Smoke in Federal Hill
- JonParker Aug 18, 2007 11:05 AM
Over the past two days I've taken the opportunity to sample Smoke, the new BBQ place in Cross Street Market. Final verdict: it's darned good.
Yesterday I went for lunch and tried the pulled pork sandwich. A mound of pork literally pulled of the bone in big chunks, it was a tad drier than I like, although not enough to make it hard eating. I had it with the sweet and spicy sauce, a very fine and tangy BBQ sauce reminiscent of the gorilla sauce at the late lamented Smoky Hollow. It definitely had a kick to it.
I got my slaw on the side, and this is the only thing there I didn't like. It's not bad, but it's not what I'm looking for in a slaw. It had a flavor that i can't quite identify that was bothersome. I had the platter with two sides, and chose mac and cheese and baked beans. The mac and cheese was quite good, with toasty bread crumbs, although the flavor didn't hold up to the BBQ. I think the baked beans had jalepeno in them, as they were quite spicy. I was impressed.
Today I went back to sample the ribs. I had a rib platter again with two sides. It was five big ribs with an end piece. I had them put the sweet and spicy sauce on the ribs, but leave the end piece unsauced. The ribs were a little bit fattier than I'd prefer, but still meaty and good. I ate part of the end piece dry, and it had a good smoky flavor. The other part I dipped in their signature sauce, which contains pecans and jalepenos, among other things. This is a great BBQ sauce. It's sounds a bit precious, but it's actually very robust and delicious. I wasn't brave enough to take it on all the ribs, but I imagine i will next time. I had the baked beans again (couldn't resist them) and grilled corn. The corn was sweet and smoky and buttery and delicious. I'm going to have a hard time sampling the other sides when the corn and baked beans are so good.
This is darned good BBQ, something I didn't expect to find in one of the markets. It should not only be on the list of people who live in the neighborhood, it's worth traveling from another part of the city for. I recommend it without hesitation.
Be sure to report back. I'd love to get some more opinions. By the way, it's on the east end of the market next to Fenwick's meat counter and catty-corner from Steve's Lunch.
They also have chicken, pork loin and brisket, but there's only so much I can eat for the cause, and I judge a BBQ joint by their pulled pork and ribs.
Article about this place in this week's City Paper as well, for those who are interested. Nice little story about how the owner got started.
I'm not sure I'm willing to put any BBQ joint up against Andy's.
As I mentioned, I also found my pork a bit dry, but was willing to chalk it up to ordering in the late afternoon. I did like the flavor though, although no place has yet beat Andy's for me (before the liquids ban I hauled a mess of Andy's pork on an airplane to Oklahoma, and impressed everyone who ate it). I'd hate to think it's a chronic problem. The ribs were a tad fatty, but I liked those as well -- very good flavor.
The sauces and sides were excellent. While it's not a contender for the best in town, Andy Nelson's isn't three blocks from my house.
Went early in the day, around 11, so only a few of the sides were ready. Mac and cheese wasn't finished cooking and their corn hadn't been delivered yet. I had the pulled pork and my dining partner had the brisket. Both meats were very tender and not dry at all...but again, it was early in the day. Their BBQ sauce with the pecans is the best sauce I've ever had. Hands down. Owner was a real sweetheart, the kind of person that you'd love to see succeed in the business.