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Smoque. Restaurant Review

By johnboy 11 February 2013 58

platter

Smoque (Pronounced Smoke) is a relatively new player in the restaurant game. It’s on Petrie Plaza just next to Ted’s Cameras off London Circuit.

They’ve gone to the trouble of making a sexy video which gives a feel for the place:

I had a dinner meeting for three to organise so foolishly thought booking a table a few days beforehand would be a simple affair.

No. Smoque only takes bookings for groups of six or more. Smaller groups must take their chances eating at the bar and hoping a table is available.

Turning up at 6 on Friday night I went through four different staff members, was seated at a table barely large enough to hold the hot sauce bottles, and then offered a decent size table on condition I could be out of the place by 7.30.

Or as they put it on their website:

Smoque welcomes reservations for groups of 6 or more, leaving our tables of less than 6 free for walk-ins. Once the restaurant is full, we take a waiting list and most parties choose to wait at a nearby bar until their table is available.

With orders placed over the counter there’s not a lot of guidance for the quite unusual menu.

To save confusion with ordering the three of us ordered the $79 Hi-Five Platter (pictured above) and washed it down with Budweiser.

They’re serious about wanting you to eat with your hands (yes, half a chicken, with your hands). Fortunately copious amounts of kitchen roll are available.

There are no plates either, just the platter shared. Which is novel, but I’d suggest you all decide in common where to deposit your chewed bones.

For all that it can be jarringly unfamiliar the food is seriously delicious.

It had been described to me as “Dude food” and it seriously delivered.

Three big healthy men did not come close to finishing the platter, but thoroughly enjoyed it.

They do have a big selection of salads for the weirdos, and even a smoked vegetables plate, but who would know?

While we were there it was platters all the way.

Also a word of warning. I’d had their Hot Wings at “Suicidal strength” as take away a few weeks before.

They’re not joking.

The things are delicious going down, will make you feel decidedly odd for hours afterwards, and (to put it delicately) will forcibly remind you of the meal for days to come.

So it’s something very different, it’s relatively cheap, and it’s extremely tasty.

You just have to be ready to do things differently.

For the right group it’s a good night out.


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Smoque. Restaurant Review
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rosscoact 12:04 pm 13 Feb 13

cmdwedge said :

I’ll just copy and paste the email I sent to Smoque after our pretty ordinary dining experience. Never got a reply.

****
Just thought that I’d let you know about my experience at Smoque last week. My wife and I visited at 12:00 on Wednesday, 7th November for lunch. We ordered the $39 plate to share, with a beer each. We’ve eaten quite a bit of American BBQ in the States, and are big fans of the style.

Unfortunately, Smoque didn’t live up to our expectations. Firstly, I was asked by the cashier to wait for my beers whilst he pulled a couple of Millers from the tap. I stood there for about 5 full minutes before giving up and advising him to just send them up when he got the tap working. It just kept pouring nothing but foam. When they finally arrived at our table (after another 5 minutes), they were warm, and very flat. Not his fault, but certainly worth noting.

The $39 plate arrived in good time, and looked pretty good. Unfortunately it was anything but. The pulled pork was tasteless, though it was moist – at least if you dunked it in what I think was apple cider vinegar. Happy to be corrected. The ribs were nothing special, not a lot of flavour. Have had better ribs many times in the States and even a few times at home. The brisket was extremely dry but tasted ok, we had to drown it in sauce to keep it edible. The cornbread was completely dry and inedible – it crumbled to dust, much like a piece of cake that had been left out in the air for a few days, it was stale. The worst part was the mac and cheese. It tasted very little of cheese, and very much of flour. It was way underdone, the mac was chewy and disgusting. There was a little grated cheese stuck on top – but not a crust. And it was an incredibly pale white colour – probably because of the amount of flour in there.

The worst part? Everything on the plate was lukewarm. And we were the second group to get our meals, so I’m not sure why that would be.

My wife did get a piece of berry pie to go – and she really liked it. So it wasn’t all bad.

I hope that things get better at Smoque, there’s real potential there, but unfortunately the potential is not being realised (just yet). We’ll come back one day once things settle down there, you get your recipes and systems just right, etc.
****

Yep, any business can have a bad day but how they handle complaints is the measure I judge them by. Not replying means basically that they couldn’t give a toss about whether customers are happy or unhappy.

I predict closed in six months.

cmdwedge 10:54 am 13 Feb 13

I’ll just copy and paste the email I sent to Smoque after our pretty ordinary dining experience. Never got a reply.

****
Just thought that I’d let you know about my experience at Smoque last week. My wife and I visited at 12:00 on Wednesday, 7th November for lunch. We ordered the $39 plate to share, with a beer each. We’ve eaten quite a bit of American BBQ in the States, and are big fans of the style.

Unfortunately, Smoque didn’t live up to our expectations. Firstly, I was asked by the cashier to wait for my beers whilst he pulled a couple of Millers from the tap. I stood there for about 5 full minutes before giving up and advising him to just send them up when he got the tap working. It just kept pouring nothing but foam. When they finally arrived at our table (after another 5 minutes), they were warm, and very flat. Not his fault, but certainly worth noting.

The $39 plate arrived in good time, and looked pretty good. Unfortunately it was anything but. The pulled pork was tasteless, though it was moist – at least if you dunked it in what I think was apple cider vinegar. Happy to be corrected. The ribs were nothing special, not a lot of flavour. Have had better ribs many times in the States and even a few times at home. The brisket was extremely dry but tasted ok, we had to drown it in sauce to keep it edible. The cornbread was completely dry and inedible – it crumbled to dust, much like a piece of cake that had been left out in the air for a few days, it was stale. The worst part was the mac and cheese. It tasted very little of cheese, and very much of flour. It was way underdone, the mac was chewy and disgusting. There was a little grated cheese stuck on top – but not a crust. And it was an incredibly pale white colour – probably because of the amount of flour in there.

The worst part? Everything on the plate was lukewarm. And we were the second group to get our meals, so I’m not sure why that would be.

My wife did get a piece of berry pie to go – and she really liked it. So it wasn’t all bad.

I hope that things get better at Smoque, there’s real potential there, but unfortunately the potential is not being realised (just yet). We’ll come back one day once things settle down there, you get your recipes and systems just right, etc.
****

TheDancingDjinn 10:04 am 13 Feb 13

ezy10z said :

But seriously, has anyone worked out why the hub cap is blurred out?

Also, it could just be me, but is there no reflection, of what ever or whoever too the photo? The van doesn’t show someone with a camera, or a car where someone could take a picture from. Again i could be wrong, but it doesn’t look like there is anything there.

ezy10z 9:47 am 13 Feb 13

But seriously, has anyone worked out why the hub cap is blurred out?

Ben_Dover 6:56 pm 12 Feb 13

As an American who has lived in the South, I have to say, I loved Smoqued.

That’s the final nail in the coffin as far as I’m concerned…. 😉

Instant Mash 6:48 pm 12 Feb 13

Was considering going here for my birthday, but was kinda put off by the prices.

But DAMN that food looks tasty!

birder 4:52 pm 12 Feb 13

As an American who has lived in the South, I have to say, I loved Smoqued. Was it completely authentic? No. Was it great? Yes. I had the brisket sandwich and it was fantastic. We had the Mexican street corn, which wasn’t particularly southern, but really good as well. The mac & cheese was obviously made with real cheese & butter, and thus a bit too heavy for my tastes – but I could see being served this at a neighbor’s house in, say North Carolina. The only thing we didn’t like about the food was the pumpkin pie – it was completely bland and devoid of any of the spice a pumpkin pie should have. I think our bill was $35 for two people, and we walked away very full and happy. I would absolutely return.

I agree that the service is severely lacking. They didn’t want us to sit at a table because it was reserved for a party coming 1.5 hours later. We sat there anyway. We weren’t sure how to get cutlery. There were no paper towels on our table and we didn’t know where to get them.

On the plus side, our food came out within 5 minutes of ordering, and it was all at a nice, hot temperature.

Overall, I love the place and am more than willing to put up with the silly service issues.

dpm 2:03 pm 12 Feb 13

sandog said :

We go there a bit for work,….

Out of interest, what job requires you to go to a restaurant and eat (in this case, the same place)? I want that job!! Food critic perhaps? 🙂

Ben_Dover 1:44 pm 12 Feb 13

….and washed it down with Budweiser.

Obviously a glutton for punishment…

sandog 1:43 pm 12 Feb 13

We go there a bit for work, I dont find the suicidal wings hot at all, more tangy than anything but I’m pretty used to hot food. If anyone is planning a trip to Melbourne, hit up Mistys diner where you can get your wings with Death Sauce (also available at the butchers in Florey). though as mentioned the ribs are fantastic as is the BBQ chicken.

sirocco 1:18 pm 12 Feb 13

devils_advocate said :

Two things:

1) the relevant market in which the price is being assessed is probably wider than just southern barbeque – it is probably wide enough to include most moderatly priced eateries in the civic area.

2) the economic ‘price’ of a beer can, in the circumstances, be thought of as more than the amount of money you have to hand over. For example, I’d prefer to pay a few dollars more and have my beer served within a reasonable timeframe. Or, the extent to which the beverage can or cannot be purchased together with a complementary product, such as a reasonably-sized quantity of food.

True points. However, the wife and I spent $55 on the fantastic tastin BBQ Trifiecta platter (which filled us up pretty well) and ot two beers. The beers we bought over the bar soon after we sat down and meat in the BBQ Trifecta must have been slow-braising all day because the platter came out within 10mins of ordering. Tasty, well-priced and fast. By these standards you set above I was quite happy with the experience…

Roadrage77 1:15 pm 12 Feb 13

Hooray! Here’s hoping the worst of the tapas bar pandemic behind us.

Skidd Marx 1:11 pm 12 Feb 13

“Table for two? Will that be smoquing or non-smoquing sir?”

People whinging about sloppy burgers need to understand that southern-style cooking involves steaming the patty.

I like the concept of this restaurant concept very much but I think I’ll wait until teething problems cease before I visit.

devils_advocate 11:49 am 12 Feb 13

sirocco said :

thebrownstreak69 said :

I never go to places like this because they are expensive and rather copycat-ish. I’d rather enjoy the real thing (I go to the US every year or so) at sensible prices.

Two things;

“copy-catish”? Where else in Canberra can you get authentic Southern American BBQ?

“expensive”? My wife & I had all we could eat in a platter and a couple of beers and it really didn’t come to much – and in terms of authenticity vs price it was certainly a lot less that the price of two return tickets to Dallas-Fort Worth.

And the beers were Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA – a spectacularly hoppy American IPA @ 7.5% for $8 – a freakin’ bargain when you consider how much other places are charging for a schmiddy of tasteless Pure Blonde.

Two things:

1) the relevant market in which the price is being assessed is probably wider than just southern barbeque – it is probably wide enough to include most moderatly priced eateries in the civic area.

2) the economic ‘price’ of a beer can, in the circumstances, be thought of as more than the amount of money you have to hand over. For example, I’d prefer to pay a few dollars more and have my beer served within a reasonable timeframe. Or, the extent to which the beverage can or cannot be purchased together with a complementary product, such as a reasonably-sized quantity of food.

sirocco 11:27 am 12 Feb 13

thebrownstreak69 said :

I never go to places like this because they are expensive and rather copycat-ish. I’d rather enjoy the real thing (I go to the US every year or so) at sensible prices.

Two things;

“copy-catish”? Where else in Canberra can you get authentic Southern American BBQ?

“expensive”? My wife & I had all we could eat in a platter and a couple of beers and it really didn’t come to much – and in terms of authenticity vs price it was certainly a lot less that the price of two return tickets to Dallas-Fort Worth.

And the beers were Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA – a spectacularly hoppy American IPA @ 7.5% for $8 – a freakin’ bargain when you consider how much other places are charging for a schmiddy of tasteless Pure Blonde.

Genie 11:21 am 12 Feb 13

Smoque has been very hit and miss for me. I’ve only enjoyed one meal out of the half dozen times I’ve been there.

The first time I tried Smoque back in late October we couldn’t get a table on a Sat night so takeaway it was.. We ordered the protein platter and while it was more than enough for 2 of us. It wasn’t one of those meals where you’re eager to go back and have some more.

My second meal at Smoque was for a birthday dinner. Where a dozen of us were squished onto a table barely big enough for 8 people. It was also a stupidly hot December night whee the fans were doing nothing to help with the heat in an overly crowded space. My food came out luke warm and my side of Mac & cheese stone cold (oh it’s served that way was the response) yet others on the table had steaming hot Mac & cheese. Hmmmm. The service was quite slow that night and we had been asked to vacate our table for another booking within minutes of most of us finishing our meal. Left a bad impression

On more than one occasion we tried to have lunch there over the weekend to find them closed. Even though their opening hours specified otherwise.

My most recent trip was for lunch. My partner had the Ultimate burger, although by the time he got half way through it the bread was too soggy and he ate the rest with a fork.

I don’t think I’m at that keen to try them again and give them more money.

The concept works well but they need a larger premise

thebrownstreak69 11:07 am 12 Feb 13

I never go to places like this because they are expensive and rather copycat-ish. I’d rather enjoy the real thing (I go to the US every year or so) at sensible prices.

zorro29 10:49 am 12 Feb 13

devils_advocate said :

I went here for lunch shortly after it opened and was gravely dissappointed.

I expected a fairly hearty meal. I order what appeared to be a main from the a-la-carte menu (pulled pork with corn bread and a side order of fries) – a so-called protein-plate.

Bear in mind, this was to be one of only 7 meals I ate that day, so it wouldn’t have taken much to make me happy.

The serving was tiny. Like, laughably so. I couldn’t believe it.

I had to order a second main – a burger. In total it made my meal exorbitantly priced for something that was only of acceptable quality. Maybe if there had been more of it I wouldn’t have been so disappointed.

Also it was a complete debacle attempted to get served at the bar. We must have been waiting 15 minutes for a beer. It just seemed really difficult for them to organise getting a beer poured. Like, getting the glass was difficult, organising someone to pour it was difficult, and getting someone to accept money in exchange for the beer – each step seemed to elicit a lot of discussion and confused looks, for a transaction that is usually pretty straightforward. I actually felt bad for them for all the revenue they would have foregone from patrons who could have been drinking beer and instead were standing around waiting at the bar. I honestly could have drunk another beer on each occasion I went to stand at the bar.

In case there was any doubt, I won’t be back.

that is EXACTLY my experience…i was just too lazy to type it (i even ordered the same thing you did)…second to this review

also get rid of the street view map – it’s annoying when scrolling down the page

arescarti42 10:46 am 12 Feb 13

I had lunch there last week for lunch and would describe the experience as only OK.

We got a table for two without any issues, the atmosphere inside is kind of noisy and cramped. Our waiter was pleasant, and helpfully explained how ordering worked after we sat down.

I got an “Ultimate burger” and a side of chips, which came out from the kitchen almost immediately.

I was disappointed with the burger, on the menu it has bacon, jalapeno, cheddar cheese and pork, but in reality it is almost entirely pork between two buns. I think I was half way through it before I even saw a hint of bacon or cheese, and I don’t recall tasting or seeing any jalapeno. The other issue with the burger was the pulled pork seemed to be really soggy, to the point where the paper on the bottom of the basket disintegrated and stuck to the burger bun. The whole thing was too wet to pick up and eat like a sandwich, so i used cutlery.

The burger was $20, which was pretty poor value for what I got IMO.

Probably wont be going back.

devils_advocate 10:17 am 12 Feb 13

johnboy said :

There’s a reason we try not to review places immediately after opening.

I’d be interested to know what those reasons are. I’d also be interested to know as what qualifies as “immediately” as opposed to, say, after they’ve had a few weeks to overcome opening-night chaos and bed things down a bit.

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