I’m still trying to sort our the calorie collection of London, but I wanted to squeeze this little review of Glasgow’s newest American attempt – Smoke Barbecue. Not to be confused with Smoak.
See, there’s just so many similar places in terms of menus, food, style and even names around it’s hard to keep up! Like the burger craze, barbecue is certainly not an untapped market in Glasgow. But barbecue is delicious none the less, so I was interested to see what Smoke can bring to the table.
Smoke has two other locations within Sheffield and Leeds and the Glasgow spot just opened on April 11th. Appearance wise, the space they have is excellent. Corner spot, just off Buchanan Street- massive high ceilings and a great big sign… but then then upon a closer look at its massive windows you see wooden pallets.
Wooden pallets to sit on. No. No. No. It definitely gives the place a cheap feel, along with the Ikea paper lanterns in a net… which doesn’t feel very barbecue at all. Apologies for some of these photos.
The mister and I went on day three of their opening week at around 6:00pm; it was relatively empty. The first thing I noticed was that the place didn’t have a strong smell of food, smoke or any sort of grilled meat. That is not what I expect from a barbecue business, especially one with an open kitchen.
Smoked meats are usually done low and slow, which means whatever they are serving tonight should’ve been stinking up the place all day.
We were sat right next to their open kitchen ‘Barbecue Pit’ which looked unused and to be honest – a little sad. On Smoke’s website it mentions they were inspired by a place in Austin, Texas to get started (I’m thinking The Saltlick).
Now let’s compare the Smoke pit to the Saltlick pit.
Aw, isn’t that cute?
All drinks come served in a mason jar styled glass- which I think still can be kind of fun, but is mostly played out by this point. Especially if the beverage doesn’t fit the full glass. Mason jars tend to suit lemonade and cocktails a bit more.
Now, let’s get down to the food. The whole load of it.
When the tray came out, I think I genuinely gasped because I was so shocked at how big the portions were – very generous for the price. And, if you don’t finish they will give you a doggie bag.
Trust me, you’ll need it.
The mister ordered the brisket plate and a side of beans, plus it comes with fries and a little patty that tasted like a hushpuppy. I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of it was, I don’t think it enhanced any aspect of the tray.
The brisket itself was quite dry, which was disappointing. Still edible, but you really needed to chew at some parts. However, the burnt ends were delicious. Good amount of char and a very sticky sauce. You can order the ends alone or add them to your order, which is a nice touch.
The sauce options were not to our liking. The sauce that comes with the brisket is very similar to The Saltlick’s, which I think might be what they are going for. Personally though, this type of sauce just isn’t for me. It’s thin, a bit too sweet, but also has a strong amount of cumin seasoning. Smoke’s own brand of sauce was basically dark treacle. Far too sweet for meat and chicken, it was borderline ice cream topping.
However, it seems like the Smoke sauce is used for the burnt ends. Something about the preparation changes the sweetness and texture of the sauce. It becomes even thicker, less sugary, and creates a good shiny coat.
I opted for the chicken with macaroni and cheese, plus the fries. Now, when a barbecue place offers smoked turkey or chicken I always get it. It’s not as common and I think it is utterly delicious. You can (or should) get such a clear smoky flavor on poultry.
The chicken itself had no smoky taste. It was large, a full half, and it tasted fine- it was moist, but it was basically just chicken. Outside of the skin, no real seasoning got through. Because it was on the bone I really struggled to cut the chicken without my tray spinning all over the place. And as messy as Smoke stresses they want you to get… I’m not sure how appropriate it is to hold a half chicken up to my face and start munching away. At least not in public…
Side wise, the beans had a nice jalapeño kick, but were undercooked. The macaroni and cheese desperately needed salt and pepper. I love stodge, but I didn’t really detect a ‘roux’ sauce in there. I think they just melted a lot of cheese over pasta.
BUT… Wait for it… the fries were my favorite thing. In fact, their fries might be some of the best I’ve had in Glasgow. I’m not sure what they do, if it’s just a double fry… but the coloring and texture just reminded me of back home. Really good flavor and crisp – they definitely nailed the potato. Skin on.
I ate the whole goddamn fry mountain.
I felt like such a slob after dinner, I couldn’t even wash it all away with the little lemon wet wipe they give you.
It’s not a fully impressive effort, but not all bad. They need to work on the details and fine tune their method. Maybe head back to Austin. The Glasgow site is extremely new, so maybe they just need a little time to settle in.
I’m a little tough on barbecue as a Texan, so I’ll cut them a little slack.
I think the city will welcome them. And me, I’ll be back for the fries at some point.
Oh, the fries.
2 West Regent Street, Glasgow, G2 1RW