“I grew up doing a lot of country boy shit and I know how to do it well,” said Dan Lyle, chef and owner of The Shop Brooklyn, a barbecue joint that reopens in its new Bushwick location this weekend with a three-day blowout. Working summers at his aunt and uncle’s pig farm in Indiana and barbecuing throughout his childhood in St. Louis, Lyle knows “how to deal with fire” and brought in chefs to compliment his “Texas with a twist” barbecue.
The slow-cooked meat found in his pork spare ribs, smoky beef sliders and 327 sandwich (a beef and pork sausage sandwich named after a small Chevy motor Lyle used to build) won’t be the only offerings at the new 5,000 square foot space. Reminiscent of the original bar, which was housed in a Williamsburg motorcycle garage until it closed in 2012, Lyle’s 1971 Harley Sportster drag bike is on display. (It’s the same one that he’ll go drag racing with this summer.) A small store will sell vintage motorcycle paraphernalia, as well as barbecue sauces and seasonings. Just as important as the motorcycle vibe is the large stage for live performances – Brooklyn “astro soul” band King Holiday will perform on Friday with country-style bands to perform on Saturday.
“In a way, we are going back to the ’50s and ’60s and the real barbecue and juke joints in Texas and throughout the South and Midwest where you could walk into a place that feels uniquely American,” said Lyle. “These spots were community-oriented places where the music would be pumping in the back and smoke from the ribs permeated the air. A modern version of this nostalgic setting is what we’re bringing to life here in Bushwick.”
The menu was designed to fit this culture by offering tapas-sized selections so you can hold a slider in one hand while grasping a beer or shot of whiskey in the other. That’s not to say there aren’t bigger portions if you feel like you have a hole in your gullet. Said Lyle of his customers at the original The Shop, “They didn’t want to commit to a huge barbecue meal while they were partying and watching bands.”
Lyle has spent 10 years crafting the main menu, which will be supplemented by daily specials. At the bar he’ll offer up barbecue pistachios – an addictive snack he first created after riding with 15 other guys to his cabin upstate. “We were shooting whiskey and I made them on the skillet,” said Lyle. The pistachios were quickly devoured. “The property up in the Catskills, that’s where I test out all types of shit that I cook with fire. I have smokers and grills, everything I need to mess around with.”
Though Lyle uses the term “Texas-style” (as opposed to the North Carolina-style you’ll find over at Arrogant Swine”) to describe the flavor and technique of his barbecue, in actuality he draws from his lifetime of grilling experience and the unique seasonings/sauces he has developed – such as his mop sauces that “impart an extra touch of flare” to the meat.
To Lyle, barbecuing is as much an art form as writing a song or painting. “I loved Dolly Parton. She writes songs about what she knows,” he said, explaining it’s the same with barbecue. “You’ve got a better start if you go with what you know.” For him, that’s barbecue and motorcycles (cue The Shop’s slogan: “cook slow, ride fast”).
Lyle is very particular about the preparation of his meats – from how the animal is butchered to using his custom-made grill and smokers. This same conscientiousness is why all of his meats are bought from local farms. What’s in-season can direct the specials, such as Flintstone-sized whole turkey legs and heritage black hogs.
“I know more about farming than most of the humans in this city,” said Lyle with a laugh. For a tasting in April, Lyle went to a farm 55 miles outside of the city where he selected a 150-pound black hog, which he then shot, dressed and barbecued himself. If that doesn’t equate to legit barbecue, I don’t know what does.
The Shop Brooklyn, 234 Starr Street, nr. Wyckoff Ave.; open (starting this weekend) Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4pm to 2am, Fridays and Saturdays from 2pm to 4am, Sundays from 2pm to midnight.