Back in Ottawa and visiting LJ. Going out for dinner I wanted to keep exploring the explosion of BBQ places opening up there. The Smoque Shack is one of them, and I had heard good things.
Actually, the location (in The Market) used to be a Chinese restaurant that I liked - they did AYCE, but instead of a buffet, it was order dish after dish so everything was fresh.
But that is the past, and now the place is 'que. But not traditional BBQ. As their website states:
"Forget everything you thought you knew about BBQ. The Smoque Shack brings you the sauce-dripping, meat-sliding, bone-gnawing taste you thought you couldn't get north of the 49th. You don't need a special occasion to visit the SmoQue Shack. But you do need to be hungry."
We had to wait a little bit as the place was packed. It was a diverse group of people from families, business types, hipsters, old people.
There are two levels to the restaurant. The lower section when you enter where the bar is located and some seats. The upper level is the main dining room where we were sat.
We did some sampling of the menu, wanting to try a bunch of things. Our little bounty consisted of Wings, Rib Tips, Jamaican Jerk Pork, and cornbread.
Fries (a side for the pork), these were fresh cut, a little mushy, but nicely seasoned.
Cornbread ($2.50 for personal serving) were tasty, bite-size, but nothing special. Just well made cornbread.
The Jamaican Jerk Pork ($8 for 1 1/2 lb) is "Spice Rubbed Shoulder, Hand Chopped , Crusty Outside , tender juicy inside." This was tasty, and while it is not traditional American BBQ, it is still BBQ, right? Just from the Caribean. It had a very smokey taste - but campfire smokey, not BBQ smokey.
The Rib Tips ($12) are "Marinated and fried up crisp, served dusted in our special seasoning or tossed in one of our signature sauces." These were tasty little bites. I was expecting riblettes for some reason, but I loved the fried-crispy texture with the flavourful smokey meat. Hard to eat due to the bones. And they went very well with the sauces.
And then there were the wings.
Wings are "Mesquite seasoned, double dusted served by the pound, tossed or sauce on the side." We went sauce on the side to try the different sauces.
The wings were medium in both length and meatiness. The wingettes also still had their tips still on. The double dusting is very crispy and gives a nice texture. The meat itself was a bit tough though. The dusting had no real flavour of it's own, but the chicken meat was smokey. But then that's why there's sauce . . .
MEMPHIS RED SAUCE
Memphis BBQ sauce is tomato based, but focuses more on vinegar. In Smoque Shack's case, they used what I'm assuming is red wine vinegar. A unique take, but for me this really soured the sauce and thus, soured my liking to this flavour.
OK not actually a sauce but for dipping, this worked well as a sauce. This was not a creamy sauce but very runny. Ranch was good, and the chopped up dill pickle made for a great dill flavour. I love dill.
The hot sauce was, well I think we might have had a mix up. It was like a Thai sweet chili sauce. It was sticky and had chilis and as LJ said "tasted like sweet potato." But on the menu is also a Sweet Chili sauce. So my guess it was a little mix up. Good sauce though, but very sweet.
Ok the above picture is not of a wing but a rib tip. I didn't take a photo of wings with the Pirri Pirri sauce, sorry. This sauce . . . this was a crazy hot sauce. It was creamy, and you take some and you are all "well this is good, but it's not very ho . . . ." and then it kicks in and burns the mouth. Then it lingers. And it stays and it burns. You want to eat more because it is good, but it's very very hot. I loved it. So did LJ.
FINAL SCORE: LJ really enjoyed the jerk pork and the sauces. The rib tips were crispy. Sides not bad. The wings were ok. Probably not worth getting again, but I would love to keep sampling this menu. And thumbs up for the Dill-Ranch and the Pirri Pirri. 5/10
The Smoque Shack
129 York Street, Ottawa ON