Summertime and the BBQ is cookin'
I love barbecue. Something about taking a tough piece of meat, adding heat and spice thereby transforming it into a moist, succulent inside with chewy caramelized exterior - it's food magic at it's finest. It's tough finding good BBQ at a restaurant in this city - everyone seems to love City BBQ. I used to love them when they only had the one store. Now, every time I've had their meat, it's been dry - and to my mind that is a cardinal sin. It's part of what happens when people get too ambitious and decide that they have to own an empire. I guess I am the type of person who would rather do one thing well than a dozen things badly...
So this past weekend I found someone who likes doing barbecue well. I almost don't want to tell you - I wanna keep all the goodness for me and mine. But being the generous soul that I am (and, as the hubby points out, I can never keep my mouth shut) I am going to tell you about Smackies.
Recently relocated to the old Jimmy Dean restaurant building in the Columbus Square Plaza, I had passed them by a couple of times on my way to Mi Mi's. (In fact, they are very close neighbors.)
After my experiences with other Columbus barbecue places, I wasn't really going to get worked up. But damn - it sure smelled good. Plus - I saw the sign out front that said they had a "Southern" buffet on the weekends. I figured that was a pretty good place to start. I like Southern food. It makes ya fat and sassy. And I need all the sass I can get.
After a morning in my garden (which is doing well, thank you for asking), Tony asked if I wanted to go out for lunch. I said yup and he suggested we try Smackies. Unfortunately, we got there about 45 minutes too early for the buffet. Fortunately, the waitress was really sweet. She got us seated and brought us some sweet tea. It was good tea and my hubby was happy. During our wait, we watched the kitchen staff bring out various equipment and prepared foods. It looked good. It smelled good. Damn I was hungry. So the time came - the staff lowered the brisket and pulled pork into the steam table and BAM! we were off to the races.
On the buffet that day was homemade coleslaw, green beans, biscuits and gravy, scalloped potatoes (also homemade), mac and cheese (homemade as well), brisket, pulled pork, greens, fried okra, stewed tomatoes, chicken wings, fried chicken, waffles, peach cobbler, apple cake, plus lots of white bread. Gotta have white bread with barbecue.
First the sides: Loved the slaw. It was creamy with a little bit of a vinegar bite - the cabbage was still crispy. Awesome stuff. Scalloped potatoes - nice and creamy, potatoes done correctly. They had a little cheese in them, but not enough to make them compete with the mac and cheese. Speaking of the mac and cheese - creamy,mild and cheesy. The noodles were just the right constancy - not mushy, not hard.
OK - just to show I am being fair, there were some things I didn't like about some of the side dishes. The greens - while tasty - weren't cut up at all. Same with the stewed tomatoes. Tasted great - pain in the butt to get out of the serving trays and onto your plate. The biscuits were only OK - they were over mixed and didn't rise very well. My mother, the biscuit queen, would have been very upset. The peach cobbler had too much cinnamon in it - you couldn't taste the fruit at all. And lastly - the green beans were bland. I would say right out of a can and doctored up some.
Of course those are minor things... the real star was the pulled pork and brisket - along with the sauces that adorn them. The meats were moist and the burnt ends were mixed in for those of us who covet such treats. There is a bucket with three tomato based sauces brought to the table - Molasses & Cayenne, Whiskey & Hickory Smoke and Brown Sugar & Molasses. I was assured that all the sauces are made in-house. I liked the Molasses & Cayenne the best - it was sweet, tart and had a bite to it. The other two were a little too sweet for my taste, but I have a feeling most people would like those better. The hubby ate his BBQ without any sauce. That is a sign the meat was done right.
So my first impression of Smackies was - "Damn that stuff is good!" I can't wait to go back and try some of the dry ribs, which are not on the buffet. I haven't seen dry ribs in Columbus before. For those of you who don't know what dry ribs are: The are cooked with a dry rub, moistened with mop sauce during cooking and then finished with more of the rub seasoning before serving. The BBQ sauce is provided at the table for those who want it. Me - I like my "Cue" without sauce most of the time.
So get on over to Smackies then. I say try the buffet - see if you like it - then come back for more...lots more...
(Smackies is located at 5730 Cleveland Ave, Columbus, Ohio 43231 Phone 614-794-1600)