Bluff City Barbecue: From Memphis to Montclair
They say that if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s why Scott Hermo, owner of Bluff City Barbecue in Montclair, left his career as a bond trader on Wall Street to follow his true passion—Memphis-style ‘cue.
Hermo had been serving up barbecue in his free time for more than 20 years when he decided to enroll in a restaurant entrepreneurship class at the International Culinary Center in Manhattan, which he attended after work each week. He did seminars with well-known barbecue masters, got a part-time job at a restaurant to learn the business and opened Bluff City Barbecue last December.
Bluff City’s decor is full of Montclair charm—literally. The antique tin ceiling came from a defunct flower shop; the hostess stand is an oak table that was garbage-picked from outside a local church. But perhaps the most distinctive feature of Bluff City is its mismatched tables, made from recycled doors and table legs.
"I pulled out five doors from the dumpster when they were working on my house, and started making tables out of them,” Hermo says. In fact, he didn't pay for a single door; all were recycled locally.
Eclectic décor aside, Bluff City has a classic Memphis-style menu with a touch of soul. Menu items include ribs, pulled pork, shrimp and grits, and executive chef Patrick Pierre-Jerome’s homemade macaroni and cheese—a must-order side.
All the meat is smoked in-house. Traditionally, Memphis-style ribs are served dry, but Hermo does add some sauce to make his guests happy. “The ribs are cooked with my rub—it’s 12 different ingredients. But around here, people don’t do dry. So we brush it with a thin layer of sauce, then leave some extra on the table so people can add what they want,” Hermo says.
The desserts, also made in-house, are enough to make guests come back for seconds. Bluff City offers up tasty treats like bananas Foster made with brownies and ice cream, bread pudding with caramel sauce, and pecan cornmeal cookies topped with dulce de leche.
When the weather warms up, outdoor seating will be available, and Hermo still has plans to expand the menu. “I made 36 pounds of bacon this week! So, at some point, I definitely want to do brunch."
BLUFF CITY BBQ
21 Midland Avenue, Montclair