Smoke & Barrel shows no signs of cooling off this summer, with its new menu satisfying all your barbecue dreams. I’m a regular here; it’s one of my favourite restaurants because the food reminds me of home. I love the perfumed, smoky smell rolling out onto Glenealy, and I’m excited every time I go.
The menu is more refined than you’d expect at an American-style BBQ joint, catering to the discerning HK dining crowds. Rather than loads of beer being poured, they’ve got some sophisticated libations such as this refreshing Chef’s gin and tonic ($88), a favourite of co-owner Arron Rhodes. A bestseller that’s been retained since the eatery’s opening day, the gin is infused with butterfly pea, kaffir lime and grapefruit and mixed with cucumber-infused tonic.
Now, let’s get to the food (and I hope you’ll be dining here with someone who has a big appetite or a group that’s ready for a hearty meal). Amongst the new dishes, the smoked bone marrow ($148) is one to try. Served with onion marmalade, mushrooms and thin, crispy sourdough bread, this comforting sharing starter is rich in flavour, despite being a tad too oily for me.
For something even more ribsticking, I recommend ordering the smoked chicken pot pie ($128) to start. The filling contains chicken, veg, cream and truffle paste (the sophisticated HK touch), and just look at that golden puff pastry!
We’ve now come to the best part – the smoked meats from “The Beast” and grill. Here are three must-orders:
The St Louis spare ribs ($208 for ½ order or $368 for full order) are one of my all-time favourites at Smoke & Barrel, consistently stealing the show. The ribs are smoked for two hours before being wrapped in foil, with the process then repeated to enhance the taste and texture. You get all sorts of flavours with these bad boys – sweet, salty, sour, smoky and acidic – cutting through the richness of each bite. The meat just falls off the bone and is irresistible.
You also can’t skip the all-American brisket ($118/110g, $218/200g or $318/300g) or the pastrami ($238/200g), which are both top of the class.
The savoury brisket is seasoned with a simple salt-and-pepper rub and smoked for 10–12 hours.
From the grill, the pastrami is thinly sliced and has a distinctly warm flavour (is that clove that hits the palate?). Brined for seven days and air-dried for another day, it’s then smoked for 10 hours and covered in a yellow mustard slather. Fatty and delicious!
Sides can never been overlooked when it comes to barbecue. To complement this meaty meal, we loved the following:
The fried okra ($68) is a fun dish. Thin okra is perfectly fried and dusted with a mildly spicy seasoning, served with Alabama white sauce, a tangy, creamy sauce similar to ranch that’s also commonly used in coleslaw and potato salad.
The mac and cheese ($88) is a personal fave of mine, and there’s never a time I don’t order it. Mild in flavour, the macaroni is mixed with a creamy mozzarella and British Cheddar sauce and topped with shallot dust.
The corn on the cob ($78) is a summertime winner. Charred perfectly, the corn is sweet at each bite, dressed in black garlic butter and herbed breadcrumbs. Yum!
If you still have room for dessert (trust me – you’ll always have room), the Smoke & S’more ($88) will complete your BBQ experience in decadent bliss. It might look like a dentist’s nightmare, but it’s surprisingly not overly sweet. This creative dessert is made up of charred marshmallow whip atop chocolate ganache infused with bourbon on a graham-cracker-crust base.
Without a doubt, Smoke & Barrel is the best BBQ spot I’ve tried in Hong Kong. Head Chef Chris Tuthill adds a lot of finesse to the traditional craft carried out by old-school pitmasters, showcasing delicious smoked meats, starters and sides using exceptional ingredients.
1/F & 2/F, Wyndham Mansion, 32 Wyndham Street (entrance on Glenealy), Central, 2866 2120, book online
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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