BBQ is such a funny term here in Canada. With our short summers in Edmonton, BBQ’ing is one of the first sure signs of impending warm weather. And while I’m not one to split hairs with regards to the definition in Canada, after plenty of time south of the border, I’ve discovered BBQ means an entirely different thing. Here..we grill. There..they barbecue.
Every so often, when the topic of BBQ’d meats comes up, I’m reminded of Smokey Joe’s Hickory Smoke House here in Edmonton. But even with it’s relatively long history in Edmonton, not that many people seem to venture in. In fact, before the recent Edmonton Journal review (here), I’d barely heard a peep from anyone. Of course, this all had to change one day, because, who doesn’t want juicy ribs, and slow cooked brisket dripping down their arms?
Located on Stony Plain Road, just west of 149th street, the store is surprisingly easy to find and sits on the main drag. Walking in to the restaurant, I was faced with an empty room. That’s right, no patrons. Good sign? Bad sign? I guess I’d find out. With my uncertainty creeping in, I asked to scan the menu while I went over the idea of bailing. No Chris, you are here. Man up! The menu was a mix of everyday items (burgers, sandwiches etc.) but I wasn’t here for that. So I looked to the page of BBQ. Beef ribs – check, pork ribs – check, brisket – check, sausage links – check, chicken – check. Whoa. This place looks like it’s trying to cover the entire gamut of southern BBQ.
One many can only eat so much, and while I was tempted to order the platter or 2 ($30), I felt a serious urge for juicy smoked brisket. Making my order, I received my choice of two sides and went with beans and cornbread. It was going to be a few minutes, so I took a seat and absorbed the room. The black and white checkered floor adds an old school touch, while the wooden tables are covered with brown paper for your doodling pleasure. The kitchen is open for the most part, and the computer at the back was occupied by two children running around. I should say, I couldn’t help but notice that all of the family members (including the cook) were eating rice dishes…duh duh duh!
With the sky giving way to the sunshine, I asked for the package t o go. Stepping out into the street, I took a seat and looked into my box. I was watching my meal being put together, so it wasn’t a total surprise; Brisket, beans, cornbread and garlic toast. The toast was standard white bread and grilled on just one side. This was the equivalent of a token side salad. The beans, which were microwaved, included bits of meat and fat, weren’t mushy or sweet. Not bad, but the worst part was the uneven heating. The corn bread, which was also warmed and then slathered in butter, was again a mix. It was an unsweetened version and included whole niblets of corn. I don’t layer my sandwiches with butter, so the mound of butter on top that melted in left me wondering how fresh it truly was.
Now the meat. One larger portion sat atop two smaller pieces. The menu says 8oz’s, and without my trusty baking scale, I can’t say for sure where this portion rang in. Forgetting the utensils, and needing a nice layer of moisturizer, I went at the meat like KFC chicken. The meat was definitely smoked, as you can tell by the nice red ring. It was also cooked (menu says 13 hours) to a nice point, as I could easy shred the meat with my fingers. So far so good right. Unfortunately the meat didn’t match the looks. Taking a bite, I couldn’t help but look for a drink of water. Very dry, and needing some kind of lubricant to make it enjoyable, I was disappointed. Sure there was a small dose of sauce put beside the meat, but I don’t want to taste BBQ sauce. I want nice, slow cooked, juicy beef!
With so many items on the menu, I can’t help but wonder if I ordered the wrong thing…or maybe Smokey Joe’s is making matters worse by trying to offer the whole hog. I do know that dry meat, average corn bread, diner style garlic toast, and microwaved beans just don’t cut it for this guy.