Taking A Bite Out Of The Lone Star
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
There are just some culinary cravings that need to be satisfied as soon as they set in, like good old Texas barbecue with the whole works: ribs, steaks, brisket, cornbread, coleslaw, and beans. When a hankering for these delicious dishes from the Lone Star State takes over, the Village Smokehouse in quaint Brookline Village is a great local spot to grab a little slice of Texas and a big slab of barbecued meat.
The Village Smokehouse, which opened its doors in 1987, is located just a short walk from the Brookline Village T stop off the D-line. The restaurant takes pride in offering southern hospitality in an authentic, open barbecue pit, amidst a historic New England suburb.
The eatery exudes a casual and family-friendly atmosphere, with an unspoken dress code that warns against white attire—a dangerous color to wear while attacking sauce-covered ribs. Patrons enter immediately into a bar area, which includes a television and distinctly American country music. Not surprisingly, the decor fits the classic, almost stereotypical, Wild West theme, but not in an over-the-top or tacky way. The wait staff is friendly, evidently trying to play up some Southern charm. Waitresses sport black t-shirts with phrases printed on the back like “I wish Coke was still Cola, and a joint was a bad place to be,” demonstrating the sense of humor and light-heartedness that characterizes the Texas-themed restaurant.
The dining area is fairly small and is separated from the bar by the open barbecue pit, where diners can watch the grill masters in action. On a Thursday night, there was merely a short wait for a table to be cleared, but plans to dine on a weekend night may require a reservation. If dining with only one or two others, be prepared to share a table (actually, three small tables pushed together) with another party in close proximity at the other end—the seating arrangements aren’t entirely private. Each table comes equipped with a roll of paper towels, which is a good sign for the eager carnivore.
Rather than the usual dinner rolls brought to the table pre-meal, a basket of cornbread and butter is available to snack on while perusing the menu and deciding on appetizers and entrees. Homemade Texas chili with cheese, giant onion rings, homemade “Tater” skins, and fried buffalo shrimp are top picks for appetizers, but sharing is definitely encouraged given the portion size of the second course options.
The Village Smokehouse offers burgers and sandwiches, grilled salmon, steaks, and fajitas as entrees, but focus should be placed on the barbecue section of the menu, since that is what the establishment is best known for. Diners can choose from baby back pork ribs, beef ribs, sliced brisket, BBQ chicken, Texas sausage, grilled shrimp, and Southwestern chicken. Hungry diners can upgrade ribs to “Texas size,” signifying one extra rib. All meats are slowly hickory smoked and barbecued on the open pit, and can be ordered with sauce on the side, light sauce, or extra sauce.
The beef ribs are massive and evenly glazed with a sauce that is a perfect blend of sweet, tangy, and smoky flavors. The most well-done parts of the meat have the taste of the grill cooked into them, which, when slathered in sauce, is textbook Texas barbecue. Barbecue entrees include the cornbread that was served before the meal, beans, and a side order. The coleslaw is fresh and light on mayo, and the sweet potato fries pair nicely with the meat. Sides are smaller than expected at a place that serves Texas-sized meals, however. It came as a surprise when the waitress brought over a small cup of beans and said that it was to be shared “family style” amongst the party of two. The Smokehouse does offer dessert, but it is unlikely that there will be any room for any.