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Friday, April 12, 2024

Feel the Fire

Three years ago, Larry “Bubbles” Pollock and some friends were “just having fun” in the kitchen when they created “some pretty good stuff” and he thought, “maybe we can sell it.”

The Pub owner calls it Carne Asada or “cooking with the flavor of fire.” And it is selling, despite the fact that the Lloyd Expressway cloverleaf project makes access difficult to the 37-year-old bar located at 1348 E. Division St.

Business is down by 70 percent since construction began, but The Pub remains open. The full Carne Asada experience is available only on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. but brisket and a few other items are available other days on the restaurant menu. Catering also is offered.

“You won’t find any brisket like ours,” says Pollock, who opened The Pub in 1978. He started cooking at 5 years old with his grandmother in Princeton, Indiana, and then at 17, he became a short order cook at the Palace Pool Hall in Princeton. Some years of education followed — at the University of Evansville and Indiana State University at Evansville (the University of Southern Indiana today) — and so did experience as he managed a band, and was involved in numerous other ventures.

What makes the brisket unmatched is its 24-hour preparation followed by 22 hours of slow cooking over indirect heat, smoking, seasoning, and basting. Unique menu items include other meats, burnt ends, beans, and house-made sauces.

Pollock uses a whole brisket cut into strips so all four edges are seasoned and the burnt ends have some charring called “bark.”

Chicken is brined, grilled on a beer can, and seasoned with lemon pepper. Beans are seasoned with bits of brisket. The barbecue sauce recipe, 100 years old, came from John Merta at the Rosedale Market (long ago giving way to the Lloyd).

Pollock makes several marinades and sauces using onions, jalapeños, other peppers, oranges, limes, cilantro, and other spices.

The major ingredient of Carne Asada, however, is friendship. These friends, particularly Otis Carter and David Yarborough, both of Evansville, each with day jobs in finance and technology, respectively, come for sampling, for dinner, or to arrange a large or small catering events. It’s no joke that one day a financial manager, an IT guy, and a “gambler” came up with this new idea.

Over time, Pollock and friends refined the process, using two enormous charcoal grills and a “Cuba China Box” or La Caja China — a big Cuban-style roasting box on wheels. The charcoal goes on top, and it looks like a smoking wheelbarrow. Pollock prefers fruitwood for charcoal, and he has his eye on some property where a great deal of applewood might be available.

Pollock also wants to add equipment for grilling baby back ribs. And if plans work out, the current banquet room, once a movie theater, will house a new Carne Asada restaurant with a glass wall so patrons can watch the food being prepared.

For more information about The Pub or Carne Asada, call 812-423-2121 or visit its Facebook page.

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