Peckinpah

Restaurant: Peckinpah
Cuisine: BBQ/Southern/Soul/American
Last visited: July 29, 2012
Location: Vancouver, BC (Gastown)
Address: 2 Water Street
Transit: Stadium-Chinatown Skytrain
Price Range: $10-20

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 4
Service: 4 (sit at the bar)
Ambiance: 3
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Carolina Style BBQ
  • Locally sourced meats
  • Sustainable meats
  • House smoked meats
  • Home made sauces
  • Affordable
  • Very casual
  • Family friendly
  • Bourbon list
  • Local craft beers
  • Patio seating
  • Open late
  • Sun – Thu: 11am – Midnight
  • Fri & Sat: 11am – 2am

**Recommendations: Pulled Pork, Mac ‘N Cheese, Hush Puppies, Pork Ribs, Brisket and I heard the sausage is good, but I didn’t get to try it. The service feels more attentive at the bar and you get random samples sometimes. Sit at the bar – they’re nice!

The more I read and study about the world of barbeque the less I think I know about it. I have a growing appreciation for this art and it is so much more than putting meat on a grill or throwing meat in a smoker. There is a great deal of attention and care that goes into preparing the meats and then there is a certain way they are meant to be eaten. Yes, there are “BBQ rituals” and it goes way beyond eating ribs with your hands.

Barbeque is regional and there are so many different styles for it. Barbeque isn’t really the lifestyle or choice of food on the West Coast, so I don’t think the majority really knows or is even exposed to all the styles out there. I for one am still learning, but each area is very distinct and unique with how they treat their barbeque.

In Vancouver it’s a type of cuisine that doesn’t get as much love or respect as I think it deserves. Let’s put it this way, we have a reputable amount of vegetarians and vegans. While I can appreciate that food, I am a carnivore at heart. There is the niche market that worships the technicalities of barbeque and then there are the others that see it as typical American Southern food that can be easily done at home. Yes it can be, but if this is the only way you see it, then you haven’t been introduced to the real world of barbeque. There is a serious side to it.

I’ve heard many mixed things about Peckinpah and they once tweeted “it’s a love it or hate it kind of place”, and that could be very true. I’m really glad they emphasize “CAROLINA STYLE BBQ”, but even so I don’t think most people know what that means. Fair enough that you don’t have to, and in the end it just matters whether or not it tasted good and that you liked it, but knowing about the history and style can teach you how to appreciate and understand their BBQ on another level. It’s the same thing with any cuisine and I’m still finding my way around barbeque and discovering what I prefer. I want to know how to distinguish the styles of barbeque.

Generally there are 4 distinct styles of BBQ (image from oysterfoodandculture.com)

Peckinpah is Carolina Style BBQ as opposed to Memphis style, Kansas City style, Texas style, St. Louis style, Kentucky style and Cajun style BBQ. That’s just naming the popular ones only in the States too. There are more BBQ styles than I know about and have yet to experience. I’ve done “Follow Me Foodie” trips to Texas and New Orleans, but that doesn’t mean I really know what it’s like and if anything it just gave me a better idea. I still haven’t been to Carolina and it’s probably the State that is most serious about barbeque, especially when it comes to pork.

Even in Carolina you’ll start a shouting match with the different styles of BBQ and which one is the best. There is North Carolina BBQ, South Carolina BBQ, Eastern North Carolina BBQ, Western North Carolina style BBQ and Lexington style BBQ. There may even be more, but anything past that is beyond me right now. Even locals have a hard time agreeing on what is and isn’t “authentic” of their area. Each area is specific with their BBQ and Peckinpah seems Eastern North Carolina BBQ to me. The chef (who I think is gone now) actually studied BBQ in Carolina and based on what I have learned this seemed legit to me. Many things aligned with the books and suggested “authentic”, but there were some West Coast aspects that I think they incorporated to satisfy the tastes of customers.

Peckinpah is not a style of BBQ that is for everybody and that’s why I stress that you have to understand the style to appreciate it. Personally I thought it was solid and I would go back. It’s also affordable for an area that seems to be going more non-affordable, and I liked the casual feel of it. The meats are well sourced and everything is house made, but the only thing I question is its consistency. Since I’ve only been once I can’t comment, but the mixed feedback makes me hesitate to recommend it, unless it’s just the uncommon style that’s causing the “love it”/”hate it” opinions. If it’s North Carolina BBQ you’re looking for though, I really don’t know if you can get more authentic than this in the context of Vancouver. Blue Smoke BBQ (food truck) specializes in the Western North Carolina BBQ, but even that will be different than this.

On the table:

**Lil’ bit of Pork and Beef4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • Beef brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, two sides, cornbread $17.50
  • It was excellent value and enough for 2 average appetites.
  • The meats are local and sustainable with much of it from Vancouver’s beloved Two Rivers Meats.
  • Even just looking at the picture you might think where is the sauce? It looks so bland and dry. But that’s the thing, Northern Carolina BBQ isn’t about the sauce.
  • The barbeque sauce is served on the side and barbeque experts know that the best way to judge the meats is by trying them naked first.

**Pulled Pork5/6 (Excellent)

  • Full $14.50 Half $11.50
  • Looking a little white is it? It’s supposed to be! Again, it’s North Carolina style BBQ. If you’re looking for tomato, you’re at the wrong place.
  • The best way to taste pulled pork is with nothing on it (naked). You don’t want to mask the pure natural flavour of the pork and how it was prepared.
  • Personally I love soppy saucy tomatoey pulled pork, but I actually really enjoyed this one.
  • It made me start to question if I really liked the saucy version more, or if I just had not tried a good vinegar based pulled pork until this day.
  • It smelled smoky with a hint of tang and upon serving it is lightly dressed with a simple peppery and chili vinegar sauce that was almost clear in colour.
  • This very basic chili vinegar sauce is the BBQ sauce of Eastern North Carolina style BBQ.
  • Alone the sauce was sharp with a white vinegar flavour and perhaps a bit of apple cider vinegar.
  • It was a sour sauce alone with a chili flake heat at the end.
  • Authentically in North Carolina the pork should be chopped instead of pulled.
  • This should have been chopped if it was true to North Carolina traditions, but it was pulled and I actually prefer it pulled.
  • It was well pulled and quite finely shredded so it allowed the vinegar sauce to penetrate deep into the pulled pork.
  • It was a moist and soppy pulled pork and the vinegar worked as an enhancer and moistening agent.
  • Typically Eastern North Carolina BBQ uses the whole hog (white and dark meat), but this one left out the white meat so it was quite rich.
  • The pulled pork had a good amount of fat and it used a combination of the shoulder, belly and jowl.
  • It was very moist and juicy pulled pork especially since it was all dark meat. 
  • The vinegar just cut the fat and enhanced the flavour of the pork.
  • It was slightly smoky, not spicy, but had some heat and it wasn’t very salty and not sweet.
  • It was very natural in flavour and it really showcased cooking technique and the use of a smoker.
  • Peckinpah sometimes uses only the shoulder (dark meat) which is more Western North Carolina; so the richness of the pulled pork might not always be consistent if they use random cuts for every batch.
  • Another pulled pork I like in the city is the one from Hubbub Sandwiches, but that’s not a barbeque house or specific to a style.

Barbeque (BBQ) Sauce

  • The BBQ sauce, or finishing sauce is served on the side and this sauce is not typically served with Eastern North Carolina BBQ.
  • I have a feeling the majority of people like BBQ sauce and request it as to why it’s available in a bottle at every table.
  • It was a very thick and rich tomatoey sauce and it was a bit Ketchupy which is not typical of North Carolina BBQ sauce.
  • It tasted like steak sauce meets Ketchup and it was tangy and smoky with a bit of heat at the end.
  • It was almost like roasted tomato paste with flavours of adobo sauce and it wasn’t a sweet sauce.
  • There may have been some Worcestershire sauce and it wasn’t a syrupy molasses sauce or mustard based sauce.
  • Personally I think this sauce was their own take and not specific to any region, but it wasn’t my favourite BBQ sauce and I prefer the one at Hog Shack Cookhouse (Kansas style).
  • Kansas style BBQ sauce is the most popular of modern day BBQ sauce and it is my favourite.
  • Peckinpah’s BBQ sauce had many elements of it, but a traditional Kansas BBQ sauce is as sweet as it is spicy and this wasn’t really sweet at all.

**Pork Ribs4/6 (Very good)

  • Full $27.50 Half $16.50
  • It was half a slab of ribs and they weren’t the sweet, sticky and saucy kind of ribs. Again, this drier style of ribs is typical of North Carolina BBQ.
  • I love sticky, sweet and saucy ribs, but these I enjoyed Memphis style… no sauce. The ribs had flavour on their own.
  • The ribs were very smoky with a woody and earthy flavour and it had the aroma of a cabin fire with the intensity of tobacco.
  • It was more smoky than salty and there was lots of bark, but it wasn’t chewy or hard.
  • The bark is my favourite part, but I like when it’s all caramelized.
  • This one didn’t have much sugar so there was not as much caramelization and it did lack a bit of sweetness, crispiness and chew.
  • I think they were smoked over hickory wood because the smoky flavour was strong and well infused into the meat.
  • Since the sauce was applied near the end (as it should be) it allowed for penetration of the smoke right to the very bone of the ribs.

  • The meat didn’t slip off the bone, but it came off with ease and the membrane was undetectable. Either it was that thin, tender and undetectable or they removed it.
  • There was a good amount of fat on them and it was moist and tender and well smoked. I highly doubt they were boiled or steamed.
  • The ribs were smoked perfectly to the point of staying attached to the meat, but still coming off the bone clean.
  • The meat had natural pork flavour, but it could have been a bit more juicy although it was moist.
  • The spice rub lacked a bit of salt for me, but it was smoky from perhaps cumin, smoky and sweet paprika, bit of chili powder, maybe cloves or cinnamon and then some dried herbs.
  • The dried herbs were either rosemary or oregano, and that’s what gave it that earthy flavour.
  • It wasn’t a spicy rub although there may have been the slightest amount of heat.

**Beef Brisket3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • Full $17.50 Half $14.50
  • It came with about 6 slices of brisket and 2 slices were medium-fatty cuts and 4 were leaner.
  • The fattier slices were amazing and you might be able to request more of those.
  • I’m a bit on the fence with their brisket.
  • When it comes to being tender they were incredibly tender, but when it comes to flavour they were quite bland.
  • There wasn’t much dry rub, salt or seasoning that I could taste and the natural flavour of the beef wasn’t really shining either. It needed salt to enhance the flavour of the beef.
  • Beef brisket is much more of a Texas thing than a Carolina speciality, but they did a good job with it here.
  • It beat some pastrami and Montreal smoked meats I’ve had. Different styles, but somewhat still comparable.
  • The lean brisket wasn’t even that lean which is a good thing or it would have been dry.
  • The lean brisket was moist and it had a thin layer of tender fat around the edge.
  • The fattier slices of brisket were just melt in my mouth tender and literally falling apart. When it gets to this point I call the meat bits “meat snowflakes” … here’s why.

See! Meat snowflakes! Come to Mama! And this is what I mean by incredibly tender.

One more close up! slkdnf;oihdfansdpof23r!!!!

  • I just picked this piece up with my fork and it was almost falling apart it was so tender. I could dangle it around and let it rain meat snowflakes. 
  • The fatty thin membranes were so tender and barely hanging on to the meat which were very loose and almost delicate. 
  • The fat was well marbelized too and it was well sourced.
  • I barely have to explain how tender it was and you can tell just by the photo, however the only disappointment was the lack of flavour it had. 
  • This was the only meat where I reached for the BBQ sauce. 
  • Just for reference sake here are some briskets I tried in Texas – see Salt Lick BBQ, Smokey Mo’s BBQ, and the most epic Smitty’s Market.

Baked Beans - 2.5/6 (Okay-Good)

  • With Buffalo Trace bourbon and yummy lil’ bits of pork (Included in combo or solo $3)
  • The beans were a bit softer than I prefer, creamy and rich, but on the bland side.
  • They were slightly sweet with maple and reduced bourbon which was cooked off.
  • There was some bits of shredded pulled pork, but it wasn’t a meaty baked beans.
  • It was a tomato based sauce and I just wanted more savouriness and maybe mixed beans or some bacon in it. It was okay, but not inspiring.
  • One of the best baked beans I’ve had was at Nordy’s BBQ in Colorado surprisingly, since then I’ve become super picky on baked beans.

**Hush Puppies - 4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • Deep fried cornbread fritters. Add bourbon honey mayo for fiddy cents! Side order – 3 pieces. (Full order – 6 pieces $6.50)
  • In North Carolina they believe you can judge a place just on its Hush Puppies if not the pulled pork.
  • This would be considered the must try side here. It’s the house favourite.
  • I thought the sauce was honey and I didn’t know it was a bourbon honey mustard mayo.
  • It tastes like a savoury buttery honey and I could taste the butter and bourbon, but it wasn’t boozy and the alcohol was cooked off.
  • It wasn’t too sweet and it was great with the corn bread muffin too.
  • I couldn’t taste any mayo in the sauce though and it didn’t look like there was any either.
  • The Hush Puppies were nice and crispy and perfect fried golden brown with a super soft and moist inside with whole corn kernels throughout.
  • I wasn’t keen on the brand of frozen corn kernels and they didn’t have flavour or crunch so I wished it was canned kernels if it wasn’t fresh ones.
  • For the price I didn’t expect fresh corn kernels, but even canned ones I find have more flavour than frozen ones.
  • They were buttery in flavour, but not as buttery as the corn bread muffin.
  • These could have used a touch more salt and I’ve always liked my Hush Puppies sweeter, but the sweet bourbon honey mustard mayo made up for it.

Cream Corn2/6 (Okay)

  • Whole corn kernels cooked in sweet corn purée (Included in combo or solo $3)
  • It was frozen corn kernels which is somewhat expected since corn is a seasonal ingredient, but it was July when I tried this so it was possible to get local corn.
  • I prefer canned cork to frozen corn because it has more of a crunch, and this one had more of a chew than sweet crunch.
  • It could have been the brand of frozen corn I wasn’t liking though.
  • It didn’t have much flavour and the butter and cream fats were separating a bit so it wasn’t very appetizing.
  • It wasn’t that creamy as much as it was oily and I could taste the oil.
  • I prefer mine with cream cheese and this might have some, but it wasn’t very cheesy in flavour.
  • I wouldn’t mind it a bit sweeter since the corn wasn’t naturally very sweet.
  • I think Rudy’s BBQ in Texas has one of my favourite cream corn and Hog Shack does a nice cheesy corn as well.

Southern Greens - 2.5/6 (Okay-Good)

  • Collard greens, kale, and swiss chard sauteed in garlic and butter (Included in combo or solo $3)
  • As collard greens they were not bad collard greens, but as a side overall I enjoyed the other sides more.
  • The collard greens weren’t overcooked and bitter or too wet, but they also lacked some flavour.
  • I like collard greens sauteed with bacon or ham hock, but this one had neither and it was just garlic, shallots and butter. (I re-visited August 22, and there was apparently some ham hock in it, so maybe it’s just inconsistent)
  • It wasn’t oily or greasy and I prefer a meaty flavour and a bit more tang to my collard greens. These ones had little or no vinegar.
Corn Bread3.5/6 (Good-Very good)
  • The corn bread wasn’t sweet, but it was more buttery in flavour than the Hush Puppies for some reason.
  • It was reheated in the oven upon order, but it wasn’t dry and was quite moist.
  • It wasn’t falling apart tender and it had a nice crispy top.
  • It was good corn bread, but just not one I would remember.

**Mac ‘N Cheese - 4/6 (Very good)

  • Top with pulled pork, beef brisket, or smoked chicken for three fiddy $11
  • This topped with pulled pork is an easy winner for me. It’s good comfort food that I could enjoy all year around.
  • The mac ‘n cheese was nothing fancy with no artisan cheeses, but it was good old mac ‘n cheese and I loved it!
  • It was super saucy and ultra rich and creamy with a heavy roux based sauce made with flour, butter, cream and lots of melted cheese.
  • I could taste lots of aged white cheddar and perhaps some mozzarella and sharp orange cheddar cheese and it was slightly stringy, but mostly just creamy.
  • It was almost like a cheesy Alfredo sauce and it very decadent.
  • The sauce stuck to the macaroni noodles, but the noodles were overcooked and much too soft. The sauce made it easy to overlook though.
  • Again it’s nothing gourmet and there was no sign of Gruyère, Emmental, Brie, Swiss or Gouda, but it was just plain good and worth the price.
  • Not the best mac and cheese, but one I would have no problem ordering again.

Deep Fried Dessert Specials - 2.5/6 (Okay-Good)

  • $5 +$4 with ice cream
  • This was an unexpected bonus.
  • I didn’t even know they served desserts! I know Chronic Tacos nearby is doing deep fried ice cream sandwiches as well.
  • Originally this “speciality” started as a deep fried Mars Bar in Scotland and then it slowly spread to other parts of the world.
  • It’s typical to see these deep fried chocolate bars, cookies and junk food at carnivals, so the concept is nothing new.
  • I’m a fan of hot and cold desserts and anything served with ice cream, but I’ve never been too keen on deep fried chocolate bars and cookies.
  • I just find the batter always too thick and soft and then I lose the texture of the chocolate bar.
  • I find chocolate bars and cookies good as is and would rather have a doughnut or deep fried ice cream if it’s going to be deep fried.
  • I’m also specific with my ice cream, and this was Island Farms Ice Cream which isn’t very high quality ice cream. It’s better than the no-name brand, but it’s nothing premium.
  • It’s really fluffy ice cream with a lot of air and it melts a bit fast and I’m not too keen on their ice cream.
  • In this context I don’t expect premium ice cream anyway, however for $4 I might.

Deep Fried Twix - 2.5/6 (Okay-Good)

  • $5 +$4 with ice cream
  • Twix is my favourite grocery store chocolate bar, but I did prefer it as is rather than deep fried.
  • The chocolate bars are frozen and then heavily coated in a thick floury batter before being deep fried.
  • The batter gets soft, chewy and bready, but it needs to be thick or the chocolate will just melt out of them.
  • The chocolate already melted so it was just the crunch of Twix cookie I got.
Deep Fried Fudgee-O - 2.5/6 (Okay-Good)
  • $5 +$4 with ice cream
  • The Fudgee-O was soft and cakey so it naturally loses its crunchy texture from being deep fried.
  • Again the batter was chewy and bready and I actually prefer half baked cookies with ice cream to this. It’s apples and oranges, but if I were to choose one over the other, that would be my choice.
  • Neither were oily or greasy and the oil didn’t taste contaminated with other flavours, or old, so they were what they were, but just not my favourite desserts.

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Peckinpah on Urbanspoon

10 Comments

  • Bow says:

    Perhaps the finest export of American cuisine is great BBQ !!! Not always crazy about the sides(being Chinese I like good plain white rice as a palate cleanser with rich fatty meat) that come with it but love beautifully slow cooked smoked meat…lately in Vancouver the bar has been raised(before our BBQ choices were quite limited, ie: Memphis BBQ,etc), there’s competition now. Lovely review, thanks.

  • mimihui says:

    **Lil’ bit of Pork and Beef – I like the pork…yes BBQ

  • KimHo says:

    Bow, fine export of American cuisine? I was under the impression that was big plates of food, Big Macs, French Fries and Lipitor! ;)

    When I visited Peckinpah long time ago, I didn’t “feel” the love the same way you describe it here. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t what I was expecting. Having visited Charlotte recently and had their iteration of local BBQ, makes me reconsider what I had back then and, actually, I might have made a bad judgement call. However, I am still a bit confused about the brisket recommendation that night. Regardless, one thing I did notice they “improved”: the BBQ sauce part. In my visit, some sauce was added: in your case, it was left out.

    Finally, a wacky note: after checking with others (including some who are more involved in the BBQ circuit), it seems Canadians don’t like “dry” BBQ; instead, they seem to prefer to have the meats smothered in sauce. This is a shame, as you mentioned, as sauces mask the potential of the meat and the long cooking process for pork shoulder/butt and brisket.

  • Andrew says:

    Nice review Mijune. I think its kind of corny… that they are using frozen corn.
    Might be worth trying out though, just for the meat.

    See you at BBQOTB?

  • Bow says:

    @Well. Kim, I don’t consider the other exports food ! The other American cuisine exports that I put in the food category is roast turkey, corn, and a good burger(no fast food please).

  • Sara says:

    I ”think” you are addicted to food Mijune. I think…

  • Mijune says:

    @Sara – LOL. I wish I could “LIKE” this comment.

  • Mijune says:

    @Bow – Thanks Bow!

    @Kim – Fair enough. I need to go to Carolina.

    @Andrew – I hope so! I’m out of town the next day, so I hope I can make BBQOTB!

  • Winnie says:

    I went there with my sister as an after beer meal and we both loved their pork rib. My sister loves dry food in general and that’s why I took her there to try it out. (Have to bring the right person to try out a certain kind of food)
    It’s good to know that you like their BBQ as well. I think it’s time to revisit since it’s been over a year now.

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