Click image for slideshow.
The second floor of the Portland Public House nestled on Monument Square is such a haven for foodies that lesser epicureans might consider it merely a hangout for cheap eats..
This scene stealer is basically a mini food mall where four different vendors feed the lunch crowd en masse. The space is like a big barn--a communal happenstance dining room for the young and restless, old and otherwise, some with piercings and tats, others with bow ties and pin stripes or big coifs or rainbow colored hairdos.
Deux Cochon is barbecue. Or as its menu reads:” Barbecue & Southern Food Hooliganism.”
I guess “hooliganism” means fooling around with bbq ideas.
The buzz in all the food blogs and local newspapers is, however, seriously, authentic--, downright incredible-- barbecue has come to Maine and found a new home in Portland via Deux Cochon. This is meaningful news to bbq fans, of which I am one, a revelation as important as finding real Chinese food in the Forest City.
What confuses me about Deux Cochon’s operation is where’s all the cooking paraphernalia to create this marvel of barbecueism?
There’s no hulking grill or smoker in sight, no simmering sauce on a back burner filling the room with sweet aromas. Instead the meats for your pulled pork or smoked chicken sandwiches are taken out of a foil packet, pulled apart by hand, placed on a bun and then slathered in sauce. And you can’t order ribs or half a grilled chicken or even someone’s famous rendition of corn bread because there aren’t any.
I’m mildly happy to report that my experience so far at Deux Cochon (pulled pork and smoked chicken sandwiches) was not unpleasant, but it was hardly a moment of rapturously mind- boggling barbecue.
There are some nice touches like delicious pickles that chef and owner Adam Alfter makes in his home kitchen. And the sandwiches are stabbed with what looks like a flying
spear of pickled okra hanging on a skewer that’s implanted into the sandwich. In fact, those foil packets of meat are from his home kitchen too. Presumably he’s got a smoker somewhere and a big black steel barbecue too.
The sauces are sweet molasses-based brews that are nice but hardly so authentic it would make a Confederate soldier think of his Mammy’s smoked butt.
Perhaps this is all practice for Chef Adam’s aim to open up a real barbecue joint one day with all the proper accoutrements on site. Maybe then we can celebrate.
For now you can have a nice smoky tasting, saucy spiked sandwich, or a side of eggs pickled in beet juice or some hip-hugging rib-sticking biscuit and sausage gravy served in an accidental multi-purpose eatery not for the faint of heart.