Here’s your Jason fun fact of the week: I’m a certified KCBS BBQ judge. What does that even mean? It means in the summer, I drive hours alone to different cities in Canada and Northeastern United States to eat and judge barbecue. Don’t get this confused with the traveling “ribfest” carnival. A KCBS barbecue competition is an event where professional teams from all over gather for a weekend to meticulously cook chicken, ribs, pork and brisket for prize money and bragging rights. All for a chance to be invited to the Jack Daniels’ World Championship Invitational BBQ competition.
Obviously, my barbecue travels are on ice for the foreseeable future. But I yearn. Local spots (and competition veterans) Blackstrap BBQ and Lattuca BBQ fill the void temporarily. As well as spots like, Icehouse, Paradis BBQ and Rubs that also serve BBQ. Recently I heard about a new barbecue place in Montreal; Smokebox Fumoir & BBQ so I had to checked it out.
I don’t know what’s up with the West Island recently, but they have been stepping up their restaurant game. It’s like they decided to join us in 2021.
I don’t know what’s up with the West Island recently, but they have been stepping up their restaurant game. It’s like they decided to join us in 2021 or something. Welcome! I’m impressed! Smokebox Fumoir & BBQ open in late fall and has been smoking up a storm in DDO. Their menu is pretty straight forward; meats, sandwiches, sides and mac and cheese. Not knowing what to order, I tried a little bit of everything.
Set with a flavourful spice-rubbed bark then slathered or mopped with a sweet homemade ketchup-based barbecue sauce, the ribs at Smokebox are legit.
This is what you want when you eat ribs; bite-through. You should be able to bite through the meat without it sliding off the bone. People like to subscribe to the adage and believe that pork ribs should be “fall off the bone” tender. FYI, if your ribs are pulling clean off the bone; they’re overcooked. Not to say they aren’t delicious, but ribs taste better when there’s texture.
You’d think smoking a chicken would render it dry, but it wasn’t. The meat was tender and juicy. The best thing about a properly smoked chicken is the way the skin becomes paper thin and not fatty. The chicken was served with a sharp homemade salsa verde. It was delicious.
As a heads-up,; the meat will be pink but that doesn’t mean it’s undercooked or raw. That’s typical of meats cooked at low temperatures. The myoglobin doesn’t break down completely and it makes the meat pink. When it breaks down completely, it turns the meat white. You see this as a “smoke ring” on other meats. SCIENCE.
I got a point-cut of the brisket. You can tell by the unrendered deckle fat. It was a bit dry and stringy, but nicely seasoned with salt and pepper with a deep smoke flavour. Brisket has a tendency to dry up quickly after it’s been sliced. I blame transit time from the restaurant all the way home for this, as well as the off-cut (with the grain) for the dryness and texture. But this isn’t going to stop me from ordering it again.
The sides were good. My favourite was the potato salad. Toothsome wedges of potato tossed in a creamy spiced dressing. The coleslaw was nice and refreshing. It’s always a welcomed bite to break up the monotony of the smoky meatiness. Which coincidentally is my stripper name.
Mac and cheese
Smokebox offers plain mac and cheese as well as a barbecue option topped with either chicken, brisket or beef rib. Scoobi-doo pasta mixed with a rich creamy cheese sauce that if you have an existing lactose sensitivity problem, it’ll grab you by the throat and force you to tolerate it.
Scoobi-doo pasta mixed with a rich creamy cheese sauce that if you have an existing lactose sensitivity problem, it’ll grab you by the throat and force you to tolerate it.
This mac and cheese is for professionals only. Those of which posses the ability to breakdown lactose.
I love barbecue. Barbecue is an experience. It’s about the time taken to tend to meat slowly cooking by stoking a natural wood smoke fire. The mix of spices used to accentuate and flavour of different cuts of meat. You can literally taste the patience in this low and slow cooking technique. Smokebox’s barbecue is classic backyard style barbecue. This is good food, cooked by a smoke to be enjoyed without pretense. This is a humble world away from competition style barbecue. Something which I appreciate.
I’m not throwing around my KCBS credentials around to be a dick or snob about barbecue. I’m using it to say that I’ve eaten enough barbecue that my farts should probably be regulated with some emissions sanction and that I’ve had my fair share of bad barbecue to know what’s good and what’s not. The pit-master at Smokebox is doing what he loves and it shows in his food. I have no hesitation on visiting and revisiting again and again.
Should be noted the Smokebox offers beefribs as well.
Smokebox Fumoir & BBQ
4720 Boul Saint-Jean, Montréal, QC H9H 4B2