I love BBQ.
It's one of my favorite food groups.
So when I heard that the Smoke Joint was opening in the LaFu* I was ECSTATIC.
But I was also a little wary.
BBQ is one of those simple foods in concept but very difficult in execution. There has been a lot of BBQ places that have opened up, mostly in the city, and very few have managed to do it right.
Luckily, the Smoke Joint does it right.
(*I will continue to call the area around Lafayette and Fulton LaFu until it sticks. I'm stubborn, even a little stupid, like that.)
The inside of the Smoke Joint is very sparse in decor. Just a few wooden tables and some lights and a view of the very open kitchen where you can easily spot Craig and Ben busily preparing the food. I really like that as it's like built in entertainment - and they are both extremely friendly and willing to talk to the customers. I thought that was a nice touch and definitely made it feel like a "neighborhood" place.
The Smoke Joint's dining system is cafeteria style. You look at what's on the board, you place your order and you sit down. No waiter/waitress service here but there were a couple of runners to bring the food to your table as well as assisting the diners with anything they needed like sauces, more napkins, etc. They even have plastic utensils instead of real silverware.
All this is more than okay with me.
BBQ is not fancy dining.
It's messy dining and this was set up for you to get down and dirty.
And boy did I get down and dirty.
The meal started off with what I thought was going to be a small tasting plate. Just something to tie me over as I waited for the rest of my party. It consisted of (Freedom) Fries shaken with jointrub ($2), Brooklyn Wings ($7) and Tips and Bits ($7).
The jointrub on the fries gave it a nice spicy-ish flavor making it like "a BBQ potato chip, only better" as one diner commented.
The Tips and Bits were amazing. One of my favorites of the night.
The Brooklyn Wing were plentiful, I think I got 7 or 8 in my order, and flavorful but not very spicy. A quick dip into one of the hot BBQ sauces, Hollapeno or Hotbanero - I'm not sure which, took care of that little problem.
The above alone could have been a meal as it was quite a bit of food for the price.
But I'm here for BBQ and BBQ means Meat and by Meat I mean RIBS.
So I got a half slab of the Spare Rack ($10) along with the Corn on the Cob ($2).
The ribs are of the dry rubbed variety and cooked to perfection. There's a selection of BBQ sauces you can choose from, Ben was nice enough to bring our table a tasting of all of them for us to try, and I have to say that my favorites were the Jointsmoke and the Brown Sugar-Chile. While the hot BBQ sauces were good my personal preferences is towards the sweeter flavored sauces.
I tried some of the Baby (Got) Backs ($9) and I have to say I thought the Baby's were slightly better. A little smaller, a little leaner but a little more tender in my opinion. It's really close and neither one will disappoint but if I had to go with one over the other I'd get the Baby (Got) Backs.
At this point I was about to explode so some of the other meals on the table - the Brisket, the Hacked and Stacked Chicken sammich, the Hacked and Stacked Pork sammich along with the Mac and Cheese and coleslaw - I didn't get a chance to try but there's always next time.
And, oh yes, there will be a next time.
And since everything can't be positive...my complaints are that the napkins are kind of flimsy, you'd need like a hundred to get through a meal, and I would like a few wet naps afterwards.
And maybe a bib as I happened to get BBQ sauce all over my shirt.
The Smoke Joint 87 South Elliott Place Brooklyn, NY 11217 718-797-1011 www.thesmokejoint.blogspot.com