Not that kind of biker bar BONESHAKERS

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What: Boneshakers

Where: 544 E. Pershing St., Salem

When: Monday and Tuesday, 11am - 9pm; Wednesday and Thursday, 11am - 11pm; Friday and Saturday, 11am - 1am; Sunday 10am- 5pm

Info: timberlanescomplex.com/menu or call (234) 567-4671

What is with a name like Boneshakers? I thought this was going to be a biker bar. Well, it’s not that kind of biker bar.

Boneshakers, which opened in July 2016, is named after the old high-wheeler bikes (also known as a penny-farthing) from the mid-1800s.

Located in the famed Timberlanes Complex in Salem, Boneshakers is a restaurant, bar and banquet facility.

Eric Carcione, executive chef, provided an overview of the renovation that was done to the landmark after it was purchased by Brooke and Brandy Pidgeon. With banquet facilities to accommodate up to 500 people and plans to re-open 21 hotel rooms, Boneshakers is aiming to re-establish itself as a go-to place in Salem.

Carcione said that he has worked hard to use high-quality ingredients in his dishes without giving up reasonable prices.

“Sacrificing quality for price was never an option,” Carcione said. “Come summer, our patrons will be able to sample some of our own farm-raised Wagyu beef.”

For our sampling, we opted for the pub food route. Our meal began with three of their most popular appetizers: loaded tots, sweet potato fries, and mozzarella sticks.

First were the loaded tots, a generous pile of tots topped with cheese sauce, bacon, sliced green onions and sour cream. What’s not to like about this? These would please any palate.

Next was a mountain of sweet potato waffle fries, served with a marshmallow-fluff dipping sauce. The sauce is made by mixing mini-marshmallows with heavy cream and butter. The sweet sauce and the salty fries were addictive and delicious.

Lastly, we tried the mozzarella sticks. Boneshakers puts its own spin on this by wrapping the cheese in egg roll wrappers instead of breading them. These are then deep fried, topped with shavings of Parmesan cheese and served with a tangy house-made marinara sauce. This was a nice take on a classic appetizer.

Carcione explained that meats are smoked in-house using a blend of hardwoods, and he recommended that we try his signature pulled pork sandwich as well as the honey mustard ribs. Who are we to argue with an executive chef?

We tackled the sandwich first. For this, Carcione takes a bone-in pork shoulder and seasons it simply with salt and pepper. Then it’s smoked for 16 to 18 hours, low and slow ,with a mixture of cherry, hickory and oak hardwoods. He doesn’t mix the pork with barbecue sauce because he doesn’t want to take away from the smoky flavor.

The pork is piled onto a brioche bun, then topped with house-made barbecue sauce, a Monterey and cheddar cheese blend and a slice of hot banana pepper. This is a big sandwich with even bigger flavor. The smoky pork, sweet sauce and tangy pepper is a fantastic offering.

Next, the honey mustard ribs appeared on our table. At Boneshakers, a full rack is nearly two pounds.

To prepare this dish, Carcione puts baby back ribs in the smoker for four hours. When an order comes in, he layers the ribs with a honey mustard sauce, made with Dijon mustard, brown sugar and honey, then puts them on the grill to get a bit of a char. Because of the high sugar content, the ribs char very nicely.

The ribs are falling-off-the-bone tender, and you can sense the smoky flavor just from the smell. We were surprised by how subtle the sauce was, because we were expecting it to be very sweet. These were wonderful, and a nice twist on classic barbecue.

The last thing we sampled was the Pacific cod tacos. According to Carcione, the fish served at the restaurant is always fresh and never frozen.

For this dish, cod loins are blackened in a cast iron pan, placed in a flour tortilla, topped with a smoked corn and pepper salsa, then finished with a lime-sriracha crema. This dish had vibrant flavors from the salsa to cool down the blackened cod. The crema rounded out the dish nicely. Served with rice and asparagus topped with a balsamic glaze, this made for a satisfying entree.

Carcione is certainly a hard-working man. He is attentive to the community, aware of the historical importance of the restaurant’s location, and is looking to make Boneshakers a place for the whole family.