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Perdition Smokehouse, Brews and 'Cue in Berkeley

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[Photos: Patricia Chang]

Its name implies eternal damnation, but Berkeley's new Perdition Smokehouse, opening today, seems more like heaven for those who love beer and barbecue. Centered at Shattuck and University, a few blocks from both the Berkeley BART station and the Cal campus, the sizable, casual space is sure to become a favorite on sunny days with its large back patio, filled with picnic tables. And since it comes from Trappist and Mikkeller Bar mastermind Chuck Stilphen, you can definitely expect lots of good beer—43 taps' worth, to be exact.

Michael O'Brien, Stilphen's go-to chef who also runs food at Mikkeller Bar and The Trappist, is once again behind the menu, which shares the California-influenced, nondenominational vibe of recent SF 'cue debuts like 4505 Burgers & BBQ and Smokestack. Diners can expect Black Angus brisket, St. Louis-style pork ribs, Duroc pork shoulder, Diestel turkey breast, and O'Brien's housemade hot links, all of them dry-rubbed and smoked in the huge smoker at the center of the restaurant. Meats are available by the pound or as combo plates, with sides like mac and cheese, beans, potato salad, and cole slaw. There are pulled-pork and brisket sandwiches, hush puppies, and pie for dessert. (See the full menu, with prices, in the photos above.)

Travis Campbell (Mikkeller Bar, Monk's Kettle, D.C.'s Church Key), is directing the massive beer program here, with 43 drafts available by the half-pint, pint, or pitcher. Though he's worked with his share of esoteric barrel-aged and sour beers, his plan here is to keep things American and sessionable, with a general rule of nothing over $8 or 8% ABV. "If I were having a rack of ribs on a picnic table on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I wouldn't want a bourbon-barrel aged barleywine, even if it was crazy-rare and from a hotshot brewer," he says. "The focus is on approachability, even though the product will be excellent." Nonetheless, he's snagged some high-quality local and rare national brewers, Faction, Craftsman, Tahoe Mountain, North Peak, Clown Shoes, and Firestone Walker; there's even an exclusive Perdition small beer from Cerveceria de MateVeza. Here's the full beer menu. Non-beer geeks can choose from a Boylan soda fountain, a small wine selection, and Blue Bottle cold brew on draft.

Martin Heid Design/Build is behind the space, which is housed in a 1923 building with 16-foot ceilings and big skylights. Be sure to check out the cute meat-themed "periodic table" on the wall. Hours are daily, 5 pm-12 am; they'll add lunch service in a couple of months.

· Perdition Smokehouse En Route To Berkeley [~ ESF ~]
· SF's 12 Most Anticipated Spring/Early Summer Restaurants [~ ESF ~]