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smoke joint: what the ?!?!?

joekarten Jul 19, 2007 03:35 PM

went to the smoke joint today in fort greene. what an astounding disappointment. walked in, asked the server guy what he recommended. he said "pulled pork sandwich." ordered that. it was ready in like 2 minutes. got it to go since i couldn't find parking nearby. got out to the car and i found one plastic container of pulled pork, one small container of coleslaw (like one forkful), three pickle slices in their own container, a thing of hot sauce and a kaiser roll that had been sliced and wrapped in plastic wrap. i figured, what the hell ?!?! but decided to assemble the sandwich in the car and eat it anyway. no fork, no napkins. luckily i had napkins in the car for occasions like this.

now i know that usually a bbq sandwich means bbq slathered on bread, but this seemed ridiculous, the whole do it yourself nature of it. i mean, if you're going to do the slathered sandwich thing, put it on a plate, wrap it up and give the customers fork and napkins. but a do it yourself sandwich that you have to assemble? without fork or napkin or plate? come on.

anyway, i forged ahead and assembled the sandwich. i put all the items on the bread, including the pickle and slaw since there was no fork included in my do it yourself package, and ate up. the bread was stale. the coleslaw was too sweet and the pork was ok, but not memorable. liked the 3 pickle slices, though.

so needless to say, i'm NEVER going back. if slacker hipsters can't get it together enough to offer a good product, then they should stay out of business. for my money, pearson's, fette sau and pies and thighs all kill this place. (my favorite of the three was pies and thighs, but the drink selection at fette is awesome.) for my money and taste, this place was absolutely terrible.

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  1. hatless RE: joekarten Jul 19, 2007 10:45 PM

    And if they packed it to go assembled and sauced, someone else here would be complaining that the bread got soggy and was falling apart by the time they got to eat it.

    I can't speak for the rolls or, really, for your experience. Stale is stale and that's too bad. But when we had the St. Louis ribs and some of that pork a few months back, it was good, respectable barbecue: pink inside, charred and chewy on the outside, and smoky. I did prefer the mayo-less slaw which had a bit of a Southeast Asian tinge to it, but then I consider it a bonus when a barbecue place has any sides worth half a damn.

    1. s
      sam1 RE: joekarten Jul 20, 2007 07:04 AM

      i thought the service inside was fine...my problem was the food just wasnt very good. and the board made it seem like this was the top new bbq joint.

      good mac and cheese though. i wont go again unless i have a hankering and in the area.

      1. Woodside Al RE: joekarten Jul 20, 2007 07:27 AM

        I've found that ribs are the order there. I've sometimes had really good ribs from Smoke Joint, although you're better off getting them earlier, since they have often have them ready for lunch and just reheat them for later orders. The pulled pork is not really up to snuff, despite the fact that the staff seems to think it's great. Pies & Thighs' and Fette Sau's pork are notably better. Although I do love SJ's greens. I've also had some hurried chucklehead service at Smoke Joint, with parts of my order missing or not up to par at all.

        1. funkjester RE: joekarten Jul 21, 2007 02:22 PM

          Boy...I've seen so many things about this place that have been all over the map, from those who really love it, to those who think it is absolute trash. Really too bad, since I love great 'Cue, and it is in my neighborhood.

          Been hoping the wildly-fluctuating opinions would smooth out as they got their act together, but it seems I'll still be avoiding the place for a while so as not to be disappointed. Too bad.

          11 Replies
          1. re: funkjester
            pitu RE: funkjester Jul 21, 2007 04:19 PM

            I'll hazard that the wildly fluctuating opinions have as much to do with the posters as the Joint . . . people do tend to like what they like when it comes to the many shades of BBQ.

            Since you love great 'Cue and live nearby, do us all a favor and do a multi-visit report with details!

            (and thx Woodside Al for pointing to the ribs as the thing they know how to do)

            1. re: pitu
              Geo8rge RE: pitu Jul 22, 2007 04:03 AM

              In general I find BBQ places in NYC are often 'on' or 'off'. It may be the style of cooking, variation in the qualities of the meats, or staff problems.

              1. re: Geo8rge
                The Engineer RE: Geo8rge Jul 23, 2007 10:46 AM

                Those are good points to consider, and also consider that real BBQ involves a good amount of "gut" and "feel." Most NYC Q-ers just haven't had enough practice on their five year old (or less) set-ups.

              2. re: pitu
                wleatherette RE: pitu Jul 23, 2007 09:02 AM

                see, on our visit the ribs were the worst of what we had. beef short ribs were tender but lacked flavor, and the price (2 for $15) kind of stung, while the pork ribs were very chewy in a way that suggested they had been sitting around. i really liked the wings, but one good order of chicken wings wasn't worth the car ride or the $50 we ended up spending on a not particularly satisfying meal.

                1. re: wleatherette
                  hatless RE: wleatherette Jul 23, 2007 11:40 AM

                  Just curious -- what region's barbecue are you comparing their pork ribs to? Do you look for them to be falling off the bone, firm and pink, or some other way?

                  1. re: hatless
                    wleatherette RE: hatless Jul 23, 2007 02:05 PM

                    i like my pork spareribs to be fairly firm, ideally with a good crust from the rub (not a big fan of saucy bbq) - really something to get your teeth into. but in this case, i really think that the region is neither here nor there. our ribs just weren't very tasty.

                    1. re: wleatherette
                      hatless RE: wleatherette Jul 23, 2007 06:16 PM

                      Works for me. I find discussions of barbecue tend to be all over the place, with quite a few people disappointed when the meat isn't as tender as those baked baby-backs that come off the Sysco truck, or who think there's something wrong with the pork when it's served pink.. so the clarification helps, thanks. :)

                      1. re: hatless
                        wleatherette RE: hatless Jul 23, 2007 07:11 PM

                        i know exactly what you mean.

                        1. re: hatless
                          The Engineer RE: hatless Jul 24, 2007 10:37 AM

                          But Chowhounds are beyond that, right?!

                  2. re: pitu
                    Ralphus RE: pitu Jul 23, 2007 10:25 AM

                    I've been to Smoke Joint maybe 7 times over the past couple of months. I've eaten in and taken out. Here are my thoughts:
                    - They could give you more for your money. You spend $9 for Hacked Pork and all you get is a container of meat and some sauce. I'd agree with the original poster about the total package on the sandwich as well. Weak.
                    - Hacked Chicken/Pork - decent smoky flavor, not earth shattering by itself, but I love it when mixed with the Joint sauce and Hollapeno Sauce.
                    - Dogs are really good as are the wings
                    - Short ribs may be the best thing on the menu, but a little pricey for what you get (see above). These are also much better with the sauces provided.
                    - Babybacks - I hated these. Slim pickins. I would never buy them again.
                    - Slaw - love the creamy slaw. Reminds me of the PA Dutch sort of stuff I got as a kid.
                    - Beans - OK, but not stellar.

                    Everyone should also note that they have no delivery through the end of the summer. This seems really ridiculous given that every other restaurant in NYC delivers.

                    The Joint is a take-out standard for me when I have a meat craving. I am sure there is better Q out there, but I've only been seriously disappointed here once.

                    1. re: Ralphus
                      hatless RE: Ralphus Jul 23, 2007 11:37 AM

                      I recently spent five years living in Florida and hitting local barbecue places there. Smoke Joint's prices are only slightly higher, if at all, than prices for barbecue I encountered there and elsewhere in the south. Cheaper barbecue was usually out of a trailer.

                      It's pretty standard for "meat only" prices to be only a dollar or two less than a platter with the same amount of meat, too. Potato salad and collard greens don't cost nearly as much as ribs, pork and the fuel for 8 hours of smoking.

                      Every restaurant in the city is serving short ribs these days. They used to be cheap like oxtails and skirt steak. If you know where I can get them cooked well and sold cheap, let's hear it. :)

                2. b
                  Brooklyn Mamacita RE: joekarten Jul 23, 2007 10:19 AM

                  Meh, I didn't really like it when I went. Tried the pork and tried the catfish. The catfish had possibilities (tender and the crust looked golden) but ended up flavorless. I won't even talk about the pork. The mac n cheese was exceptionally awful. I've never met a mac n cheese I didn't like, but this was just watery and gross. The thick corkscrew noodles they use were very chewy too. The vinegar slaw turned out to be the only part I liked. I’ve had good bbq down south, so maybe I’m just picky.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Brooklyn Mamacita
                    cheetah RE: Brooklyn Mamacita Jul 23, 2007 01:44 PM

                    I ate here a few weeks ago and was also unimpressed: pulled pork was dry and had absolutely no smoke flavor at all, making me wonder if it was really just steamed. Hacked beef was worse -- beef cubes would have been a more accurate description: not very tender cubes of slimey-ish meat in sauce. Again, no smoke and seemed like it could have very well just been cooked in sauce on a stovetop. I hate to be harsh, but it really was that bad.
                    And, though you're not s'posed to judge bbq by its sides, I had the worst cornbread of my life there. I can go either way when it comes to cornbread -- sweet or not -- but this was very sweet and had the odd crumbly but oily texture and taste of a packaged deli pastry.

                    Try Fette Sau instead -- their pork ribs are great.

                    1. re: cheetah
                      sam1 RE: cheetah Jul 23, 2007 02:29 PM

                      i think fette sau is one of the top places for bbq in the city...delicious pork ribs, excellent pork shoulder.

                      i just wish their beans weren't so spicy.

                      1. re: cheetah
                        funkjester RE: cheetah Jul 23, 2007 04:09 PM

                        see, I'm not doing any type of multi-visit reporting or droppping any type of cash at a place that gets even one or two of the type of reviews posted directly above. Sorry, I'm a chef, and these guys are obviously not, nor are they seasoned restaurant people, no matter the volume of publicity they may have gotten since their opening.

                        The hype machine is what it is in NYC, and many new places get a pass for a while based on the cachet factor, but ultimately, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak.

                        I'll pass on the Smoke Joint. I may have to pay through the nose at Hill Country, but at least I know I'm getting good, authentic 'Cue for the tariff. Fette Sau may be next on my 'Cue list.

                        1. re: funkjester
                          squid kun RE: funkjester Jul 23, 2007 11:55 PM

                          >> The hype machine is what it is in NYC, and many new places get a pass for a while based on the cachet factor, but ultimately, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak.

                          Well, I hear ya, but Chowhound is one place where negative opinions can immediately bypass the "hype machine." In fact, many early slams on much-publicized restaurants strike me as reflexive over-reactions, and I discount them accordingly.

                          Smoke Joint, in its first weeks and months, got pretty solid praise here. The dissenters have weighed in louder in recent weeks. Were they holding back early on, cowed by the "hype machine"? I doubt it. My impression, after reading both early and recent reports, is that the place is slipping.

                          1. re: squid kun
                            brooklyndude RE: squid kun Aug 6, 2008 03:03 AM

                            I live in the neighborhood & have eaten here dozens of times out of laziness. Its just plain awful. Fette Sau & Hill Country totally kill it, as does Daisey Mae's. The meat is almost always dried out, the sauces are second rate, and they don't really try to represent a single regional style.

                            I don't think it slipped, I think people were too excited by the idea of having something decent in the neighborhood and then calmed down.

                            That said the people that own it are super nice & the Lil Pig Market (if it is ever open) is much better.

                            1. re: brooklyndude
                              Bob Martinez RE: brooklyndude Aug 6, 2008 09:38 AM

                              "I don't think it slipped, I think people were too excited by the idea of having something decent in the neighborhood and then calmed down."

                              I wish I had a dollar for every time I've seen that. Rave reviews, then people voicing some mild criticism, then silence.

                    2. bigjeff RE: joekarten Aug 4, 2008 09:27 PM

                      got some food here over the weekend and, disappointed. although I may have ordered the worst dish on the menu (and no wonder, it is not even mentioned in this thread); went with the smoked chicken because, well, I wanted something healthy. the chicken while smoky, was dry dry dry, the typical dry that amateur bbq'ers produce. not good. the beans were okay, actually I liked how firm they were; the greens were good, the cornbread was a horrible little square of cake. the short rib I had was amazing tender but, not amazing flavor. real fatty and tasty in that sense, but the beef flavor itself not great and you could taste the smoke in the chicken better than the beef. place was real crowded though but I suspect the real reason is that ruthie's was closed that day, so that was the closest alternative (at least, that was the reason I went there)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bigjeff
                        jen kalb RE: bigjeff Aug 5, 2008 01:23 PM

                        we were in there last week for the first time in a while - we liked the baby back ribs and the greens, the cornbread was ridic as you said, except when dunked in with the greens, no napkins anywhere to be found. We are no BBQ purists but we liked the pork we had.

                      2. bigmackdaddy RE: joekarten Aug 5, 2008 08:51 PM

                        After completing a road trip to and fro down south (NYC - Birmingham on I-81,then back on Rt-17) I can safely say NYC just doesn't do bbq right. There are some hole in the walls in East NY and Brownsville which have good soul food but that is about it.

                        1. MB fka MB RE: joekarten Aug 6, 2008 05:38 AM

                          yup, it's just not good. I live in the 'hood and gave it a couple of tries but now if I'm having a soul food craving I just go to Night of the Cookers around the corner. It is NOT a destination restaurant, but I really love their collard greens and you can get fried chicken (not the best batter job, but not dried out and good flavor), catfish, or blackened salmon with mac and cheese and collard greens and get 2 meals out of it.

                          what's a bummer is next door to the smoke joint was lil pig market and they were doing some GREAT sandwiches there for about $6-$8 and it seems to be no more? fried chicken sandwich, fried fish, meatloaf - all were really good.

                          1. ketchupgirl RE: joekarten Aug 6, 2008 12:55 PM

                            My pulled pork sandwich was inedible--have never thown away pork before Smoke Joint.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: ketchupgirl
                              kiteIess RE: ketchupgirl Aug 6, 2008 01:06 PM

                              You have no idea how glad I am to see some negative posts about this place. I used to live off of clermont and tried it on numerous occasions. Every time I had the same results. The food is terrible, always overdone and incredibly expensive. Is it really that hard to make good bbq? Is it too much to ask for it at a reasonable price?

                              1. re: kiteIess
                                bobjbkln RE: kiteIess Aug 7, 2008 07:43 AM

                                « Is it really that hard to make good bbq?» YES
                                «Is it too much to ask for it at a reasonable price?» In NYC, Probably

                                1. re: kiteIess
                                  NYJewboy RE: kiteIess Jun 22, 2009 02:19 PM

                                  Yes, apparently it IS hard to make good barbeque. Go down south and compare. NYC cue stinks.

                              2. d
                                Damien RE: joekarten Jun 22, 2009 02:06 PM

                                I went to Smoke Joint over a year ago and it was amazing that day for the ribs. The chicken was decent (Beer can Chicken is what i really wanted). I have been back twice and was dissapointed by the Ribs since. Their sides are awful and they just dont seem to be able to keep the quality as the demand increases. That is not surising considiring they have a tiny smoker. I have gone for lunch and dinner and they just seemed to try to serve more meat than the smoker has time to make. I barbecue myself and would much rather go to Fette Sau in Williamsburg if i wasnt the Pit master for the meal. Fette Sau is much more Authentic BBQ with smoked Pork belly and BRISKET

                                1. NYJewboy RE: joekarten Jun 22, 2009 02:16 PM

                                  Safe to say: this place stinks.
                                  Pulled pork=tame, in need of flavor
                                  Ribs=tasteless and dried out
                                  sides=a bad joke on those who like sides

                                  Do not go. This place does nothing right.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: NYJewboy
                                    Daniel76 RE: NYJewboy Jun 24, 2009 10:13 AM

                                    I went here the other day on a beautiful Saturday.. I think three weeks ago. I thought the chicken wings were excellent actually. .They first smoked them and then fried them. The sauce was really good too..

                                    I was surprised at how long it took them to give me a beer.. The waitress was really nice.. I smiled at her and asked her if she would poor me a beer in a travel cup.. She obliged. I can't speak for anything else on the menu I tried one of the sides and thought it was really good.

                                    I am moving into the hood hopefully soon and will further check it out.

                                    1. re: Daniel76
                                      AppleSister RE: Daniel76 Jun 25, 2009 10:09 AM

                                      I live in the neighborhood also, and I've been a couple of times over the years. Living here, I think of it is as a neighborhood place, a nice place to eat out without spending a lot of money, but not as must-go BBQ place. Recently, I've enjoyed the catfish sandwich and the collard greens and LOVED the corn on the cob slathered with spicy mayo and scallions. Seriously, I am considering eating that corn once a week this summer. But given that my favorites are not BBQ, I'm not voicing a strong dissent.

                                      What I REALLY miss is Lil' Pig, the place they used to run next to Smoke Joint. The menu there was top-notch--high-quality ingredients, fresh flavors, great soups, salads, sandwiches at great prices. There was nothing else like it in the neighborhood. That space now also only serves the Smoke Joint menu :(

                                      1. re: AppleSister
                                        brooklyndude RE: AppleSister Jun 28, 2009 11:22 PM

                                        Couldn't agree more about Lil Pig. I really miss those sandwiches.

                                        Is the catfish sandwich similar?

                                        Lunch at the General Greene is a similar concept, although a little pricier. Some of those sandwiches are worth getting.

                                        1. re: brooklyndude
                                          AppleSister RE: brooklyndude Jun 30, 2009 11:36 AM

                                          The catfish sandwich, if I remember correctly, isn't exactly the same but I think they use the same tangy sauce. I'll have to try General Greene again. I haven't gone back since I had brunch there and paid $12 for two little eggs in a skillet. I don't know why it pissed me off so much--I don't mind paying for good food--but something about it really rubbed me the wrong way.

                                          1. re: AppleSister
                                            brooklyndude RE: AppleSister Jul 4, 2009 01:36 PM

                                            The lunch menu during the week is better than the brunch menu they have on the weekends.

                                  2. j
                                    JacksonH RE: joekarten Jun 25, 2009 05:24 PM

                                    Had the short ribs and greens here and a similar experience to bigjeff. Ribs were quite tender, not in the least bit dry like so many have apparently experienced, but there was no smokiness whatsoever. Maybe the name of the place is supposed to be ironic. If you want smoky flavored short ribs go to Texas Ranger BBQ in the back of Legends Bar in Jackson Heights.

                                    1. p
                                      Peter Cherches RE: joekarten Jul 1, 2009 10:44 AM

                                      Went there once before a show at BAM. Bad food, dreadfully slow service that put half the customers at risk of missing their show (arrived at 6:30, shouldn't have been that difficult to be out by 7:45--I'm not a slow eater). Paid with cash just to get out quicker.


                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Peter Cherches
                                        pitu RE: Peter Cherches Jul 1, 2009 11:40 AM

                                        It's just mediocre. Won't kill you, won't make you go out of your way.
                                        There's certainly many more delicious pre-BAM options.

                                        1. re: pitu
                                          brooklyndude RE: pitu Jul 4, 2009 01:36 PM

                                          I think it's worse than just mediocre.

                                          1. re: brooklyndude
                                            jen kalb RE: brooklyndude Jul 4, 2009 08:13 PM

                                            Sorry, I disagree, not a destination or a great BBQ place but Weve had some tasty food there. I just wish they would lose those so-called BBQ sauces they serve along side, those are tired recipes - and make sure you get table set ups - the last time I had to go into the bathroom and snag towels, because ther were no napkins.

                                            1. re: brooklyndude
                                              Peter Cherches RE: brooklyndude Jul 6, 2009 07:29 AM

                                              But mediocre is less interesting than worse!

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