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Review Tue Nov 20 2007

Sweet Ending at Smoque

My fiancée and I took the South Shore train home to visit our parents in the ‘burbs this weekend, and we got lucky: my Mom and Dad are Food Network junkies, and they decided to drive our car-free butts back to the city so they could get a taste of Smoque, recently featured on TV’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

Not only did we get a ride, but we were invited to lunch. Our timing was excellent: we arrived at Smoque at 11:40 a.m., just ahead of the Sunday brunch rush. Since my Mom served up her classic pot roast the night before, and I’m not a huge red meat eater, I chose the half-chicken platter. It’s not featured prominently on the menu – Smoque’s brisket, pulled pork and ribs take center stage – but it should be. The dark meat fell off the bone, yet the white meat was still moist and delicious. The barbecue sauce that came with the chicken was a good balance of vinegar, sugar and spice. It’s worth noting that it’s thicker and more tomatoey than the sauce served with the brisket.

Speaking of the brisket, I tried a bite of my fiancee’s – and another bite off my Dad’s plate, just to be sure – and it almost made me wish I hadn’t eaten my Mom’s pot roast the night before (sorry, Mom.) Brisket is a cut of meat that shines when slow-cooked, and they’ve obviously got it down to a science at Smoque. The meat was perfectly seasoned and so juicy and tender that it fell limp at the end of my fork. The thinner, vinegary barbecue sauce that comes with the brisket is fine, but purists won’t need it.

The only item we ordered that didn’t rise above all other barbecue joints I’ve tried – including, I’m sad to say, our mainstay Fat Willy’s – were the baby back ribs, which my Mom ordered. We all agreed they weren’t as tender as they could have been. In fact, when I took my sample bite (thank goodness I come from a family of plate swappers!), the guy who looked to be in charge of the room came over to our table and asked, “Are those a little tough? I’m going to go check on those.”

He came back to check on us later in the meal, and my Mom mentioned she’d seen the place on Food Network. “You and about a million others people,” he said with a wry grin. Indeed, by that time, the line was out the door.

I fear I’ve gone on too long, but I can’t neglect the sides – and neither should you. All platters come with two sides and slaw. Between the four of us, we sampled the baked beans, cornbread, mac ’n cheese, fries and peach cobbler. The beans were sweet, tender, and in keeping with the theme, smoky, with what seemed to be bits of Vidalia onion and a hint of cumin. I liked the smokiness, my Mom could have done without it, but we all agreed they were cooked to the perfect consistency. The mac ’n cheese was creamy, cheesy, and topped with crispy, buttery, golden bread crumbs – everything mac ‘n cheese should be and nothing it shouldn’t (such as gluey, starchy, oily or al dente.) Same goes for the fries, which came skins-on in a paper bag.

The peach cobbler was so good, it deserves its own paragraph – nay, perhaps its own spot in heaven. Bite-sized pieces of peach bathed in a cinnamony-sweet nectar formed the base, and a generous proportion of the world’s crispest, most buttery cobbler crust topped it off. The only thing that would make this dessert any better would be the option of vanilla ice cream. As it stands, I already know what I’m ordering next time: the half-chicken with two sides of peach cobbler.

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Kelly Mahoney / November 20, 2007 9:32 PM

Sounds great. I'm going back to the 'burbs this week too and I will so enjoy having the Food Network. I don't have a TV in my current set up but I need a fix of Rachael Ray and Top Chef.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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