Barbecue and I have history. I’m not a Cincinnati native--I hail from Jackson,TN, and spent the pre Cincinnati years of my youth in Dallas, Texas, and Memphis, TN. Family visits are not complete without a visit to the local Pig N’ Whistle, and my grandparents have very emphatic opinions about dry rub vs. wet style slabs of ribs.
Maybe it’s for that reason I’ve never been enthusiastic about Cincinnati style chili. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it, it’s just not in my DNA like barbecue. You can keep your cheese coney, but do not come between me and my pulled pork sandwich.
Because of this, I knew it wasn’t a case of if we’d be headed up to SmoQ, but when. I first read about the newest addition to Cincinnati’s barbecue restaurant scene at the end of January on Polly’s blog. I bookmarked it for David and told him I’d like to go soon. In the last few weeks, we’ve heard nothing but great things about the restaurant (Julie called it a “trifecta of awesomeness”) and I knew we couldn’t delay any further.
No more waiting. We had to go to SmoQ, I told David. I wanted barbecue, and I wanted it RFN*.
We finally made it on Saturday for lunch with David’s dad, Derek. Knowing that we’d probably leave stuffed, we skipped appetizers and went straight for the entrees. Derek opted for a lighter lunch, ordering the smoQ-house salad, substituting brisket for the pulled pork. ($7.49) The brisket was excellent, smoked and flavorful, sliced against the grain to ensure tenderness.
David and I tried to coordinate our sides and dishes to try the maximum amount of food at SmoQ, but there is still plenty on the menu that we’re interested in, especially the chicken.
I chose the half and half ribs combo, featuring a generous half slab of baby back ribs and St. Louis Ribs ($21.99). For my sides, I picked the sweet potato brulee and baked beans.
St. Louis Style Rib
Sweet potato brulee
David ordered the Uncle Jerry’s shrimp and cheddar grits ($16.99) with macaroni and cheese. Our server recommended the collard greens, so he also got those.
Grits with shrimp, andouille, onion, tomato, bell pepper and garlic in a jalapeño cream sauce
The baby backs had a nice pull to them and a delicious, sticky glaze, though I was partial to the tender St. Louis style ribs and their dry rub. I happily dug into my sweet potato brulee, which was more of a dessert than a side, and my baked beans, which were tangier than I expected and also had a little bit of pulled pork in them. We tried a little cup of the pulled pork as well (also delicious), and I’ll probably get ribs and pulled pork next time.
David liked the collard greens, as well as the macaroni and cheese, though I ended up swiping his and finishing most of it off. I’m a sucker for the crunchy topping and casserole style mac. I don’t think David minded, he was too busy oohing and ahing over his shrimp and grits. Presented beautifully, the stone ground cheddar grits were creamy and delicious. David talked about them all the way home.
Are we going to be back to SmoQ? Heck yes, we will. And soon!
Our server must have been psychic, because she brought out diet pepsi in a carafe for quick refills. Derek goes through diet soda faster than anyone I've ever seen.
*Right freaking now.