Neil McClure grew up in a family that went whole hog for barbecue. Outside his childhood home in Florida, the McClures rigged a barbecue spit using a washing machine motor and the rear axle from a 1973 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.
"For every family get-together we cooked a whole pig," McClure says. "My first job was watching the fire."
After a career in fine-dining restaurants, McClure is back to a grown-up version of that first job. His new Uptown restaurant McClure's Barbecue (4800 Magazine St., 504-301-2367; www.mccluresbarbecue.com) opened last week, and he can usually be found in back tending a smoker full of ribs, brisket, chicken, sausage and the makings for pulled pork.
McClure was a familiar face at Dante's Kitchen (736 Dante St., 504-861-3121; www.danteskitchen.com), the Riverbend restaurant where he was a manager for 10 years. That's also where he started McClure's Barbecue in late 2011 as a pop-up on days when the restaurant was closed. The response to his traditional "low and slow" approach to barbecue was swift and strong and soon he began planning a full-time restaurant.
McClure's Barbecue is a small, spare operation, with a handful of plank tables, counter service and a BYOB policy. Meats are served by weight or by the piece, as plates with sides and as sandwiches on Vietnamese-style pistolettes from Dong Phuong Bakery.
McClure has an array of six sauces, which represent different barbecue regions around the South and one hybrid Asian version he describes as a "Kansas City sauce with hoisin, soy, some Sambal Oelek and other seasonings."
During its pop-up run, McClure's served barbecue and side dishes family-style in more-or-less unlimited portions. The restaurant will offer that service style on Tuesday nights, with a pay-one-price deal (the amount still to be determined).
"We'll push all the tables together and throw food at people until they cry mercy," McClure says.
McClure's Barbecue serves lunch Wed- nesday through Sunday, and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.