Twinkling ceiling lights, an arrangement of red roses by the bar, and small candles beckon us inside the dimly lit yet invitingly cozy Great Northern BBQ Co. Once a food truck, Great Northern opened permanent digs on the West End pre-pandemic, and now warm weather brings outdoor dining options under string lights. Inside, a flatscreen displaying a crackling fire lends ski lodge vibes, and fans of the David Lynch cult classic will appreciate subtle details paying homage to Twin Peaks, like a framed photo of Laura Palmer and a patchwork quilt with squares that say things like “The owls are not what they seem.”
We opted for the comfy leather couch inside, and our server, Breanna, regaled us with a few crowd-pleasing dishes. Though the decor is an ode to the north, their menu specialty is pure summer – barbecue.
We started with drinks. More nods to Twin Peaks include a tequila cocktail called Audrey Horne, a refreshing choice mixed with pineapple-cucumber-jalapeño puree, lime, and zesty tajin seasoning. Equally delicious was The Return, with lemon, lavender syrup, creme de violet, and gin, which my friend described as being reminiscent of warm sunny days.
Before diving into the hearty meat entrees, a light Caesar salad hit the spot with a drizzle of dressing, served with more on the side. I soon learned this is a trademark of Great Northern to include extra sauce on the side, allowing guests to build their own adventure throughout the meal.
With platters designed to share, we had no problem agreeing on a Smoked Chicken Wings for the table, customized with our choice of flavor and sauce, pickles and slaw included. The smoky wings had that fresh-from-the-grill flavor and crispy skin. Though not traditionally a buffalo flavor fan, their Buff-Q offered the perfect amount of kick, but it was the Tangy BBQ sauce that blew me away. The tangy sweetness lingers, adding complexity to the heat.
We also tried the Brisket Plate, a pleasing smorgasbord of slaw and pickles, fresh soft buttery cornbread, barbecue sauce, and mac and cheese. The tender brisket with the sauce was a sweet and smokey delight. If you’re more into surf than turf, the Cedar Plank Salmon, with mac and cheese and sweet potato fries, is a great choice. This dish stole quickly become my favorite. I ordered my salmon well-done and was pleased to find some crispy burnt edges, and tender inside. It’s both smokey and juicy at once, and pairs wonderfully with the saucy macaroni and semi-soft sweet potato fries. I could’ve eaten that all evening.
But thankfully, it was suggested we try one more dish – the Homemade Banana pudding – and wow! After a hearty meal, this chilled pudding dessert is a must. Almost ice cream like, it comes topped with cold whipped cream and vanilla wafers. This treat did not disappoint.
For a smoked barbecue experience with mountain lodge vibes, Great Northern BBQ is Providence’s one and only – and don’t even think about skipping dessert.
9 Parade Street
421-1513 • GNBBQCo.com
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