Smoque BBQ and Bells Porter

I spent a month and a half in Eastern Tennessee this year. I had plenty of BBQ when I was down there. When you think of Tennessee BBQ, you probably think of Memphis style with Tomatoes and Vinegar style sauces.  Tennessee is a long state, and I was about a 6 hour drive from there. The BBQ by me was a mixture of Memphis and North Carolina. Whatever it was, it generally came out of shacks with a smoker next to the shack. It was delicious, but it was the not the best.

The best came when my fiancé was looking through the Check, Please! website for some place to go. Check, Please! is a TV show on the local Chicagoland public TV station WTTW in which 3 local residents pick their favorite restaurant. Then all three – along with the host Alpana Singh – go to the restaurant and critique it in a round-table discussion.

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Quite honestly you don’t think very much of a BBQ in Chicago.  It’s generally tasty, but not outstanding or extraordinary. It is semi-known for sweet sauce and ribs. I’m not the biggest fan. From what I read about Smoque before we went, they were really known for their Texas style dry rub brisket, and that is what I went for. I also got the slaw, the fries, and the baked beans.

First the fries. They were good, but nothing outstanding. Next time I will get the mac and cheese, which from my one-bite sample, was outstanding.

The slaw – which comes with all the plates – was very good. It had an acidic bite to it. Really unlike any of the very sweet slaws I usually get and I never enjoy.

The fork tender Texas style brisket was better than anything I ever had in Tennessee. There was a side of  Carolina sauce that was tangy and delicious and made a great pairing with the dry rubbed brisket. It’s funny. The place is supper busy and small, so we got it to go. On the wall of the restaurant you saw all the notoriety the place had, including a little plaque from Check, Please! Prominently displayed was a big signed picture indicating that Diner Drive-In’s and Dives   featured the place on their show. This is a show where the host, Guy Fieri, drives around the country and find’s the title places. While watching the Real Deal BBQ episode we ate the food, because no TV goes better with food, than food TV.

Now the baked Beans. Quite simply the best baked beans I have ever had in my life. They smelled like you put your head inside the smoker, because as I learned in the Diner’s Drive-In’s and Dives, they are actually put in the smoker. It was delicious and actually reminded me of the New Holland’s Charkoota  Rye Doppelbock.

Unfortunately I did not have any of that particular beer at hand, nor any smoked beer at all. I did have Bell’s Porter, which has a decidedly coffee flavor. More so than the Aloha Brewery’s Pipeline Porter I also have, despite being made with Kona Coffee. I think the problem is that the intense smokiness overpowered even the porter, and I quite honestly can’t see a better partner to the BBQ than a smoked beer. Maybe not one that is so smokey as the Charkoota Rye, but a smoked one nonetheless. The sweetness of the dobblebock would work nicely with the tangi-sweetness of the Carolina sauce. Next time I will be more prepared.

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