Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Smoke. Smokehouse Restaurant.

New Farm, Brisbane, Queensland.

Formally Blue Smoke, this restaurant has been featured on a few TV shows and that’s where I first heard about it.  The idea that an authentic American smoked BBQ rib joint was operating in Brisbane was music to my ears.  The TV informed us about the ex-pat American rib expert who mopped the slow cooked hickory smoked ribs with his secret BBQ sauce while on the grill until they were glazed to perfection.  Drool was running down my chin.

Having enjoyed the pleasures of smokehouses in the USA and being bitterly disappointed in what passes for BBQ ribs here in Australia, it became a priority for us to trek on out to New Farm and give the Blue Smoke a go.  Of course life gets the better of you, as it does sometimes, and it took over a year before we found the time to drive the two and a half hours to rendezvous with the pork of our dreams.

It was a lovely spring Saturday lunch time when we arrived in Brisbane and drove around to find the restaurant.  We couldn’t find it, so we parked close and walked around where we thought it was until finally I asked a security guard if he knew.  He surely did and pointed us in the right direction.  We kept missing it because it’s not only tucked away amongst a bunch of other shops, but it’s changed its name to “The Smoke.” The place had obviously changed hands while I wasn’t looking.

Now this is where my dream of a great big rib eating frenzy started to turn into a sad day for the salivating pork lover.  We stepped inside of what looked like a cafĂ© and were less than warmly greeted by a waiter asking if we wanted a table.  I wasn’t quick enough to think of something witty to say other than yes please.  We had to wait while they cleared the debris off the nearest table / half booth to be seated. 

The menu had one of my favourite southern style comfort foods, BBQ chicken wings with blue cheese sauce.  And of course we had to have the ribs.  Something wasn’t right about the place.  The best I can figure is that rib joints are all about feeling comfortable, tying on a big old bib and burying your face in unbelievably delicious meat.  This place was stuck up and cold.  They confuse themselves between a second rate rib joint and a fine dining venue.  The extraordinarily high prices and lousy atmosphere, service and decor attest to this.

Ok, so we wait nearly half an hour for our order and when it comes I don’t recognise anything.  The chicken wings weren’t big Buffalo wings but little wing dings with some sauce.  They really weren’t anything to write home about, and the blue cheese sauce was watery and bland.  The ribs looked like dinosaur ribs.  Some thing Fred Flintstone would eat.  If memory serves me right, properly slow cooked BBQ ribs are hard to pick up because the bone slides out of the meat, that’s how tender they are.  I had to take a knife to these things and carve the meat off.  It reminded me of a slab of pork belly with some beef rib bones inserted.  Nothing could be further than the real American rib experience.

Honestly folks, if you want to experience the real deal, save your money up and fly to Decatur county Alabama and visit Big Bobs famous BBQ rib joint, or any one of a thousand genuine smokehouses in the southern states of American.  You’ll be hooked.  You’ll never forget the amazing flavour and you’ll never lower your standards and eat at a dive like The Smoke at New Farm in Brisbane.  Tell your friends.  Like you, they deserve to be warned.

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