Our Gourmet: Get there before the 'meat leaves the building'July 10. 2018 8:15PM
Smokehaus Barbecue278 Route 101, Amherst
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (or until they run out of barbecue); closed Monday.
Cuisine: American Southern barbecue
Pricing: Sandwiches/salads, $7.99-$10.99; sides, $2.99-$7.99; plates, $6.99-$27.99
Handicapped access: No seamless entry, but ramp/porch/doorway available.
The timeless adage of eating — “Get it while it’s hot” — changes to “Get it while it’s there” at the bustling new Smokehaus barbecue in Amherst.
The hours listed are appended on the menu (in bold-faced type) with the warning, “or until we are out of BBQ.”
That proved true last month when we showed up at 5:30 p.m. on a Sunday and a sign on the door read, “The meat has left the building.”
But our loss that day was our guests’ gain a couple of weeks later when we showed up at 1:30 on a Sunday — and everything was smoking. We carted away three bags of delicious hand-crafted barbecued meat and fixings for the two of us and five guests spending a summer afternoon on our back deck.
With leftovers for at least two lunches, our Smokehaus order fed the seven of us without us having to turn on the oven (a summertime no-no). There is nowhere else all of us could have eaten so well for less than $80.
Even in the middle of the afternoon, the Smokehaus was rocking. Nineteen cars were in the parking lot or on the grounds of this snappy little eatery established in 2017 at the intersection of Horace Greeley Road and Route 101 (seven miles west of the intersection of routes 114/101/293 in Bedford.)
The dining room was nearly full, the porch tables were full, several people were waiting for take out and several more were eating outside under umbrellas.
Service was terrific. A bustling, young staff was cooking, serving, cleaning tables, working the register and locating patrons outside when take-out orders were ready.
In a barbecue smokehouse, air conditioners are put to the ultimate test on a hot day, but the Smokehaus’s inside dining area was cool. If you aren’t cool enough, one of the eight cold beers on tap can help you out. There are plates, sandwiches and sides to satisfy any BBQ craving.
Smokehaus meats are worth talking about. They are, indeed, thoroughly cooked, smoked, hand-cut, rubbed, and served — but only slightly sauced, and that’s a good thing. The signature BuffaQ Sauce is a spicy little number that livens things up, and there is a mild and a spicy sauce served on the side, both properly smoky.
For kids, there are hush puppies, mac n’ cheese and creamed corn. Kids’ sandwiches (brisket, pulled chicken of pork) are $5.99, or they have chicken tenders with a side kids’ dish for the same price.
We picked a little of everything from the menu and spread it out on the picnic table for everyone.
The almost overwhelming top choice was the beef brisket, which we ordered as the add-on to a Garden Salad ($8.99). Had we known how tasty, juicy and delicious it was, we would have ordered at least a half-pound. The choice on the brisket was fatty or lean, so we asked for some of each. We could not decide which was tastier. It was perfectly cooked with four long, thin slices draped across the salad.
The brisket was served like all of the meat we ordered — unadorned (and unburdened) with unnecessary sauce. Many barbecue eateries slather their meat with sauce before, during and after cooking, which we think is overdoing it. Smokehaus puts plenty of flavorful sauce on its meat before it is cooked, but when it is finished smoking, customers can add barbecue sauce to their taste.
What we found was meat that delivered its natural flavor, allowing the sauce to enhance the presentation, not hide it.
The brisket was fine as it was — we meat lovers hardly added any of the sauce that came with dinner. It was juicy throughout and was our meal’s standout taste. But there was plenty more that were a close second.
The Pulled Chicken Sandwich ($7.99) fed two, and was served sans-sauce on a warmed bulkie roll with a pickle on the side. A great sandwich this was. In addition, the half-pound of Pulled Chicken ($6.99) we ordered was added to salads or eaten straight from the plate with a bit of sauce here and there. It is truly pulled chicken, not shredded with a fork. This method of serving allows patrons to enjoy the actual chicken flavor.
A full slab of Baby Backs ($25.99) was meant to share all around, and we did that with a few ribs left over. Good-sized, meaty ribs with one bone each, little fat, and the rack carefully cut into three large slabs. The rub was visible on the rib meat and tasty as all get-out.
We said the brisket was the best, but some at our table will dispute that in favor of the Hog Wings, ($10.99 for three portions of pork legs, on the bone) which were slightly crispy on the outside and full of pork flavor on the inside. None of us had ever had hog legs before, but we’re here to tell you they are top-notch.
Side orders at our table included Cole Slaw ($4.99 per pint), Hush Puppies (deep-fried cornbread chunks, six for $2.99) and Baked Beans ($4.99 per 16 ounces). All were very good. We enjoyed the moist and well-prepared, tasty slaw; beans smothered in sauce with shredded meat mixed in; and crispy, tasty cornbread.
If you like well-prepared barbecue, you cannot go wrong at Smokehaus — unless you get there too late and the meat has left the building. You can call ahead to see if there’s still some left, but they don’t take reservations or phone orders, so like the sauce, it’s up to you.