BELLINGHAM - The new Jeckyl & Hyde BBQ and Deli is likely to become a popular spot for a quick and tasty lunch in a busy section of town.
This is the second Jeckyl & Hyde restaurant. The first one, at 709 W. Orchard St., has a more extensive menu, with pizza and burgers. The new place, off James Street across from Hardware Sales, is a smallish nook, with a counter, a few small tables, and walk-up ordering.
If you want to spend $12.99, you can get a combo plate with smoked brisket, chicken and pulled pork. We decided to make do with sandwiches. Pulled pork is $9.50, while the brisket goes for $9.99, with one side dish included.
That might seem a bit steep for a sandwich, but you won't feel cheated on portion size. Both sandwiches are liberally stuffed with smoked meat, on an artisan-bread roll that is robust enough to maintain structural integrity to the last smoky bite. (I hate a burger or other hot sandwich that comes with a flimsy, foamy factory-made bun that melts to mush before you get halfway through. This is far too commonplace, even at eateries that charge quite a bit for their burgers.)
Barbecue sauce is served on the side here, in squeeze bottles. There is a traditional sweet variety, and one enlivened with chipotle. I used a bit of both.
Whatcom County has never been blessed with an abundance of barbecue. Sometimes years pass between the closing of one barbecue place and the opening of the next one. It's been awhile since I've had the chance to sample the real deal in America's barbecue heartland.
That said, the smoked meat at J&H seems good enough to stand comparison with the good stuff I dimly remember from regions where barbecue is more of an institution. I know that barbecue fanatics are very fussy about these things, and I won't be surprised to get an email or a phone call from one of those fanatics, smoking me for daring to enjoy any barbecue that wasn't smoked in Kansas City or Memphis or Austin or some such place. But I never expected the restaurant critic's job to be all champagne and oysters.
Good as our sandwiches were, I don't want to overlook the side dishes.
Lots of informal eateries like this one offer predictable, generic side dishes that add little to the meal beyond calories. J&H puts some creativity into them. The chipotle-and-bacon baked beans were delightful. The cole slaw was also creative, with a dash of hot wasabi.
The service is fast too. The smoked meats are ready to serve, and you'll have your sandwich as soon as you settle into your seat.
JECKYL & HYDE BBQ AND DELI
Address: 794 Kentucky St., just off James Street
Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
Price range: $7-13