Bishkek restaurant review: Smokie’s Bar-B-Q

Smokie's Bar-B-Q

You walk in and find yourself thousands of miles out West, diners enjoying enormous-looking ribs, good music, friendly atmosphere. A bar in the middle of the room, I take a table.

The menu has all sorts of things I’ve never tried, like pulled pork, or quesadillas. I opt for hush puppies and ribs, because I hear the latter is a speciality at the place. Hush puppies turn out to be pieces of tasty fried cornbread that you can dip with sauces. A good start; I move from tea to beer.

While gazing at a curious bar stool that appears to be some form of saddle, what is less a dish and more an event arrives, a platter bearing a serving of meat large enough you might mistake it for a car door. I dive in.

Being English, the DNA ensures I look tremendously awkward while eating with fingers, but tonight, good grief, I don’t care: it tastes that great. This is meat in excelsis, the Rolls-Royce of carnivorous experiences, and cutlery would be a disservice.

It’s a revelation, and I ask how this is made. Apparently, a special Southern-style dry rub is used, and the ribs are slow cooked for a minimum of six hours using oak wood on the fire to smoke it. The meat from a local Australian butcher.

Barely able to move, mildly alarmed at the pair of bones which are all that remain on the plate, I sit back and see for the first time three bottles of sauce beside me that had been brought unnoticed while gorging myself. Next time.

Glancing around, it’s a moderately busy weeknight, but the kind of establishment you can have a quiet dinner, or have a friendly conversation with whoever’s around; I left sensing it’s a little piece of home for a lot of people, and they love and respect Smokie’s Bar-B-Q for it.

The food comes to 597 som plus beer. Smokie’s Bar-B-Q is open 24 hours, and they do catering, take-aways, party reservations, with VIP rooms downstairs.

Location: Donetskaya / Jukeeva Pudovkina

First published in The Times of Central Asia, in January, 2013 

About James Willsher

Newspaper and magazine reporter since 2004, has freelanced in Russia and Central Asia, and does local government PR. Likes green tea and interviewing people / places. Phil Garrett was a pen name. @JGWillsher
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