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BBQ in Dogpatch on the Horizon: Dennis Lee Dishes on the Magnolia Project

Chef Dennis Lee. Photo courtesy of Mohammad Gorjestani.

Dogpatch watchers with a bent for brews and BBQ are eagerly anticipating the opening for the new brewing facility for the Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery. The project is a huge growth for beer production for Brewmaster Dave McLean and his team. McLean’s brewery will include a restaurant and has an opening date that is still slated for “late 2013.” Also, the Dogpatch project's name is still a moving target at this point.

Since BBQ is perenially a popular topic, 7x7 decided to dig into details surrounding the Magnolia BBQ offerings, which will be from Dennis Lee from Namu and Namu Gaji. His involvement on the project grew out of mutual admiration from visiting McLean's Magnolia and The Alembic Bar for drinks. In similar fashion, McLean found himself further getting to know Lee while enjoying sake, beer and Korean-inspired eats at the two Namu restaurants. 7x7 caught up with Namu chef-owner Dennis Lee to find out his plans for the meaty side of the new Magnolia operation. 

You’ve been quoted as saying your BBQ will be "non-denominational." What type of BBQ is that and what does it mean?

It’s not going to be any particular style or tradition. There will be American and international influences and it will centered on the low and slow smoking tradition as well.

BBQ can be all about the set-up. Tell us about your plans for a beautiful wood fired grill and spit.

We have two J&R smokers that will be side by side. That’s just so that we have a little more versatility for temperature and time. Then we have an awesome brick hearth that has a two part grill about six feet in length. That will also have a spit integrated into it, so that we can do spit roasting of small lambs, pigs, ducks, and chicken. The menu will be small but will change regularly.

How will the menu change?

Chicken will be on the menu in some form. Different seafoods will rotate, as well as other poultry.

You’ve come up with a BBQ sauce that has a dashi and kimchee base. Can you tell us more?

We have served it at Namu with a version of our chicken wings. When you eat it, it tastes almost like a Korean stew. I developed the recipe at Namu, and we braise the kimchee in a very strong dashi broth. Then other ingredients are added to it, for building flavors. There’s a theme in the BBQ sauce of umami and building flavors through layering.

There are plans for in house dry aging and smoking. What do you envision there? Who are you getting your meat product from?

I’d like to experiment with aging for as long as possible, to get the most flavor out of it, or even the most unique flavor. We are really lucky we have relationships with Belcampo and Devil’s Gulch and possibly will use BN Ranch from Bill Niman for beef and turkey. The cool thing with Devil’s Gulch is, we plan to provide them with the grain from the beer making process. The animal feeding will really be full circle that way. 

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