Saturday, May 31, 2008

Good Barbeque is a Wonderful Thing Indeed

We were running errands today in Alpharetta, so the husband and I decided to drop by Smokejack for lunch. I'd seen a recent review in the AJC and I've wanted to try it since. This is definitely a place I'll go back to. The decor was clean and simple. The service was friendly and attentive. The food was very good.

We started with an appetizer of pimento cheese served with grilled flat bread, saltine crackers and celery sticks. Pimento cheese, or "Pumenah" cheese to pronounce it correctly, is a southern delicacy I never encountered, much less heard of, before I moved to Georgia. Before then, my only experience with pimentos was picking them out the nightmare inducing Oscar Meyer pimento olive loaf my mom bought at the grocery store in Salt Lake City. The idea of mixing those vile things with sharp cheddar cheese and actually eating it completely baffled me.

For those of you that live outside the American South, pimento cheese is this wonderful spread made from freshly grated cheddar cheese, smoky pimentos, and mayo. Sometimes cream is added, or onions, or hot sauce. There's as many versions as there are southern cooks. Smokejack's pimento cheese is rich with finely grated cheese, large chunks of pimento and cream cheese. It melts beautifly across the warm flat bread and pairs well with the salty crackers.

My husband order the beef brisket platter with collards and mashed potatoes. The collards were perfect. Soft, without being mushy and laced with a delicate smoky flavor. His brisket was tender and smoky, if a bit overly sauced. I'm of the opinion that the meat ought to stand on its own, without being smothered in sauce. The sauce was excellent though. It was a good balance between tangy and sweet.

I ordered a pulled pork sandwich with tomatoes and cucumbers on the side. My sandwich came with a Carolina style mustard based sauce in the side. Again, the meat, while tender, didn't have enough flavor to stand on its own. However, the mustard sauce more than made up for that. My tomatoes and cucumbers were delicious. This is one of my all time favorite salads. Just chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and onions in a mix of vinegar and olive oil. I believe there was a touch of balsamic in the dressing, along with the more traditional white or red wine. It was very tasty and I could have eaten a mixing bowl of it.

It doesn't compare to my all time favorite BBQ joint, The Swallow at the Hollow, but I think it's miles above any of the chains around here. If I'm over in the part of town again, or just in the mood for something different, we'll go back.

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