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Smokey Bones (chain)

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    Smokey Bones (chain)

    Smokey Bones Bar & Fire grill chain- Grand Rapids, MI.

    There are many of these restaurants t/o the eastern and southern USA, and chanis are typically the worst for good BBQ, but it was a multi-famiy dinner outing so here's my review.

    To start out, the menu boasts that their smokers run day & night, being "hand-fed 18" hickory logs night and day." The ribs are "slow smoked 4 hrs" the pulled pork I think said 8 hrs, and the brisket says "slow smoked 14 hrs." The brisket is also labeled "Texas-style brisket- new recipe, available after 4pm only".

    We got there about 4:30.

    I decided to order the rib and brisket combo, w/o very high expectations. My wife ordered the pulled pork nachos. So I figured I'd be able to rate the top three main BBQ meats.

    The brisket was delicious roast beef. On the plate as you see, it had a smoke ring which was sort of promising, but zero bark to speak of.

    It had sauce drizzled on it which I HATE. I want to taste the meat, not your liquid-smoke sauce (typical restaurant BBQ).

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    The smoke flavor was absent. This was surprising to me since they advertise a 14 hr hickory log smoke. Something is untrue- either the 14 hr or the hickory logs or both.
    The meat was VERY tender though, almost too tender. It had no pull. I could shred it. Great for some smoked beef, NOT great for good brisket. Also the slices I was served were 25% fat cap.

    My Brisket rating: 4 out of 9. Poor. Mostly lack of flavor and too mushy and fatty.

    Moving on to the pulled pork. (No pics). Granted this was on nachos and not a stand-alone helping on a plate, so perhaps they serve up the leftover pork this way. Regardless, it was terrible. The pork was dry & tasteless, tan shreds of meat. There was ZERO, and I mean zero, smoke flavor. It was like it had been microwave cooked. I have had better results from my mom's crock pot, and my mom has no clue how to make pulled pork.

    My Pulled Pork rating: 3 out of 9. Bad. (I'd rate it a 2 but it wasn't unfit to eat, it was just laughably bad).

    Moving on to the ribs. By far the best of the three. Not a large slab by any means, minimal meat on the bones. By comparison it was tasty and there was actually some smoke flavor, albeit not much. Not enough to convince me of their '4hr, 18" hickory logs slow smoke' on their menus.

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    I ordered the Memphis Dry Rub, which is how I prefer ribs, but they still had sauce on it which I HATE! Isn't that what dry rub means? The rub was ok. I could tell it contained salt & sugar of course, and perhaps a little chili powder or cumin, but trace amounts. The salt was predominant, almost too much. But at least these had flavor unlike the other two meats.

    The bark was thin, but present. There was a slight smoke ring too.

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    They pulled cleanly off the bone, texture was good. Not too mushy not too tough. I could definitely eat a whole rack of these, and considering how tiny they were (I'm guessing they would've been a 1.75lb full rack) I could probably have eaten 2 racks. If I had eaten these at a friend's house I'd have told him he did a good job. Were they world class smoked ribs? No way.

    My St. Louis Dry Rub ribs rating: 7 out of 9, above average. Mostly for perfect texture. Flavor I'd give a 6 out of 9, average. Slightly too salty and being sauced when I ordered dry rub. All things considered, rating would get a 6 from me, average. By comparison to the other meats they were great. KCBS rules dictate you do not compare, so as a stand alone they get a 6.

    I am not easy to impress. I'm especially hard on my own BBQ and I think we all are. If I'm paying you and your food is average or under I will not be back.

    However, as a meal out with the family, the food was really good if that makes sense. The sides were good and everyone else was happy. This is what chain restaurants rely on- family's saying "this was good". But for real BBQ- pass on this place. Don't believe their hype and their hickory log slow smoke baloney.

    Go to a hole in the wall joint for REAL BBQ.

    You could copy paste this review in the North Carolina section for a place called Sticky Fingers. It's so bad I really wonder how they stay in business.


      David Parrish I really think these places rely on atmosphere & decor to give the impression of authenticity more so than real flavor...and beer and friends & family for the "a great time was had by all" effect. Smokey Bones has a very nice atmosphere, I'll give em that. The veggies and garlic bread were GREAT too! Ha ha!


      • Guy
        Guy commented
        Editing a comment
        Huskee, you know some folks only rate food by price and how much is served. They have no clue about good taste and hardly know how to cook themselves. I know this because my area is full of them. This is how the chains stay in business.

      • Huskee
        Huskee commented
        Editing a comment
        Totally agree Guy

      #1 and I rarely go out to eat, and this would not even be a choice. I think the 1 down the interstate from us closed down who knows when. I wonder why??


        Chain stores are always dependent on local management. Our Smokey Bones (Wilkes-Barre PA) is rather decent. The brisket isn't too good, but the ribs, pulled pork, and chicken are all acceptable, as are the sides.


        • Guy
          Guy commented
          Editing a comment
          True that Mosca. Management does make a difference.

        • Guy
          Guy commented
          Editing a comment
          Huskee, I am the same way about sauce. This was a problem at the Smokin at the Square that I went to yesterday. They either already had sauce on the samples or tried to put it on. I had to ask for a sample without sauce.

        • Huskee
          Huskee commented
          Editing a comment
          Guy Sauce can be a crutch people use to make up for something, but it can also be 'part of the recipe', and to give them a fair shot I always ask for it on the side so I can taste it w/ and w/o. You gotta wonder about those at cookoffs who insist it be covered in sauce.


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