Photo by Allyce Andrew
Bourbon & Bones chef/owner Michael Law preps food in his new restaurant Bourbon & Bones in Fre-lard during the first week of its soft opening last Friday, Jan. 17.

Ever try Lexington style BBQ Chicken? Bourbon and Bones opens in Fre-lard

Walking into Bourbon and Bones at Leary Way and Bright Street is like reemerging in a carnivore’s salivating dream scape. The space is bright, rustic and stinks of the sultry sins of smoked swine and a mad bovine brisket lust – all drenched in barrels of bourbon and tangy barbecue sauce. Good things happen here.

Michael Law is the chef and co-owner with Michael McConnell (Via Tribunali, Caffe Vita) of Bourbon and Bones. He has been cooking around the world for most of his life, but with this new roadhouse-feeling restaurant, Law is keeping to his roots.

Over a glass of Seapine Pale Ale, Law took an hour away from perfecting preparations and ordering rare bottles of bourbon to speak with the Ballard News Tribune about the opening.

“I noticed there is nothing here that stands up to barbecue in North Carolina or the south, and I’m hoping to bring that here and make it in a very rustic way,” said Law.

A native of North Carolina, Law has honed his craft of Lexington style barbecue and synthesized it with flavors and techniques he’s picked up along the way traveling throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s.

In his early 20’s Law moved to New Orleans learned butchery and worked as sous chef for John Besh. He later spent time traveling and cooking throughout Europe soaking up the terroi and mastering cooking techniques in northern Italy, France, and Spain.

He moved back to Louisiana and help a friend open a restaurant but after hurricane Katrina wipe out most of the city, Law reexamine his options.

Eventually he came out west and worked in a few places in San Francisco. In Seattle, Law has worked at Flying Fish, The Pampus Room at El Gaucho and Wandering Goose in Capital Hill. Law said that’s where he met McConnell.

The menu at Bourbon and Bones is organized into starters, order by weight, plates, sides, Carolina fried chicken, and Chicken in a bucket/barrel.

Law said some of the dishes he knew would be on the menu from the very beginning were the roasted pork shoulder, brisket, and duck Andouille gumbo – something he picked up from John Besh. The barbecue is Lexington style, which Law said is smoked barbecue served with a vinegar style barbecue sauce with a vinegar-based slaw.

Another one of Law’s specialty is something called ciccioli, which is a pâté like dish made from rendering the fatty parts of pork. Pair that with the house pickled beets, sun chokes, peppers, okra and pickles and diners are set.

Law stressed how all the meats and other ingredients are locally sourced.

He said that he wants to make sure people feel really good about what their eating, saying that some of the dishes are already guilty pleasures, but knowing the meat is free of hormones and raised humanely and locally is important.

“We want to show a sensibility in barbecue. A lot of the time when you go out you don’t know where the meats are from, so I hope that makes people feel really good about eating it.”

Law boasts that the smoker used for all the meat is custom built.

“Lots of places will get the institutional smoker but our's is a custom made deal. You could drive around Seattle all day and you wont see a smoker like ours.”

Bourbon and Bones
Photo by Allyce Andrew

Indeed, Law said that the custom smoker uses apple and cherry woods and that briskets alone smoke for 18 hours.

“We knew we were going to do the brisket. I did a similar thing at Wandering Goose. It’s smoked for 18 hours and when people taste it they say its amazing. It’s about the love you put into it and the lengths you’re willing to go to create a more artisanal product.”

Pairing that delicious barbecue with good bourbon is an art in itself, but Law has diners covered with a broad selection of bourbons from around the country like E.H. Taylor and Eagle Rare. Law also said he likes to keep a few bottles of Mescal around for its smokiness.

Law said the wine list I small but thoroughly thought through, matching the big reds with the brisket and pork, and sparkling rosé with the chicken .

Don’t forget the beer.

Law has over 10 handles and reaches across the states for old favorites like Shlitz and Shinerbock, but also takes pride featuring Seattle breweries like Seapine.

The space itself has a kind of deli feel, where patrons can see the entire action happening, with bartenders and cooks working in intimate proximately.

“The whole experience of eating and drinking aren’t separate and so the bar and kitchen are one … We want to be transparent here. We don’t have anything to hide. In Spain this is the way the bars are set up. Its really open and comfortable.”

With a record spinning old southern rock tunes diners might half expect Patrick Swayze to kick through a door and throw a belligerent drunk over the bar.

“A lot of people spend time on décor but have no substance, but we’d like to start with substance and go from there. People say it has a roadhouse feel it, but we just want to have a good time and make some really good food. “

Bourbon and Bones is set to Monday at 4p.m., Jan .20 at 4350 Leary Way NW.

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