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Dec 11, 2006 04:06 PM

Smoke Joint - Thank Jebus!!

There has been a pretty consistent choir of praise for this BBQ joint in the old Cambodian restaurant space in Fort Greene, but I'd like to add another voice to the music as I finally got around to eating there Saturday night with four friends.

First, the food - hallelujah finally some NYC BBQ where you can actually taste the smoke. I ordered a half rack of Spare ribs which had a fantastically caramelized outer shell of spiced goodness and a juicy, smokey bonanza of meat underneath. The ribs were not sauced upon serving, but you are given a side ramaken of sauce - I did not need it. The meat itself was so well prepared I touched the sauce only once just to try it.

I had two sides - mac/cheese and BBQ beans. The mac/cheese was good but unremarkable. The beans however!! I almost like them better than the ribs I had. Deep molasses taste with a solid does of pulled pork in the beans (I think it was pork,could have been beef, not sure). Rich and hugely rewarding.

My friends had brisket which I did not try and Baby Back ribs which I also did not try. The brisket is not sliced in strips as I've usually seen but rather looks like a prime rib. Gloriously fatty and a huge portion. That's mine next time.

I still think Dinosaur is the best BBQ in the city but this is a very close second and I don't have to leave my borough to get it. The menu is rounded out pretty well but there are no combo options, which is disappointing - I would have liked a ribs/brisket combo or a chicken/ribs combo. The owner works the counter and is one of the most hospitable and helpful people I've run into at a restaurant. Because there is no waitress service the tables are first come first serve. This could be problematic with larger parties but the owner said that Moe's (the bar around the corner) will let you take your dinner there and eat as long as you drink. This seems like a fine option to me.

Oh and maybe I missed it but I didn't see any cornbread. Bummer. All in all though, this place gets what BBQ is about - SMOKE and large, fresh portions. It's always such a nice shock to taste actual smoked meat in a BBQ joint in this city as it so rarely is considered more important then dumping large quantities of vile over-sugared sauce on clearly boiled meat.

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  1. I have to agree with the praise of Smoke Joint. - We were in there too, on Saturday night and my take is that its a class operation with very tasty food. The spare ribs, tips and shredded (?) beef all were full of good meaty and smoky flavor and well cooked - the sides were also generally good - one of my companions scarfed up all the beans so my recommendation is secondhand - the mac&cheese was delicious but not exactly the yellow cheese classic - there was some cream or cream cheese, as well as some nutmeg going on in there - kale was good and vinegary but could have been rounded out with some meat flavor - I think these guys could learn from ICI in the delicious greens department; the non-mayo slaw was made with red cabbage, and the pieces were too big and leathery - spicing was very good but this one could use some more work.

    I think the sauces could be improved upon (the tomato based one was better) - and be more interesting but its only a quibble - the meat didint need the sauce. Would be good to have salt on the tables.

    Yes there is cornbread of a sort - one of our dishes was garnished with two tiny and very sweet and insipid corn muffins (out of a box???) Cornbread, please.

    I really liked the way this place was set up, down to the nice round trays used for selfservice, and the care and professionalism of the guys. think it can only improve

    1. the guys are only included with one of the dishes right now - when i was there a few weeks ago, they said they were waiting until they perfected it to add it as a side, since their kitchen isn't ideal for baking right now.

      2 Replies
      1. re: dahl01

        Can I assume they'll be adding cornbread, and not guys, as a side?

        1. re: Peter Cherches

          whoops, meant to write "the guys are only including cornbread..."

      2. I tried smoke joint tonight after hearing the great reviews. I had a sampling of everything from the hacked pork to the beef tips, the barbeque shrimp, and the baby back ribs.

        The service was good and fast...the owner was ultra friendly and I really was looking forward to enjoying our food. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. The hacked pork was the most smokey but quite wet and soggy. I had to smother it with their bbq sauce to enjoy was quite forgettable.

        The beef tips were decent though I'm not a huge beef bbq guy. The sauce was a bit too molasses-rich. The baby back ribs were just okay as well. They weren't as smokey as others had mentioned on this board. They were a bit blackened and fell off the bone rather easily. The bbq shrimp were totally forgettable.

        The highlight of the meal was the mac and cheese. Nothing outstanding but definitely my favorite of my meal with a good cheesey crust on the top. The beans looked like their were refried and were a bit of a mess to me.

        I really wanted to like the food. The place is nice and clean, the service was quality, but at the end of the day, its about the cue and I left quite indifferent. This is definitely far from a destination place for me. I give it a 6 out of 10 for nyc bbq. RUB would get a 10.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sam1

          Wow. I find that incredibly hard to believe. Particularly the report about the mac and cheese being the best part of the meal. I actually found the mac and cheese pretty unremarkable and there was absolutely no cheesey crust on mine. Maybe they are experimenting still. Sorry you had a bad experience - just means more room at the tables for me!

        2. yeah, i think i overheard them say that they were pleased with the way things have rolled out but arent done yet. they mentioned that they will open for lunch, have desserts, and deliver in the near future.

          maybe i was expecting a lot from them based on the reviews, but i just wasnt blown away.

          1. just to put my 2 cents in, i loved the mac and cheese. i think it's next level and the nutmeg is a stroke of brilliance. i may permanently alter my mac and cheese recipe after having theirs. i'm quite surprised that so many people don't like it or find it unremarkable. perhaps it's just a matter of taste or maybe they're inconsistant and still tweeking the recipe. i wanted to lick the disposable container it came in. you'll be happy to know that i refrained, though.