Tucked away in a unassuming strip mall lies a BBQ joint that is putting out some AMAZING food. It goes by the name of Smoke, and you know what they say about smoke right? Where there’s smoke there’s……(fire). BUT in this case, where there’s Smoke there’s the Unmanly Chef stuffing his face with their amazing food! Smoke is headed up by the two gents in the picture above and they’ve created an establishment that prides itself on quality ingredients and an even better end product. Smoke replaces what used to be the location of the Corn Beef Factory in the Cranbrook Shopping Center. Corn Beef Factory met a sad fate that comes too often for restaurants, ownership changed hands and the food quality quickly diminished. In its stead though, like a phoenix, Smoke has literally risen and become an even better place to eat than CBF ever was. The decor is sort of a post-modern industrial butcher chic that is clean but appealing, the music can be a little meh, but who am I to judge? I’m a food guy.
When you walk into Smoke there is a counter and a few tables to sit, I usually visit during my lunch hour so it’s not always packed when I go, you order from the counter and they bring your food out to you. The prices can be a tad high, it’s about $10 to $14 per sandwich depending on what you order, meanwhile sides run from $4 to $10 (for wings) despite these seemingly higher than usual prices the quality is so good that it’s so worth it. You shouldn’t look at Smoke with the viewpoint of it being a cheap lunch counter place, think of it more in the realm of a high-end eatery that just happens to be a counter place. (The best of both worlds in my opinion).
I started with the pork belly which could also be deemed a meal quite honestly, the pork belly is excellent bringing just enough heat from the Korean style bbq sauce, meanwhile the pickled veggies help balance the heat/sweet with a crispy pungent flair that is both satisfying and refreshing. I would be remiss though if I didn’t mention the true star of the show, which is their righteous mac & cheese. The mac & cheese is aged sharp cheddar, mild cheddar, and smoked gouda as a mac & cheese afficianado I typically don’t like aged cheeses in it, why? Because they tend to not melt as well as a younger cheese would, the guys at Smoke must’ve conjured up some sort of voodoo magic because it’s soooo good. In fact I put it on my sandwich since there’s nothing better than mac and cheese on a sandwich.
If sandwiches aren’t your thing, or you want to come for a real meal they offer meatloaf, 1/2 & quarter chickens, pulled pork/beef & chicken combos, along with something called a “phat bastard” which is wings, meatloaf, bacon wrapped dates, AND fried green tomatoes. I suggest you start with the sandwiches if you’re coming for lunch because they are enormous and are super filling. The sandwich to get is the boss dawg, which contains pulled pork, bacon, crispy onions, cheddar, and slaw. You might get the meat sweats after you eat it, but the savory combo of pulled pork and bacon work wonders together. Meanwhile, the crispy onions and cheddar are the perfect compliments to a sandwich that is one part Guy Fieri with it’s garish accoutrements and two parts modern cuisine with the delicious additions of crispy onions, bacon, and (mac and cheese if you’re feeling risky!).
Basically Smoke is a home run and it has immediately vaulted to one of my top lunch spots for work. Parking is a breeze as you’re in a empty strip mall and there’s a bakery next door if you need some tasty desserts to tide you over until your next meal. Smoke combines high end cuisine with a lunch counter vibe and I couldn’t be happier with the results.
Overall Grade: A
Smoke can be found at 574 Cranbrook Road, Cockeysville, MD 21030