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Restaurant Review: Smoked on High

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: Smoked on HighAll photos by Lauren Sega.
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It’s gonna be difficult for Smoked on High to live up to all of the online buzz. Although it opened with almost zero hype, fawning fans have testified that the barbecue is out-of-this-world.

And even a hard-core contrarian can admit: the fawning fans are kinda right.

It’s hard not to like the operation from the very get-go. You can smell the smoke down the street, and the walkway to the front entrance is lined with tables — the centerpiece of each is a giant roll of paper towels (the brown tear-off kind you know and love from public restrooms). Guests walk through the establishment to the back of the house to place orders from a team that clearly puts itself into its work.

What’s on the menu? Everything you need at a BBQ place. So start with the Ribs. You can order them in quarter-slab increments ($7); definitely smoked, yet also incredibly velvety and tender. That’s practically an impossible balance to achieve, smoke usually steals the moisture from ribs, but all the elements fall right into place, just as the meat fairly falls from its bones.

Then there’s the Brisket Sandwich ($8). The brisket is carefully hand-sliced while you watch, and it falls into little chunks that are swept up and piled high on the bun. It’s simple, yet the distinctly outdoorsy accent that oozes from the meat provides that savory touch that makes it well worth eating.

In the poultry department, there are Chicken Drummies ($5.50). Usually, “drummies” refers to the little legs that comprise the best part of a hot wings order. Here, they’re full-on smoked drumsticks. Meaty knobs, the two legs are sufficient for a meal when paired with some sides.

About the sauce … sometimes sauce can be the savior of dry, chewy cuts of meat, but everything on the menu that was tested is good without sauce, even the brisket sandwich. It’s worth holding off on any additions, just to appreciate the smoked flavors in their purity.

That said, even a non-sauce person can appreciate the virtues of the house burgundy-brown, traditional sauce. Faintly sweet, faintly tangy, and complex enough to work as a complement for any part of the meat menu. There’s a mustard-based sauce option too. It’s not bad, but you’ll be sorry if you choose it at the expense of the aforementioned traditional option.

Much like the regular menu, the side choices are streamlined too. There are three options: cornbread muffin ($2), coleslaw ($2) and macaroni and cheese ($2). The macaroni is evidently controversial, so approach it knowing that it’s not terribly conventional. Disturbingly pale and non-yellow, it’s definitely not much to look at, flecked with bits of seasoning. That said, the dish delivers full cheese flavor complete with melty trails that follow your fork, and those are some super-appealing qualities.

The cole slaw and cornbread muffin, meanwhile, are not controversial, but they’re also pretty average afterthoughts.

To wash it all down, Smoked on High offers soda pops and a beer selection. You can find it at 755 S. High St. It’s open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., with a proviso: they serve until the food is sold out. Based on conversations with the carving crew, it’s entirely likely last-minute types will find themselves disappointed and hungry.

For more information, visit smokedonhigh.com

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