Thursday, February 19, 2015

Smoke and Barrel Food Review

BBQ Sampler for 1

I learned a valuable lesson this evening: Don't order barbecue "to go." It just doesn't keepSmoke and Barrel has been around since September 2011; but crazy as it sounds, I'd never been. Tonight's visit was supposed to reaffirm my belief in local barbecue (Fat Pete's = not for me.) Sadly, a few positives is all I can muster in its defense. S&B has its moments... just not enough to keep me coming back for more.

It probably didn't help matters, that I enjoyed a really good (very affordable) BBQ lunch at DCity Smokehouse earlier in the day. Both were take-away orders, but cold barbecue (or even worse, cold mashed potatoes) is a huge no-no in my book. To its credit, Smoke & Barrel gives you a lot of food for your buck (a BBQ Sampler for 1, with two sides costs $22.)

Brisket with wet BBQ sauce

BBQ Samplers are available for one, two and four people; and believe you me, there's more than enough food for one. Mine came with four different meats... two of them tasty, two of them... not so much. Smoked Sausage comes split in half, and packs a lot of heat. It's crispy too (on its edges) giving it an added texture that makes it taste even better.

Pulled Pork with wet BBQ sauce

Even more delicious, Pulled Pork covered in a mild, wet BBQ sauce. The sauce is a bit sweet; but the meat is tender, almost void of fat and downright addictive. If I did ever come back, I'd stick to a 6 oz. serving of Pulled Pork ($13) with some Smoked Vegan Wings ($10) on the side. Sauces are a mystery (I think there's four or five to choose from) but my order came with two (wet BBQ and spicy.) Thicker would be nicer; but the idea is to add moisture, so whatever works...

Quarter slab of Ribs with spicy sauce

As good as the Smoked Sausage & Pulled Pork were, the other two meats (Brisket, Ribs) left lots to be desired. Brisket was cold, and surprisingly low on flavor. Not sure how long it marinates, but it didn't taste very long at all. Ditto for the relatively small slab of ribs, slathered in what's supposed to be a spicy sauce. Trouble is, there's not much meat (as is the case with most ribs) and the sauce is either mislabeled or underwhelming (not sure which is worse.) Good ribs should fall off the bone: Unfortunately, S&B's wanted to "stick around." What a shame.

French Fries

I'm a big fan of BBQ sides, but should have passed on double starch in favor of Cole Slaw or Fried Pickles. Fries were soggy, yet nicely seasoned. The potatoes were a hot cold mess, and clearly suffered the most damage in time/transport (about 10 minutes, not that long.) Lumpy in spots (but without skin) they did nothing for me, ultimately staying put in their container (if an Irishman like myself doesn't finish mashed potatoes, something's amiss.) Gravy could have helped (a little) but I wouldn't dream of trying them again, under any circumstances.

Mashed Potatoes

I can live with the price ($22 seems fair enough to me) but I strongly recommend eating in, and asking for a dry rub in addition to an assortment of sauces. S&B's Smoked Vegan Wings come highly recommended; and I really regret not ordering them. Unfortunately, regrets and reviews make strange bedfellows. Perhaps that's where the beer and whiskey come into play... Maybe next time.