The Smoke Shop BBQ deputed its flashy standalone outpost at Assembly Row over the weekend, showering Somerville in smoked meats, cornbread, and a whole lot of whiskey. The third edition of chef and pitmaster Andy Husbands’s barbecue restaurant features barn-like high ceilings, prominently displayed awards from barbecue competitions, and an overwhelming smell of cooked brisket.
The first Smoke Shop opened in Cambridge’s Kendall Square in June 2016, while the second took over the old Tavern Road space at 343 Congress St. in Boston, debuting in November 2017. At its core, Smoke Shop Assembly remains the same as the other two locations, despite some additions to the food and drink menus.
Guests will be able to tuck into a new rotisserie barbecue chicken (all-natural and humanely raised, like the rest of Smoke Shop’s meats), along with a dish of pork belly burnt ends and pickled peaches and a bar snack of barbecue spiced peanuts. As for drinks, there’s a frozen Alabama slammer made with Southern Comfort and a frosé sangria.
“Otherwise, we’re going to do what we’re really good at,” Husbands said, including brisket, slabs of ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, cornmeal battered catfish, fried chicken, and of course, sides: Texas toast, cornbread, mac and cheese, and bacon collard greens.
There are even options for non-meat eaters, including a chicharron-style fried tofu served with a vegetable salad. Additionally, many items at the Smoke Shop are gluten-free.
“Often people are looking at what’s new, but it’s really what’s good,” he said. “That’s what’s great about going to a barbecue restaurant — we all know why you’re here.”
If it’s not for the barbecue, it might be for the whiskey. According to Husbands, the restaurant boasts New England’s biggest collection of American whiskey, stacked four shelves high behind the bar.
The building that houses the Smoke Shop at 325 Assembly Rw. sits on the south side of the complex with no adjoining businesses, just a Caffe Nero across a courtyard. While the first two editions of Husbands’s barbecue restaurant had previous tenants, this space is brand new.
“Here we got a blank slate,” Husbands said. “A standalone blank slate is rare in the Boston area.”
He worked with Sousa Design Architects out of Brookline, as he did for the previous locations, and those familiar with the Smoke Shop restaurants in Cambridge and Fort Point will recognize a few design elements, including the cut-out knife wall, the extensive wood working, and the stone accents.
With high, angled ceilings at the front and back of the restaurant and a giant wooden American flag spanning the ceiling between the two areas, the place embodies Husbands’s description of it as “city Q,” or industrial yet “barney.”
Somerville’s Smoke Shop seats 240 people total, with 30 seats at the bar, 120 in the main dining room, and 30 in a convertible private dining area. There will also be 40 seats on a front patio and 20 in the rear of the building. The new Assembly Row restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week, with the kitchen open until 11 p.m.
• The Smoke Shop Coverage on Eater [EBOS]