WITH a new American-style restaurant seemingly opening every other week in our area, there’s a plethora of choice if you fancy something meaty for your dinner.
And it was with meat in mind that Oliver decided to head to Smokehouse in Wakefield one Thursday evening.
After viewing the restaurant’s Facebook page and seeing favourable reviews and mouth-watering pictures, we decided to err on the side of caution and reserve a table, but it wasn’t a problem to fit in a late table for two just a few hours before we intended on arriving.
On arrival, we ordered drinks at the bar before taking our seats. The restaurant has recently been refurbished and is bright and fresh, although some of the paintwork is a little rough ahead the edges.
The box panelling on the walls and American beer and whisky bottles adds to the authentic burger-joint feel without being kitsch.
A selection of seven ‘small plates’ were on offer for a starter, as well as a couple of options on the well-stocked specials board. I decided to go for nachos with pulled pork to start. At £6, it wasn’t cheap for a starter, but when it arrived I realised why. ‘Small plate’ it was not. The pulled pork was tasty and succulent, and the chef certainly didn’t scrimp on the guacamole, sour cream and cheese. It wasn’t long before, thinking of my main course to come, I reluctantly offered the plate to my friend to share.
Despite devouring his loaded skins, an offering from the specials board at £3.95, he tucked in, and said it was the best nachos he’d had in years (and he’s had a lot). Rather than large, jacket potato-sized skins, the skins themselves were small and round, each packed with either pulled pork or bacon and topped with cheese. Again, the portion - six new potato-sized skins - was not for the faint hearted, and left my dining partner and I fearing for our waistlines at the main course to come. Although very tasty, one slight improvement might have been a pot of salsa or sour cream just to add that something extra.
We had a short wait - albeit much needed - before our mains arrived. By this time, the restaurant was filling up nicely and we were enjoying the relaxed atmosphere while spying on our fellow diners’ menu choices.
By this time I had happily sunk my first cocktail of choice, a Tea Sling made from gin, tea syrup, cucumber, lemon juice and soda, and we consulted the menu for a second. The cocktail menu is almost as big as the food menu, and just as tasty - with several unusual ingredients, including strawberry jam. Each comes with at least two and a half shots of alcohol, served in the all-too-popular (in Oliver’s opinion) jam jar for £5.95 a piece. Opting to save the jam for breakfast, I went for a rum-based Thyme Machine, which hit the spot, when it arrived a good ten minutes after I ordered it. A bit slow, but the relaxed feel of the restaurant meant we weren’t about to complain about waiting a few minutes. And the wait was soften by the delicious cocktail.
By the time our drinks arrived, so did our mains.
Like many restaurants of the same ilk, Smokehouse offers its own ‘challenge’ burger, but we decided to leave that for braver competitors. With eight meat burgers on offer, there’s plenty of choice, including several that caught eye and will have to wait for future trip. The Holy Cow, a cheese burger topped with beef brisket and swimming in a sea of chips, cheese and gravy, sounded very tempting. Smokehouse is also well-known for its ribs, which are cooked slowly over eight to 12 hours and often sell out by the end of the night.
But it was the rib eye steak (£18.95) that finally caught my eye, which I decided turn into surf and turf with some prawns for an additional £3.50 (admittedly before knowing the hefty portion size of my starter). Served perfectly to my medium-rare liking, with a side order of chips, mushrooms and tomato, the steak really was delicious. The fat and juicy prawns, were cooked garlic butter, and placed on top of the steak, the flavour seeping through, making the meat ever tastier. Sadly there was not enough room for the hearty portions of chips, but had the nachos not already taken up so much stomach space, every inch would have been devoured.
My dining partner struggled to pick up his Full House burger (£15.95), which was packed full of beef brisket, pulled pork and bacon. The flavour-full burger patties, made with chunks of chorizo, were particularly tasty, he said. A side order of fried pickles, although unnecessary, were a tangy accompaniment to all the meat.
Feeling ready to take a nap after such an epic meal, our heads were turned by the arrival of dessert on a table nearby. It was only fair to hear the options. After hearing the description of a brownie, covered in fudge sauce, topped with Malteasers, Crunchie pieces, and other goodies, I felt obliged to try and wasn’t disappointed. My dining partner went for a Bailey’s cheesecake and once again we battled against the huge portions, although admittedly we didn’t have to try too hard - both were divine and quite reasonably priced at £4.95 each, as they were big enough to share.
It’s Oliver’s opinion that the Smokehouse is rather pricey, with three courses, two drinks a piece and coffee coming in at £77.50, but as I have already remarked, there is really no need to go for a starter or dessert. The mains alone are more than capable of getting you pulling at your trouser button for extra space.
The Smokehouse certainly isn’t one for vegetarians, there’s just plain nachos or the Bucket O Rabbit Food, aka vegetable tempura, for starters, and two vegetarian burgers to pick from for mains, but if you’re a carnivore used to the likes of Reds True BBQ then Smokehouse is definitely worth a trip and will not leave you disappointed. Just make sure you wear an elasticated waistband.
Address: 18 Wood Street, Wakefield, WF1 2ED.
Opening times: Monday-Sunday, 12pm-11pm.
Tel: 01924 377004.