New Petaluma BBQ joint gets saucy

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With the ambiance of a big ol’ southern roadhouse, lots of reclaimed barn wood and the smell of smoky barbecue, beer and whiskey, Sauced BBQ and Spirits is the perfect spot to quell that hankerin’ for southern food.

A new addition to Petaluma, Sauced has been open for a little less than two months. While they are still working out some kinks in their delivery, they have a good product that should hold up well.

Sauced got its start in Livermore when two cousins got together to market their barbecue and house-brewed beer. Their vision was to bring southern flavors to northern California, and to do that they offer lots of riffs on the BBQ theme, including smoked chicken, Carolina-style pulled pork with a vinegar based “mop,” St. Louis-style spareribs cooked in a thinner sweet tomato-based mustard and vinegar sauce and “burnt-end” brisket with their own Tin Roof sauce — the classic thick sweet Kansas City-style sauce.

They have an ample menu of burgers and “dawgs” as well as salads, soups and southern-inspired sandwiches. And if you are there to watch a game on one of the 28 big-screen TVs scattered around the restaurant, there is a large menu of southern-style starters to whet your appetite, or perhaps to take care of it altogether — think hushpuppies and fried pickles.

Petaluma locals may have noticed the many Sauced beer posters on the windows looking out onto D Street. That’s because Sauced brews its own beer out of Working Man Brewery in Livermore and pours them at the restaurant They have nine different styles of ale from a double hop IPA — Deuce Pigalow — to a summer raspberry cream ale — Pigberry Cream Dream. And if you don’t fancy one of those, there is a long craft beer tap list with something for everyone.

Sauced maintains a full bar with an extensive collection of brown whiskeys. They also pour their own special bourbon — Hawgwash — which is distilled in Charleston, SC, according to the Sauced recipe. And on every table is a collection of their own special sauces, which they market at the restaurant.

The restaurant is a large open space, which lends itself to family dining, big groups and game watching. A side room offers a quieter space, but this is not the kind of restaurant to go to for quiet conversation. Expect a hum of activity. There is also an open-air patio for dining on Theater Square, and while they plan to host live music on the patio, they are working with the city and their neighbors to find times that work for everyone.

I went to Sauced on a Tuesday night with my family, thinking it might be quiet and I could spend some time talking with the staff. I was so wrong — it was packed. And while our server and the hostess, Angie, were very accommodating, they never slowed down.

We each ordered a drink from the bar. My husband had a Ballast Point Longfin lager draft ($6.75), my oldest had the Porkchopper Porter ale draft ($6) and I had the Whiskey Smash ($12), a variation on a whiskey sour. Good, but not cheap.

For dinner, I had the Carolina pulled pork sandwich served on a soft roll ($12.99) with the optional apple slaw ($1). The pulled pork was excellent, moist and flavorful, and the slaw added enough sweet and crunch to satisfy. My husband, who wanted a lighter dinner, had the classic Brunswick Stew ($8.50). He reported that it was “tasty.” I sampled it to make sure and he was correct, and he was. It was a very hearty tomato-based stew with pulled pork, brisket, fresh corn, beans and potatoes, with a nice savory finish. My daughter had a burger — she opted for the Blue Grass burger, which is a half-pound Angus beef patty topped with blue cheese, mushrooms and onions ($13.99). She was happy with her choice and it was also pretty tasty.

Each entrée comes with something off the sides menu — burgers, dawgs and sandwiches come with one side dish, plates from the Pit come with two. We ordered sweet potato casserole, which was sort of a vegetable dessert consisting of pureed sweet potato cooked with butter and brown sugar, and a side salad, which was a basic green salad. The soup came with a piece of sweet corn bread made with cornmeal and whole kernels of corn, a personal favorite.

The portions were adequate — not overwhelming but certainly enough for a good full-caloric meal.

There is also a pretty good southern-style dessert menu; banana pudding, peach cobbler, fried Oreos, peanut butter pie, and a classic Sauced sundae. But, to be honest, I didn’t have any room at all for dessert by the time I finished dinner.

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