Smoke and Barrel

My husband and I had been to Smoke and Barrel for drinks before, so we sort of knew what we were getting into. We were actually attempting to go to Federalist Pig, but the hosts there informed us that they were out of almost everything. The real-life costs of procrastination. So Smoke and Barrel would have to be our next-best choice.

There were about fifteen open tables when we walked in, so that should have been our first clue. Then we waited a solid ten minutes for anyone to show up to take our order. I wasn’t planning to drink but the draft list is so amazing, owing to their ownership by the same group as Meridian and Brookland Pints, so I had two tasters of sour beers and my husband got a chipotle-mezcal stout. Not knowing when we might see a member of their waitstaff again, and also practically dying from starvation, we also put in our dinner order.

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The beer choices didn’t disappoint. I have to give props to a place that stocks so many interesting drafts. Things were looking up.

Then we waited a long time. The restaurant was still no more than 1/3 full. Barbecue is pre-made. Does not compute. I rationed by taster-pours of beer while my stomach spoke to me in increasingly louder and angrier tones.

This was the BBQ Sampler platter that finally arrived:

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So, to start with a positive here, this was a really good quantity of food for a reasonable $22. We had no problem splitting this between two people and probably even overate. The mac and cheese was addictively good, and the coleslaw was not super mayo-y, if a little under-seasoned. Their house sauces were both okay, and although the spicy one wasn’t spicy, the regular sauce was not too sweet, so it balanced out. We had all our meats with the dry rub only and it was really flavorful.

HOWEVER. This is not a mac and cheese restaurant. This is a BBQ restaurant. So where do I even begin with this? The chicken wings were actually pretty good, with a nice crisp layer of skin. But the pulled pork was particularly dry and the brisket was definitely not falling apart. It was knives-only for us. Most disappointing were the ribs, which we had to literally saw apart. This is never okay. To drive the point home, my husband actually put sauce on his brisket. If that man so much as touches the sauce bottle, you’ve got a problem.

We re-read my previous BBQ restaurant posts while we were waiting for the check and feel confident in declaring Smoke and Barrel Worst BBQ in DC (so far). Even BBQ Bus was better, just ridiculously overpriced. Will continue to update as more information emerges.

Price: $20 per person.

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