Only since starting the blog has Sheffield come onto my radar as somewhere to go out for a decent feed. Even though my best mate lives there, I didn’t really know much about their food scene until I started reading other bloggers reviews. So when I was invited to visit a new restaurant called Smoke Barbecue in Sheffield city centre, I was quite excited. The owner Sean Gregory was so inspired after watching Man v Food, he hopped on a plane to Texas and hasn’t looked back since, opening Smoke Barbecue in December 2013. They say they specialise in authentic BBQ pit meats using a unique smoke for cooking.
From what I’d researched, Sheffield has been waiting a long time for a restaurant like this and well here it is in all its glory. Smoke Barbecue is found beneath the striking, but aptly named ‘Cheesegrater’ car park on Charles Street in the heart of Sheffield city centre. I was a little worried on the way there that I’d have trouble finding the place, but luckily the old sat nav did the trick! We stepped out of the car park to find the restaurant with its signage showing us the way. Tempting smells wafted over, giving us a hit of smokiness which immediately caught us in our stride and drew us in.
Smoke Barbecue initially opened its doors in December with a soft launch, with the aim of gradually honing their craft over the last month or so. I was intrigued by this venture as living in Leeds, the last year or so has seen a major increase in the American barbecue scene, especially with the likes of Reds True Barbecue amongst others making such an massive impact.
On entering the building we found it to be a pretty sizeable space, there’s an open plan industrial/warehouse feel with metal ducting, bare concrete and exposed brick walls on show. There was a strange mix of furniture, with some diners eating at proper dining tables, while others were sat at tables made out of pretend pallets. I’m all for being a little quirky, but I found it a little bit odd.
We were greeted by a lovely lady who seated us at a booth. It did take a number of minutes for us to get served though, and as the restaurant had been informed that one of us was gluten intolerant, our server seemed to have no idea what this was, when I mentioned it!! This is where inconsistencies started to show up, for example I could see diners being given popcorn while they looked at their menus, but neither we, or some others tables received any.
On perusal of their menu it’s definitely for the carnivore, very protein heavy with only a small selection of options for non-meat eaters.
We were told by our server we’d be given a Smoke Sharer Plate to sample between us, which costs £30. Included in the plate were beef brisket, pulled pork, turkey leg, links sausage, baby back ribs, chips and a side of our choice, I also selected the smokey pit beans to accompany this feast. All sounded great on paper, if not a little meat heavy. We also ordered two glasses of wine which arrived strangely in glass tumblers, is this what they do in Texas?
The food did take a little while to arrive, and on first glance I think I was a little scared by the massive turkey leg so we decided to leave it till last. The food was also served warm, part from the sides which was disappointing.
From this sample there were definitely positive and negatives. In terms of the meat the best bit on our plate was the brisket, which had a lovely smokey flavour and was well cooked leaving it juicy and moist. It worked well with the accompanying sauce. The Texas link sausages were meaty and had a nice smokey flavour to them, nicely charred from the grill. The sides were excellent! Our chips were great – a good size, crisp and fluffy, the smokey pit beans were exactly that, they had an amazing smokey sauce, very delicious. I’d love those beans on a big slice of toast. These were the best bits.
The pulled pork was a real disappointment and it didn’t really do it for me. The meat itself was quite bland compared to pulled pork I’ve had from other places. The turkey leg was something I’d would never normally choose, as I’m not a fan anyway, but we both found it dry and sadly lacking flavour. The baby back ribs were small in size as you’d expect and even though the sticky sauce that had been brushed on them was nice, the ribs themselves were just ok.
In terms of service we were seated so we could see the bar as well as the kitchen, after a month of opening I felt the service was friendly but could be a more efficient. There were times when sharer plates were ready on the pass at the same time, but there was no one to take them. The staff did seem happy to get receive feedback and were very pleasant during the evening though. Service is a bug bear with me, but as Smoke Barbecue is still in its infancy I’m sure the team will endeavour to iron out these niggles.
Their slogan is ‘Put the fork down, it’s time to get dirty!’ which we happily did, but then when wiping your hands after eating lots of food covered in sauce, a napkin doesn’t really do the trick sufficiently. A supply of moist hand wipes to clean up the mess would have been ideal.
If I’m completely honest I would say that the food here is definitely a work in progress, more consistency in quality of flavour is required. This is where the phrase ‘quality not quantity’ rings true, more thought and attention to detail to get the meat really juicy, moist and full of flavour across the whole menu is needed here. More choice is needed too, especially for non-meat eaters.
Food: Carnivore friendly, food hit and miss, more consistency needed in terms of flavour and temperature!! Lacks choice for non-meat eater.
Service: Friendly but need to improve efficiency and consistency.
Atmosphere: It was a busy evening so the place did have a buzz about it.
Value for money: We were invited, so our meal was complimentary, but we felt the plate was quite expensive for the quality of the food.
1 St Pauls Place