Thursday, May 10, 2012

Family Dining in Ashtabula Ohio!

It was March and we were up in the Cleveland Ohio area visiting our grandsons…and their parents during the boy’s Spring Break.  Amy and David II had found a restaurant that they thought that we’d enjoy over in Ashtabula Ohio. 

It was a bit of a drive...but I love seaports...and Ashtabula is the 50th largest US port, shipping almost 11,000,000 tons of product, mostly coal, in recent years.

Here we are headed down the street toward the restaurant…with Emmett Lee mugging it up as usual.  David III is almost as tall as Laurie now, and he’s only 11! (This photo was taken by Amy)

That’s David III posing in front of Briquettes Smokehouse in Ashtabula Harbor. Briquettes bills itself as an authentic southern style BBQ Restaurant and Craft Beer Bar… (Make note of the front door)

This is Amy, our daughter-in-law and mother of our two wonderful grandsons, and her husband and my namesake, David II.  This month David will add a law degree from Case Western Reserve to his MBA from Michigan State University.

We started out with a bowl of corn chips accompanied by a bowl of "Mississippi Caviar"…black beans, black-eyed peas and corn salsa with onions, bell pepper, garlic, jalapenos, cilantro and Italian dressing. ($4.99) While the ‘Caviar’ wasn’t my kind of thing, everyone else seemed to really enjoy it…

Although this was Amy’s entrée, I’m showing it with the appetizers so I don’t repeat myself with an almost identical photo…

We ordered a “Rib Taster” appetizer…with 4 smoked and glazed St. Louis Ribs. ($8.99) We actually got 5 ribs instead of 4… This ½ rack entrée shown above, came with 6 ribs, chips and Mississippi Caviar plus jalapeno cheddar cornbread. ($14.99)
We tried them and the ribs were good, certainly a cut above average, lightly smoked and glazed with a sweet sauce.  Laurie and I rarely order ribs when we go out any longer… This fact is thanks to our blogger buddy and ‘smoke master’ Larry, aka “Big Dude” and his BBQ/Smoker.  To check out Big Dude’s blog site, go to 

We also tried 3 different iterations of Briquettes smoked chicken wings… This was a basket of the wings tossed in the Garlic Butter sauce.  This was easily our favorite of the 3 versions of sauces that we’d ordered.

These were the Maple Mustard Wings.  Each order consisted of 12 pieces. ($9.99) They were quite good…and they disappeared rather quickly.

Other available sauces that the wings can be tossed with include Sweet BBQ, Hot Sauce, Hot BBQ, R.I.P., Bleu Fire and Mild.  If someone wanted to order 6 pieces instead of 12, the price is $5.99…

These were the Cajun wings… They were our least favorite of the 3 choices we’d ordered.  There was just too much ‘stuff’ on them to really enjoy the smoked chicken flavor…

Other appetizers include: Buffalo Chicken Dip ($4.99); BBQ Nachos ($5.99) and; Super Nacho’s ($9.99).  The latter item sounds like a major indigestion challenge!  It includes smoked chicken and pork with chili and Mississippi Caviar on corn tortilla chips, smothered in cheddar cheese, nacho cheese sauce, onions, black olives, jalapenos and sour cream!

I decided to take a chance I ordered a Blueberry Milkshake…a flavor that I’d never had before. ($4.99 for this large shake) It was good but strawberry shakes have more overall flavor…

In addition to the 10 milkshake flavors offered, other available non-alcololic house-made beverages include Southern Sweet Tea or Unsweetened Tea, ($1.59), Smoked Sweet Tea, ($1.99) and Fresh Squeezed Lemonade. ($1.99 or, $2.99 if you want ‘bottomless’ Lemonade…

Another entrée delivered to our table was the Two Meat Combo, (beef brisket and pulled pork), that came with the Jalapeno Cheddar cornbread, mac ‘n cheese and baked beans. ($10.99) David II declared that this was a winner!

Laurie jumped out there.  She didn’t feel like anything heavy after that pile of appetizers, so she ordered the Brunswick Stew. ($5.99) It was described as a hearty blend of pork, chicken, and beef in a tomato broth with corn, carrots, onions, celery and special seasonings… She reported that it was very enjoyable and perfect given what we’d already eaten.

I love good chili…but I don’t like big chunks of onion that haven’t cooked down and I really don’t like bell peppers.  For these reasons, I rarely order chili when we go out. (Actually, Laurie makes my favorite chili)

In this case, I questioned the waiter and then I ordered the “7 Layer Chili”. ($9.99) This chili is billed as Briquettes “Award Wining Chili”…with elbow noodles, cheddar cheese, jalapeno’s, yellow onions (really cooked down), sour cream and beef brisket.  This is great chili!  All the flavor buds popped…very satisfying as well.

The only downside to our visit to Briquettes Smokehouse was their front door…the one in the second photo with David III standing in the doorway.  It’s an old-fashioned heavy wooden door with a automatic door closer that doesn’t, or at least didn’t, work.  The door slammed shut on Laurie’s fingers… I give her credit for not swearing a blue streak in front of our innocent grandchildren…and she was lucky that her fingers weren’t broken.  The photo shown above was taken 4 weeks after the accident!  (No apologies were offered…but they did bring a cup of ice…)
OK…In summary, Briquettes Smokehouse is a quirky local restaurant in a rustbelt small town.  It offers some interesting and well prepared food via a limited menu.  We liked the place and we would happily return should the opportunity arise.  This is the kind of place that we like to ‘discover’ and which we hope will prosper and survive for years to come…
Briquettes Smokehouse BBQ Restaurant and Craft Beer Bar is located at 1104 Bridge Street, (Ashtabula Harbor area), in Ashtabula Ohio.  Phone: 440-964-2273.  Website: 
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by and enjoying a family meal with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 


  1. The food looks and sounds great to me. Since I'm from Ohio and visited Ashtabula many years ago, I find it kind of funny to go there and have authentic Southern food. Nice pics of your family and congrats to your son. That's scary with Laurie's fingers---she sounds like quite a trooper! Nice post and I'll be sure to visit the restaurant if I'm ever in Ashtabula again!

  2. Dear Dave, This looks like good family time.
    I am sorry for Laurie's hand. It really must have hurt, especially that the picture was taken 4 weeks later! It must have hurt all through dinner.
    Looks like otherwise it was good family fun. Blessings, Catherine

  3. Thanks for the shout out - looks like a good time was had by all and "quirky local restaurant" is my kind of place.

  4. What a shame her hand was hurt that way. Otherwise, it sounds like a wonderful family get together. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  5. Big Daddy Dave, first of all thanks for the great review. My name is Nate I am the proprietor, and I remember meeting you when you visited. If I seemed unapologetic over the door closing on Laurie's hand it was not intentional. I had been struggling with problems with that door for close to a year at that point, and still am fighting with it on-and-off to this day. We had just repaired the door a couple of weeks previous and a big wind came through and tore the closer off the frame - the reinstall was a temp fix. I feel terrible that Laurie got her hand banged up so badly, and I am glad that no one else was hurt by it. Please accept my apology (albeit late).

    Best wishes for your future travels, and if you are in the neighborhood again, we would love to have you back!