Barbecue shouldn't be elaborate. The most rustic of the culinary traditions isn't meant to be recreated inside or squeezed into the category of "gourmet." All its fire-soaked charm is tied to the great outdoors and the charms of carelessly licked fingers and one-plate meals loaded with an abundance of wild, smoky carne.
Tucked in the Eagle Vista RV Resort and Campground in Squamish, the Campfire Grill does the kind of barbecue you'd like to do at home, but don't. Realistically, they probably do it better. Way better. That's because proprietor and BBQ master chef Mike McCrea and his wife, Inger have the Midas touch when it comes to smoking the most perfect meat this side of the Rockies.
"We love camping and my husband has been a papered chef since '98, and often when camping we would cook our food literally on an open fire, in a campfire and so we had a bottle of wine one night and thought 'Hey, this is a fantastic idea if we could share this type of cooking style with Squamish residents,'" said Inger McCrea.
"So that's how the idea started and it flourished from there."
After establishing a cook shack, a fire pit, and a few comfortable, rustic eating zones in the campground last May, the McCreas decided that word of mouth would be the best and only way to promote their business. It worked. Though tucked off the main road behind Brennan Park, the grill has been doing steady business since opening day, and has established a dedicated fan base.
"It's been really wonderful, we've been really embraced by the locals," continued Inger. "Our local barbecue fans are very loyal and they've been spreading the word to all of their friends and family and now it's getting up to Whistler and Vancouver - it's amazing."
The popularity of their permanent location led them to invest in a portable operation, allowing them to expand into event service and catering this summer. On top of private parties, they've been serving up barbecue at prominent functions like SERF, Live at Squamish, local slo-pitch tournaments and the Squamish triathlon.
As they make everything on the barbecue - chef Mike doesn't have an oven - all parts of their meals are infused with the 'cue, even the pecan tarts. The sauces: chipotle BBQ, apricot BBQ, bourbon BBQ, and honey mustard - are made over the fire. The fixins' - slaw, salad, wheatberry salad, BBQ potato salad, baked beans, mac n' cheese, sweet mash and orzo pasta salad - are 'cue-charged. All the mains, which fall into the four categories of chicken, beef, pork and ribs - are given their full turn on the giant, custom made barbecue, ensuring the Campfire Grill's signature flavour is stamped firmly on each.
"It's all slow smoked meats, that's our number one so everything we make is made on our wood pellet barbecue outside and everything has to be touched by the barbecue in some way," said Inger. "I'd say the pulled pork is our signature dish, people tell us it's their favourite all the time and it's what we serve the most of at our events."
The daily specials at the Campfire Grill, which is only closed on Mondays, cycle through Rib-a-Rama Tuesdays (a half rack for $10.95 or a full rack for $15.95 with a choice of two side fixings); Hanker'n Wednesday (a plate of homemade comfort food starting at $7.95); Prime Time Thursdays (a smoked prime rib sandwich with a choice of side fixings for $9.95); Smoke out Friday (a smoked beef burger with toppings and a choice of sides for $8.95); Squealing' Saturday (pulled pork on a bun with - drumroll - a choice of side fixings); and on Super Sundays add a full rack of ribs for $2.99 with the purchase of any campfire feast value pack.
There are also jerk chicken wings, chili, chowder, taco salad and regular salads on the menu, as well as kiddie-sized meals for a reduced cost. And best of all, the Campfire Grill is open at their permanent location year round, though modified hours apply in the winter. That means never having to say goodbye to the best part of summer, and while the weather might not cooperate, you can always get your fix of 'cue (oh, and come Christmas, skip the fuss of the turkey and order a smoked bird from the McCreas instead so you can sip your 'nog in peace).
For more information, call 604-898-8388, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.thecampfiregrill.ca . To drop in, look for the sign on the corner of Centennial Way off Loggers Lane near Brennan Park in Squamish.