Pit BBQ’s Brunch Begins
By Marc Donadieu
Glacier City Gazette
Weekend brunch is being served at Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ’s (TAP) Indian location. The long-delayed debut was halted by a June 2016 fire that burned the restaurant down, leading to a redesign and rebuild.
For the past three weekends, brunch has been available in Indian from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. The menu features familiar favorites with TAP’s spin, usually putting on some form of wood smoke for flavor. There are traditional brunch items such as eggs benedict, ham and cheese or veggie omelets, classic breakfasts and a morning sandwich.
Then there are specials that owner Jack Goodsell is constantly fine-tuning to get just right. The preparation has to be practical for the kitchen and appealing to customers.
“With the brunch menu,” Goodsell said, “we’ve been adding things and subtracting things. This is our third week at brunch. We were going to do it last year, but we didn’t have a restaurant.”
When the Gazette entered to sample Saturday’s brunch, Goodsell was busy in the back prepping for what he hoped would be Sunday’s special.
“I was breaking down chickens,” Goodsell said. “We’ve played with it before, but I’m looking to do chicken and waffles, hopefully for the special tomorrow. It has to be just right.”
Goodsell is currently working on a TAP version of the Monte Cristo, the classic fried ham and cheese sandwich. Chicken confit, an item cooked in its own fat to yield tender, flavorful meat, is another avenue he’s exploring for a possible special. He wants to try different options to see what diners choose.
Preferring food with a bit of zip to zap the palate, the Gazette chose wisely with huevos rancheros. TAP’s lively version arrives direct from Mexico City through Back of the House Manager Hugo Avila.
Built on a base of a lightly crisped corn tortilla, chorizo and whole black beans, diners choose eggs made over easy or scrambled. There is also a side of breakfast potatoes. The dish is served with authentic ranchero sauce with smoky peppers, topped with sour cream sauce, churro cheese, mozzarella, green onions and cilantro. It’s a beautiful sight that is lovely on the plate and on the tastebuds.
TAP’s huevos rancheros is a delightful mix of flavors. The tortilla’s crispness combined with earthiness of chorizo and black beans complimented the tender over easy eggs. Cheeses and sour cream sauce temper the ranchero sauce that brings all of the flavors together.
TAP’s ranchero sauce is flavorful and smoky with a mix of notes not easily defined. Depending on your tolerance, the ranchero sauce is mildly to moderately spicy. The heat starts slowly and builds before leveling off. Sips of black coffee perk it up.
Avila explained the dish he learned from family in Mexico City.
“We grew up with it,” Avila said. “The other way you can serve it is with salsa verde or we can do it with the ranchero sauce. We call it divorced eggs because we can make one with red sauce and one with green sauce. That’s what huevos rancheros means.”
Avila is glad to be able to bring this recipe and its flavors to life in Alaska for others to taste. Avila grew up with these flavors and knows how to replicate them.
“It’s something new we’re introducing here. It’s exciting for me and for the BBQ because we want to bring authentic Mexican huevos rancheros. It was my grandma teaching me this because she was a chef. My mom, before she passed away, gave a lot of recipes. All of the things came from my family, my dad too. He makes a great salsa. We combine a little bit of everything to make this sauce.”
For those further interested in Avila’s culinary skill, Tuesdays are Mexican Street Food night at TAP’s Anchorage location. There are fresh tortillas, sauces and other surprises.
Since it was brunch, a Bloody Mary was a choice pairing for huevos rancheros. One could easily pair it with a Bloody Maria. TAP also offers a couple of mixed drinks and a selection of sparkling wines.
“It helps us a little bit that we have the liquor license to make the Bloody Marys, mimosas and the rest of that,” Goodsell said.
TAP makes its own Bloody Mary mix, which is balanced, slightly spiced with hints of smokiness and a black pepper bite. The interesting depth of flavor is enhanced with butt rub on the glass rim, a light touch that makes a difference. One can add locally made Anchorage Distillery Ghost Pepper Vodka to dial up the heat.
Even though the emphasis of a BBQ brunch is meat, Goodsell understands the need to appeal to a cross section of tastes. The veggie omelet is a mix of sautéed vegetables, roasted garlic, cheeses and balsamic reduction served with breakfast potatoes.
“There are so many people with so many dietary needs and dietary desires,” Goodsell said. “Some people don’t want to eat meat anymore. We have a lot of gluten-free products here.”
Though a big screen TV silently plays football games on the back wall, the large window views of Turnagain Arm and Kenai Peninsula will compete for attention. You never know what you’ll see with the unending shuffle of light, tide and weather on the Arm.
A luminescent blue hue of light lit the cloudy Arm at low tide. Sunlight emerged in the late morning as clouds slowly rose and dissipated. The constantly changing light was a fascinating distraction as the day brightened.
TAP has other events lined up as winter begins. When skiing opens, TAP will have its catering truck at Girdwood Brewing Company on weekends, and during the holiday week, will be there Fri., Sat. and Sun. Goodsell is still figuring out what the smaller menu will be.
In addition, for five years TAP has been selling smoked hams and turkeys for the holidays. The all-natural turkeys are 12-14 pounds. Pick up is available at Anchorage and Indian locations. Please contact TAP for more details.
MP 103, 27957 Seward Highway
Fri. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sat.-Sun. 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
3637 Old Seward Highway
Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sun. 12-7 p.m.