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smoke joint: what the ?!?!?

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. 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. 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. 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. 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

            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

              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

                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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                          But Chowhounds are beyond that, right?!

                  2. re: pitu

                    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

                      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. 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

                    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

                      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

                        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

                          >> 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

                            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

                              "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.