and cornbread ($1.95 each) plus sandwiches ($5.95) and plates ($7.95 to $13.95). On our Friday night visit, the specials were two burgers - $8.95 for the Western Angus and $9.95 for the Louisiana - plus a pork tostada for $8.95. The surprises on the menu include crab cakes ($8.95) and blackened salmon Caesar ($7.95).
For dinner, we ordered a pulled-pork sandwich ($5.95), which comes with one side dish, and a turkey leg ($7.95), which comes with two side dishes. To complete our meal, we added cornbread, potato salad and beans. The tender sliced pork was served on a roll instead of a standard bun and topped with a dollop of coleslaw. The turkey leg, which the menu promises to bring out your inner cave child, did just that.
The red-skin potato salad featured crunchy celery slices and chunks of red potato, which wasn't drowning in mayonnaise. The beans, seasoned with bits of meat, were darkened with molasses, but not too sweet. Melting butter did its magic on the warmed cornbread. Everything was delicious, hearty and inexpensive.
Herald restaurant reviewers accept no invitations to review, but readers' suggestions are always welcome. Reviewers arrive unannounced, and The Herald pays their tabs.
Contact Anna Poole at email@example.com.
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