Monday, September 17, 2018

Quick Bite: Smokeyard BBQ

Barbecue ribs & chicken at Smokeyard BBQ
Typical Sundays for me involve lunch and maybe a movie with my wife and parents. This week we tried out Smokeyard BBQ & Chop Shop, a relatively new addition to UTC Mall. I know barbecue snobs—er, connoisseurs—have some very strong opinions, so hopefully I don't offend anyone by saying that the barbecue game here is pretty strong.

The best things I tried were the St. Louis spare ribs with Smokeyard sauce and, surprisingly, the BBQ chips. The ribs had that classic tender, falling-off-the-bone texture that's made them a Southern staple, coated but not smothered in a balanced sweet but tangy sauce. They'll be my choice on any future return trip.

That plate came with barbecue chicken, which was fairly moist and tender but couldn't really measure up to the ribs. (Then again, they're ribs—few things can!) The side was a sweet potato mash with pecans. It had a nice autumn sweetness, though to me the appeal of those flavors tends to wear thin after a few bites.

Fried chicken sandwich at Smokeyard BBQMy fried chicken sandwich was pretty tasty. It had a lightly sweet brioche bun and juicy chicken with the gratifying crunch you get from a thick batter. They went a little heavy on the peri-peri sauce, though, which tasted much like a buffalo sauce. That flavor often dominated, so it was hard to appreciate the lime aioli, red chili and slaw. The accompanying fries had a nice slightly irregular texture but were pretty forgettable with their complex flavor profile of... salt. (Combined with a thrilling side of... Heinz ketchup.)

Pulled pork sandwich at Smokeyard BBQAmy's pulled pork sandwich was better than I expected. All too often pulled pork is drowning in cloyingly sweet sauce, but that wasn't the case here at all. Combining the same balanced house BBQ sauce as the ribs with a slight tang from the pickled onion made for a solid plate—especially since that plate included the surprise standout of the meal, the housemade barbecue chips. They had a great salty crunch with touches of sugar and smokiness. The seasoning could be a little more evenly spread, but if they solve that, they should be bagging these and shipping them around the country.

Now that UTC Mall is putting the finishing touches on its massive renovation, has finally come into its own as a food destination: its lineup now includes Larsen's, Great Maple, Eureka, Sweetfin Poke and Din Tai Fung, to name a few. Though it may not stand out among this group of upscale eateries, Smokeyard certainly fits right in.

Score: 7.5 out of 10 (Great)

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