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Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Louisiana-Style Barbecue


Chef John Strand in his element, serving up the finest.

Chef John Strand has a hit with Magnolia Pit

William Shakespeare is famously attributed with having said there is no new thing under the sun. But the Bard of Stratford-on-Avon might be surprised to learn of The Magnolia Pit. It’s a new place that opened on March 1 in the old Mid-City Motor Hotel location at 729 Jordan St. in Shreveport.

John Strand owns The Magnolia Pit, and his fine-dining career spans more than 30 years. So, with all that experience with linen napkins, what turned him to the saucy side?

“There are four primary, recognized barbecue styles: Texas, Memphis, Kansas City and Carolina,” explained Strand. “I don’t understand how Louisiana, the only state that has a cuisine indigenous to itself, doesn’t have a barbecue style that those flavors of Louisiana transcend into. I said, ‘OK, time to change that.’”

So, he set out to send old-style barbecue up in smoke. He knew his new venture had to be unique and sustainable to capture the imagination of the fickle local dining public.

“It’s all of the things you’d expect to find at a barbecue place, but we also have quite a bit of Louisiana influence and flair. For example, we have dirty rice, but we don’t make ours like typical dirty rice. We use our burnt ends instead. We do some different things here. We do a banana pudding like many barbecue places you might find, but we do a Bananas Foster Bread Pudding. We do a white chocolate salted caramel bread pudding. Instead of peach cobbler, we have blackberry cobbler.”

Strand said they are doing everything in their power to create and actually recognized barbecue style like the Big Four, and they want to do it right here in Shreveport. Initial reviews have been good, he said. “We’ve had a lot of great reviews. 318 Restaurant Week almost killed me. I literally had people lined up out my door and down the side of the building.”

Cochon De Lait Sandwich Plate with Jordan Street Corn and Burnt Ends Dirty Rice.

The Magnolia Pit’s signature side dish is Pepperjack Fried Green Tomato Stack

While the entire menu has seemed to be a hit, Strand said it’s not much of a surprise that his brisket and his ribs are getting lots of attention. “Although I didn’t want to emulate Texas-style barbecue, I tried to apply my love of smoking meats and barbecue to local. Instead of just corn on the cob, we do what we call Jordan Street Corn. It’s a take-off on a Mexican-style street corn. Instead of mayo, we rub it in remoulade and then roll it in feta cheese.

“We make our own barbecue sauce,” Strand added, “and we actually use Trinity pureed down and folded down into (the) sauce. We do a lot of things that are a little bit different than the quintessential barbecue because we’re literally doing our own style.”

Their style is reflected in some of the sides.

There are two different bean dishes on the menu. Strand said one is pit-baked beans, which is their own recipe. He said it’s a little sweet but not as sweet as some, instead being a little more savory. He said it’s loaded with what he calls “goodie bits.” They also have pork belly pinto beans, which are filled with lots of smoky pork belly bits and slow-cooked for a long time.

“We have a potato salad that is off the chain,” Strand said. “It even has smoked ham throughout. We’re trying to do a whole lot of things that are not your cookie-cutter versions. They are the things that you might find at a barbecue restaurant, but they’re our version. Not just another mustard-based potato salad, or a mayo-based coleslaw.”

You can check out the full menu at facebook.com/TheMagnoliaPit/.


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