We made it to The Smoke Shop the other night, just a few short days after opening. At 6p the bar was already packed with the after work hipster crowd and the dining room was filling up. As expected service has a few kinks to get worked out going from 0-100 with really no soft opening. However Pit Master Husbands has certainly been perfecting his que behind the scenes. Every meat we had was perfectly prepared, and had excellent smoke flavor. We tried:
- Brisket - Outstanding. Nice bark, thoroughly moist and unctuous without being overly fatty. I generally don’t order brisket as it is eather bone dry or all fat. Smoke Shop will be the only place I order brisket in the area other than BTs.
- Burnt Ends - This was my favorite meat. Best burnt ends since the original East Coast Grill.
- Ribs - Cooked to perfection. My little ones devoured them and we had to get another order. The second earlier was a bit heavier on their dust/rub which is a bit sweet for my taste. Served with pickles, pickled beets & onions, and watermelon slices
- Chicken Thigh - Moist, but not overly fatty. I could have done without the glaze.
- Cornbread - On the sweet side, but moist and tasty
- Beans – Nicely al dente and not drenched in bbq sauce. With pork, onions, and peppers mixed in.
- Mac & Cheese – the pimento mac & cheese was a bit spicy for my kids liking. I recommend they offer a more plain version of this side.
- Bread & Butter pickles: my daughter ate en entire bowl of these
The prices are more Sweet Cheeks than BTs, however unlike Sweet Cheeks the BBQ is excellent at The Smoke Shop and actually worth the prices given the location. All in all we are looking forward to our next visit, we are bringing a large party of our visiting family in next weekend.
A few musings:
- The meat is cooked so perfectly that I hope they start offering dry rubbed only versions of the ribs and chicken. I don’t always need my meat sauced prior to serving. The bbq is a definitely sweet overall.
- I also hope they offer the meats a la carte, and not only in platters. For take out, please have a bulk a la carte option.
- They need to get some SEO help. While a great name for other purposes, the Smoke Shop is a bit general on the web and neither their website nor a Yelp link are on the front page when Googling. There are many smoke shops of other kinds in Cambridge.
- Kendall square is absolutely bananas. We drove over rather than biking or taking a long walk as we had our children with us. It was grid locked and bikes and cars were not playing nice (with the bikes as to blame as cars). The change from when I worked in this area 10 years ago is just mind boggling. They better get some traffic and parking plans worked out quickly, as with each new building that opens it is going to get worse. Also, when the Longfellow reopens, while getting to Kendall will be easier from Boston, overall traffic in the square will be worse.
- While the food was worth the prices, the bourbon/alcohol list looked to be a bit of a gouge. I wasn’t drinking as I was driving my kids so I didn’t get to see the pour sizes. They will make bank on their bar business with the after work crowd, but the alcohol prices definitely seem a bit steep. We will be drinking on our next visit, so I will revisit my value assessment. The cost of living in greater Boston seems to be spiraling with all the development that is going on. Good for my real estate value though.