The Smoke Joint
87 South Elliott Place
Brooklyn, NY 11217-4803
Last weekend we had our first big snow this winter and Brooklyn was covered in a blanket of white. Jess and I had a wonderful snow day, but by 5 o’clock we were getting cabin fever. We decided to stay local because of the weather and catch a movie at BAM. After a few food options were discussed we decided on BBQ at one of our now favorite local spots, The Smoke Joint.
We had been passing The Smoke Joint for almost a year before we finally decided to go in there. Once we did, we were hooked and have been back many times since then. On this particularly cold and snowy night, the Smoke Joint was just what we needed, and I was happy to see that the same went for others. The place was essentially filled at 7:00PM and we waited at the bar for little more then 10 minutes for a table in the main dining room. At the bar we started with some drinks. Jess had a Six Point Sweet Action (this won!) on draught and I had a bottle of 3 Philosophers. As soon as we took our first sip, the table was ready for us and we were seated. We had been looking at the menu before we got there so we dove right in with our order. I had a half rack of spare ribs, with a side of the corn on the cob. Jess ordered the pulled pork platter with Cole slaw and pickles. We split mac and cheese and French fries. Yes it seems like a lot of food…and maybe it was but we rationalized that it was “for the review.” We suffer for our readership.
A few notes about the atmosphere: The Smoke Joint is a brilliant mix of an upstate restaurant, a long island bar, and a hipster’s paradise. (I made a point to wear flannel and Frye Boots). Unfortunately we dove in looking for hot BBQ and warm coziness. What we found was a slight chill in the temperature and the service. It was chilly enough in the main dining room to warrant me wearing my scarf, and the wait staff seemed slightly annoyed/indifferent to our presence. I shrug this off as a Sunday night shift after a blizzard, but I do work in the visitor services industry and it was noticeable. The crowd was pleasant and talkative, it was not too loud or noisy with music and the staff was quite quick and efficient.
Cold or cruel, The Smoke Joint delivers on quality. I had the half rack of ribs and I can tell you, unless you are sharing there is no need to order the full rack. The meat literally falls off the bone and the rub they use is a perfect addition, not a cover up for bad meat flavor. They do have wonderful house made sweet and hot BBQ sauce at the table if you choose to add. The Pulled Pork has become a house favorite for us, although this time around it was way fatty and Jess had to pick through for the actual meat. The sides never fail. Corn on the cob comes smothered in chipotle butter with scallions and cayenne pepper. The mac and cheese is classic, creamy and baked to perfection in a mini ramekin portion enough for two. The French fries, which are tossed in their signature house rub are crispy, flavorful and pack just enough spice to hold up to the entrees. Creamy Cole slaw and bread and butter pickles full of briny vinegar and spice add layers of complexity to very simple, straight forward fare. We were absolutely stuffed after our meal so we did not order a desert (in fact I don’t think we ever have!)
Many BBQ places can cover up with candied sauces and a cheesy atmosphere. If you are looking for absolutely quality BBQ with unique additions (take note of the catfish, and the crispy shrimp), Smoke Joint is the place to be. You could easily make a meal of the sides (try the baked beans with a full on hunk of pork in it), but I can attest to almost everything on the menu being fantastic. The half chicken, hacked chicken and the pulled pork are true winners. The spare ribs and baby back ribs are favorites as well. They also have an extensive, if not intimidating menu of whiskey, bourbons and scotch. The staff is knowledgeable, and usually very friendly (expect during blizzards), and the prices are pretty reasonable. Come early on a weekend or Friday night, bring friends to share and stay for the wait, its worth every BBQ sauce, finger licking corn on the cob second.