The Boston area has thankfully been getting more barbecue options over the last few years, and on Saturday, June 25, The Smoke Shop joins the fray, officially opening its doors in the former Tommy Doyle's space at One Kendall Square in Cambridge. Chef/owner Andy Husbands (Tremont 647, Sister Sorel) is no stranger to barbecue; he's been obsessing over it for the last two decades.
"I'm a student of history, and I love that aspect of barbecue," Husbands previously told Eater, explaining the importance of knowing the history and understanding the regional differences. He and cookbook author Chris Hart started their competitive IQUE BBQ team in 1997, traveling to competitions (and surprising Southerners with a big win at the 2009 Jack Daniels World BBQ Championships, among other accolades).
One advantage of coming from up North is that the team has never felt "bound by the traditions of a specific region," as Hart previously told Eater, allowing experimentation with a variety of styles. That's evident in Husbands' wide-ranging menu at The Smoke Shop, too — he doesn't shy away from playing with multiple styles and even influences from outside of the traditional barbecue spectrum. There's a brisket dish, for example, served with a Korean vinaigrette, kimchi, and gochujang ranch, not to mention a smoked and fried chicken with Thai flavors, mint, and fermented pepper mayo.
- Andy Husbands prepares to slice up a half rack of ribs at The Smoke Shop. Photos by Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater.
- Ribs, rib rub, and The Smoke Shop's sauces.
- The open kitchen looks out into the dining room.
- Husbands pours sauce on the ribs.
- Brisket and slaw.
- Cocktails, including a rhubarb shrub julep (far left) and a frozen coffee-and-bourbon drink (second from left).
But purists will also find simple combos — choose a meat (pulled pork, burnt ends, a half rack of ribs, etc.) and two sides (cornbread with honey sea salt butter, bacon collards, and more). And there are traditionally prepared sandwiches featuring pulled pork, brisket, and other meats.
Here's a look at the debut menu, which includes a few vegetarian options and seafood entrees amidst all the meat:
On the drink side, there's a huge selection of whiskey, as well as cocktails like the Bourbon Arnold Palmer, The Skinny Dennis (a frozen drink with coffee, espresso, brandy, milk, and bourbon), and a rhubarb shrub julep.
The Smoke Shop spans several rooms — diners enter into the bar area, which is surrounded with floor-to-ceiling windows, letting in tons of sunlight. There are some high-top tables along the windows as well. A small room with televisions, a banquette, and some more high-tops connects the bar to the main dining room, which looks into the open kitchen.There's seating for 150 overall, including 40 on a seasonal patio and 40 at the bar.
The Smoke Shop debuts for dinner on Saturday, June 25, with weekday lunch launching next week and brunch starting on July 2. Stay tuned for live music as well, which will eventually take place every Thursday through Sunday.