Image from: http://dailynexus.com/2013-02-06/kickin-it-with-the-kaptain/
Kickin’ it with the Kaptain
February 6, 2013 at 11:10 am by Hanna Mendoza
As Winter Quarter got underway, I found myself getting distracted on my daily bike ride down Pardall to class. Upon passing by the Study Hall, my mouth would spontaneously start to water, I’d get a strange craving for meat, and a woody, smoky aroma seemed to fill the morning air. This week, I found the culprit in the shape of Michael Gould, aka ‘Kaptain’: a thick set, grinning man grilling tri tip at 9 a.m. out the back of I.V.’s newest enterprise: Kaptain’s Firehouse BBQ.
Kaptain is the new kid on the block, and he’s arrived armed with a wicked attitude and a stellar menu, ready to take on Isla Vista.
Kaptain grew up working in his parent’s restaurant on the East Coast before hitting the Santa Barbara scene as a multitalented foodie maverick. He’s done it all: bar-tended frat parties, organized screening parties in Hollywood, held pole dancing competitions at Burning Man, BBQed during football season at O’Malleys, started a catering business and even put on a Bob Marley Day Festival in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park, complete with 45 kegs and 600 pounds of jerk chicken. This guy has some serious stories. I’m not going to ruin them for you (and they might push the boundaries of Nexus appropriate), but this place merits a visit if only to hear Kaptain’s tales, even if you don’t dig the food! (Spoiler alert: this is highly unlikely.)
Oh, the food. The menu features five takes on the classic BBQ tritip sandwich. The meat is marinated overnight in a blend of garlic, paprika and onion before being BBQ’d to medium-rare perfection. It’s served up on a hot roll from a local Goleta bakery, then topped with combos like pico de gallo and avocado or homemade chilli. It was the “The Anacapa” that won me over: horseradish mayo, pepper jack cheese and sweet caramelized onions that were a perfect compliment to the smokey char of the steak. This is comfort food at it’s best: Deep pans of chilli and pulled pork simmer away on the stovetop, and employees serve up homemade cornbread and golden fries with every entree. Believe it or not, vegetarians are also welcome, and can choose veggie burgers or a fat BBQ portabella mushroom sandwich.
There’s a hidden, high-class gem to be discovered at Kaptain’s: the Black Angus Beef Sliders. They pull out all the stops for this decadent combo; grass fed beef from a local cattle ranch is paired with farmer’s market arugula, blue cheese, caramelized onions, bacon and, as if it couldn’t get any better, black truffle aioli. “Truffle oil on an I.V. menu?!” I hear your cry! Yep, Kaptain has done it, and all for under $8. Perhaps Subway will soon follow suit; watch this space.
Kaptain’s is a venerable addition to the Pardall strip. Despite recent grumblings about the increasing number of chains in I.V., passionate, local-run places like Kaptain’s should make us proud of our little town’s eclectic food scene. And if we can support it by filling our bellies and wiping BBQ sauce from ’round our mouths, then that we should. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it, right?
A version of this article appeared on page 8 of the February 6th 2013’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Michael Gould admits to barbecuing everything he can. If it’s ever an option, he uses the barbecue. Gould, who has been in the restaurant business all his life, moved to Santa Barbara 32 years ago. After gaining a rapid interest in barbecuing because of the outdoor-oriented lifestyle of the Santa Barbara area, he’s opened up his first restaurant, Kaptain’s Firehouse BBQ in conjunction with Study Hall on Pardall Road.
With sauces and rubs that he makes himself, beef from the Santa Ynez valley, and rolls he picks up fresh every day from a local bakery, Gould is doing barbecue his way, not for money or fame, but to bring delicious barbecue to the people.
After two bites of The Anacapa sandwich, one of the restaurant’s more popular sandwiches, it’s clear that he has succeeded. Horseradish mayonnaise, pepper jack cheese, and caramelized onions aren’t initially something that attracts me to eating this barbecued bonanza of taste—I usually go for the tri tip or pulled pork sandwiches drenched in spicy and sweet sauce much like the BBQ Kansas City style pulled pork sandwich—but I wasn’t disappointed.
The tri tip, grilled to a warm medium-well done perfection on mesquite wood, was juicy and well-seasoned. The horseradish mayo added a sweet tang to each bite and honestly, who doesn’t enjoy the cheesy goodness of pepper jack cheese? Even when the meat ran out and all my sandwich was just bread, mayo, and cheese, it was still the most delicious bread, mayo, and cheese I’ve ever known.
There are nine sandwiches to choose from as well as Gould’s famous chili and classic baby back ribs, but don’t think that as a vegetarian you’re never destined to set foot in this establishment—grilled portabella mushroom sandwiches and grilled veggie burgers are also options. I didn’t try either of them but if they’re even half as good as that Anacapa I had, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
The whole delicious experience only cost a total of $8.70, a price that, as a broke college student, I first balked at, but after eating, I was content with. In fact, everything on the menu is under $10, a reasonable price considering that anything Gould can make from scratch, he does, and he strives to buy as many local or organic ingredients for his entreés as he can.
My only complaint, besides the décor (which I’ve been told is being remodeled in the coming months), was the low temperature of my fries when I got them. When I brought that up to Gould the next day though, he was apologetic and made a note to figure out how to amend that shortcoming.
I really enjoyed this restaurant and I’m excited to see what kind of things Kaptain’s Firehouse and Study Hall can bring to Isla Vista in the future. If anything, though, at least now I have somewhere to get a delicious barbecue sandwich that doesn’t break the bank.
Photo Courtesy of jeffreyw (Not a photo from establishment)