Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Smoky Bit

There were definitely times when I crave for the good old American family meal – you know, those with the likes of barbecue ribs, potatoes and Mac n Cheese spread across the whole table - but strangely restaurants specializing in such seems to be few and far between in this part of the world. So I was somewhat excited with the news about the arrival of Smoke and Barrel (one without the trailing s) which promises to deliver true old-school American BBQ (and “best in town”) and at the time when new restaurant opening has become somewhat of a rarity. 

“It’d better worth the hike”, I told myself when I walked up to the top of Wyndham Street past Lan Kwai Fong where the restaurant is located. The sight of a full-blown smoker behind the kitchen counter is definitely a positive sign as far as credibility is concerned, and so was a full-house of customers drinking and eating on a random Thursday evening. 

Menu was short with many of the usual suspects from a typical Southern-style barbecue restaurants. Dishes from the Smoker (aka the Beast as they called it) were listed in a separate section. And everything is served family style as it should be. We started with a few appetizers – I love the grilled romaine salad, a modified version with Cantonese-inspired “hoi sin” dressing and salmon roes. Steak tartare is one of their signatures too, with the brisket jerky finely chopped and mixed with truffle mayo and gherkins – didn’t get much of the truffle flavor but I love the creamy texture and rich meat flavor. We also had the yellowtail ceviche – the fish was great with firm and fatty texture, I just wish there were more kick in the acidity and spiciness to make it more interesting. 

Meat is what we came here for and we had a good share of it. The brisket was AMAZING -  melt-in-your-mouth tender with a good layer of fat on top with a good bark and smoke ring outside. That surely is a real deal. Baby back ribs were also cooked tender and fell right off the bones with the meat well infused with the cider-barbecue basting sauce. Thought the chicken was a bit dry and need a bit more brining I reckon, but the house-made sausages were great, working well with the house pickles on the side. 

The side of Jalapeno cornbread was another of my favorite of the evening, served warm with a nice crust and tasty even without the sour cream served on the side as condiments. Wish I could like the Mac n Cheese more – love the fried shallot dust on top but it’s a bit grainy and not as creamy as I wanted. We had soft-serve as dessert – can’t go wrong with cookies and cream and marshmallow and plenty of bourbon caramel drizzled on top, but I would definitely want to try their key lime pie next time too. Being a responsible driver, went for one drink only, and the barrel-aged Negroni worked just well with the food. 

It's definitely promising - I am happy to have that brisket and sausages and cornbread as a meal any time. 

When? November 12 2020
Where? Smoke and Barrel, 1-2/F Wyndham Mansion, 32 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? All-American Brisket

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