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Restaurant Reviews --> North End Barbecue & Moonshine

North End Barbecue & Moonshine
Chef-made barbecue

Growing up, Linda's family always let the birthday girl select the meal of her choice. Since childhood, Linda had always chosen ribs, so we have had ribs every late August. This year we opted to try what is arguably (if you pay attention to the local media) one of the hottest new restaurants in town...The North End Barbecue and Moonshine. An unexpected departure for fine dining chef, Ryan Nelson, of Late Harvest Kitchen, it is an upscale take on the traditional smokehouse BBQ restaurant. Gone are the formica-topped tables, paper napkins, plastic glasses and waitresses who call you "honey" like we have experienced at the Rendezvous in Memphis or down the street at GT South's. In their place are paper-lined stainless steel trays, cloth napkins, first-rate wine glasses and a bar that stocks an incredible selection of artisanal craft beers, over 100 bourbons and enough fine wines to keep me happy. The wine list only includes only about 25 selections, but they are well-chosen and fairly priced. The Murphy Goode Liar's Dice Zin that we chose may have been a perfect accompaniment for BBQ.

Located in a free-standing space in the recently remodeled Nora Shopping Center, the restaurant has a good-sized dining room, a spacious bar and some very impressive private outdoor seating that we chose on a surprisingly cool August night. Smoked meat is the star here, and the menu is tight, offering six starters, plenty of BBQ, and five sandwiches and salads labeled "NOT BBQ." And the meats were great. Chef Ryan has truly perfected his technique in smoking and delivering tender, moist ribs, pork and brisket that surpassed anything we have tasted before. But getting BBQ right must have left him slightly unfulfilled, so he did plenty of chef-like things with the rest of the menu.

Two generous sides came with each entree, so we sampled four. The cole slaw was a clear favorite that arrived with the ingredients of the sauce artfully arranged on top and ready to mix with the cabbage...delicious. Linda really enjoyed the classic, southern dish, collard greens braised with with house bacon...I've never met a collard green that I liked, but everything really is better with bacon. Chef Ryan definitely put his touch on the mac & cheese that included a dollop of what he calls "rib jam"...a sweet mixture of rib shreds, spices and we think, molasses. It didn't satisfy Linda's mac & cheese fix that night (her opinion is that sweet and mac & cheese don't go together), but I found it interesting. The final side was hand-cut french fries scattered with jalapeno slices and drizzled with a smoked marrow butter that we would have preferred on the side, but then there is no such thing as a bad french fry.

All in all, a great birthday meal in a much nicer atmosphere than we've ever eaten BBQ in before. Chef Ryan's creativity still comes through and we are sure he will continue to refine the menu as time goes on. BBQ doesn't get much better than this.

The North End Barbecue & Moonshine

1250 East 86th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46240
(317) 614-RIBS (7427)