The SmoQue Shack brings barbeque to the Byward Market
The SmoQue Shack, which recently opened on York Street, specializes in barbeque that’s slow smoked over Quebec maple charcoal. The menu is pretty meat-centric and features a range of cuts of pork, chicken and beef. While there are a good variety of offerings in the meat department, vegetarians may appreciate the smoked barbeque tofu, which sounds like an appealing vegetarian alternative.
The majority of the mains here aren’t served with sides, save for a small white bread bun. The sides can be ordered à la carte, with prices ranging from $2.50 for a small piece of cornbread to $10 for a portion of fried pickles sized for sharing.
My date and I started off the meal with a couple of pints of Kichesippi beer, which is brewed locally here in Ottawa. The Natural Blonde is a pale ale with a bitter finish, while the brewery’s dark ale, called 1855, has an aroma of molasses that makes the beer ideal for pairing with sticky sweet barbeque sauces.
The baby back ribs we’d ordered were slathered with a chipotle honey barbeque sauce. Initially I thought the sauce was too sweet, but it grew on me over the course of the meal, especially when contrasted with some of the spicier dishes on the menu. The Jamaican jerk pork was intensely spicy; its juicy meat was cut into large cubes that included a substantial layer of fat. This dish is killer hot and definitely needs some sort of carbs on the side to dull the heat.
The Tennessee barbeque chicken was pleasantly moist and slathered with a well-balanced sauce. The brisket was easily my favourite of the spread. Each mouthful of this smoked beef was a treat. The coffee barbeque sauce caramelized perfectly over the sumptuously tender bits of meat. It’s a must order.
The sides were similarly good. Both the baked beans and the southern style greens turned out to be spiked with pork and a generous dash of heat. These spicy options are best paired with milder mains. I wasn’t crazy about the cornbread, which was both too small and too tough for my liking.
If you can spare room for dessert, you’ll want to try Pascale’s chocolate chili bacon ice cream. Its silky texture and sweet and salty flavours make this unusual combination a winner. The double chocolate cookie served on the side was another matter. It tasted and looked like the dregs leftover at the end of a charity bake sale. This recipe needs a do-over, stat.
Despite a few minor misses with the menu, I’ll be back to the SmoQue Shack soon for some more of their fantastic barbeque. I look forward to sampling the North Carolina-style pulled pork on my next visit.
The SmoQue Shack
129 York St.
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