Brunswick barbecue isn't northside or southside, it's B-Side

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BRUNSWICK — The co-owners of a new barbecue restaurant at 107 Pleasant St. may hail from Aroostook County, but they say they’re serving “true, Southern, wood-smoked barbecue.”

Childhood friends Robbin Colandrea and Tim Kelly transformed what used to house a check-cashing business into B-Side Barbecue, a home for smoky, spicy, and decadent comfort food.

For now, the restaurant is serving lunch seven days a week from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Colandrea said they expect to add dinner hours and more staff in the coming weeks after she and Kelly work out the kinks. 

On the morning of Aug. 24, their third day of service, not every problem needed fixing.

“Oh shoot, it’s too tender,” Kelly said, attempting to shave a slab of beef brisket in an industrial slicer. “That’s a good problem to have.”

“I think we’re just kind of home cooking,” Colandrea said. She learned how to smoke meat at home on a charcoal grill, and scaling the process to a commercial size has been a rewarding process of trial and error.

“We had calamities at home,” Colandrea recalled, but didn’t elaborate – with an hour until lunch service started there was much still to be done.

A ringleader at the center of pre-service commotion, she held a long spoon like a baton and instructed a small crew of prep cooks to pre-package batches of homemade sauces.

As she spoke, her arm moved independently, almost automatically, stirring cabbage, carrots, garlic, celery seed, and what she called “magic stuff” together for coleslaw.

Short-staffed, Colandrea had called in for backup earlier that day: specifically, her husband, John, and their 11-year-old son, Stephen.

Colandrea asked Stephen to take out the trash and then assigned him to a batch of cornbread batter that needed mixing.

Meanwhile, John helped with the meat; foregoing the slicer, Kelly was hurrying to slice the brisket by hand.

It takes hours to turn the tough pectoral muscle of a cow into brisket, a tender, smoky delicacy, he explained. Though the clock was ticking – just 35 minutes to go until 11 a.m. – Kelly couldn’t help but dangle a flank of beef between two fingers, showing off its marbled fat.

He said the meat is good enough to eat without sauce, but that would be a missed opportunity: on the other side of the kitchen, prep cooks Molly Goforth and Sean Owen were preparing barbecue sauce made with Moxie, a white vinegar sauce (which pairs well with the pulled chicken, Owen said), and spicy “Nuker” hot sauce.

Meat – which in addition to beef brisket, includes pulled pork and chicken – is served on a tray or in a box with a side of mac-n-cheese, baked beans, coleslaw, and corn bread.

“If we were serving collards, then it’d be Southern cooking,” Colandrea said, with an emphasis on “then.”

“B-side,” Stephen offered.

“We’re B-side cooking,” Colandrea agreed.

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 100, or Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

Co-owner Robbin Colandrea mixes coleslaw in the kitchen of a new barbecue restaurant, B-Side Barbecue, at 107 Pleasant St. in Brunswick.

Co-owner Tim Kelly slices brisket in the kitchen of a new barbecue restaurant, B-Side Barbecue, at 107 Pleasant St. in Brunswick.

B-Side Barbeque in Brunswick opened Aug. 22 at 107 Pleasant St., the home of a former check-cashing business.

Reporting on municipal, school, and community news in Brunswick and Harpswell. Bowdoin graduate, Wild Oats sandwich-eater. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100, or