Chef Interview

Hank's Down South Does BBQ Right

"Opening a barbecue joint in a seafood town was not a strategic move, but when I saw the spectacular waterfront view it was obvious that I found my spot."


Amy Mason is the chef/owner at Hank’s Down South, which opened about a year-and-a-half ago in Narragansett. 

What is Hank’s all about? 
Hank’s Down South is a quirky, laid back spot on the water in Narragansett. We are always working towards the goal – and our goal is to serve you the best cocktails, brews and authentic barbecue. What could be better than that? 

I’ve been told that the vibe at Hank’s is very welcoming, inviting and relaxed. At any one time you will find all age groups sharing the dance floor. We have live music performed by our local favorites every weekend. Our staff are friendly, our cocktails are signature as well as traditional, our beers on tap will always rotate accordingly and our barbecue is pure, simple and sticky delicious. 

Who is Hank? 
Hank is my yellow lab, who you will usually find there on weekends. Our deck is “dog friendly.” Leashes, water bowls and a jar of biscuits are always on hand. 

What inspired you to open a barbecue place in a seafood town?
I chose barbecue because that is what I know. My mother taught me to cook. Opening a barbecue joint in a seafood town was not a strategic move, but when I saw the spectacular waterfront view Hank’s provides both inside and on my deck it was obvious that I found my spot. 

Barbecue fundamentals differ greatly, but what are the essential elements of it for you?
My barbecue has an emphasis on homemade. What I am able to prepare in my kitchen from scratch, I will. My barbecue 
has a smoky, molasses-based sauce. My rub is simple, with fewer than ten ingredients (and one secret ingredient). My wood of choice is maple. All of my meats are rubbed, left to sit in the refrigerator for 48 hours, and then they go to the smoker. Times there are varied depending on the size of meat. My brisket spends on average 13-14 hours on the smoke. My pulled pork is a bit less, but never less than 10 hours. 

As a chef, what do you wish people understood about barbecue or knew more about?
The one thing that is often misunderstood about barbecue is what it really is: when, for example, you say you are going to a barbecue, you usually mean an outdoor party where your meal is cooked over charcoal on a grill. The “barbecue” you’re referring to is the sauce, not specifically the style of cooking. Here, barbecue sauce is used as a finish to my meat, which has been smoked at 200-275 degrees for many hours. 

Are you able to use local ingredients cooking Southern food?
Using local ingredients has not been any sort of an obstacle. I buy all local for my meat, veggies and dairy, which all come out of Wakefield. We keep it simple. I want my menu to read exactly as the dish is served. Barbecue lends itself quite well to this. 

Hank’s Down South 
33 State Street Narragansett