Chilebrown at home

Sunday, March 3, 2013


‘When there’s smoke there’s fire’. Will “Smoke Berkeley BBQ” of Berkeley California light a fire under our taste buds? Pull up a chair, grab a rib and let’s go on a bbq journey. ‘Smoke BBQ’ is small restaurant located on a busy thoroughfare next to a car wash. This is the domain of ‘Le Cordon Bleu’ trained, ‘California Culinary Academy’ graduate Tina Ferugson-Riffe. Tina serves her Texas style barbeque with a gourmet mix of side dishes. She uses organic produce from the local farm Catalan. The bread is from the nearby Acme bakery. We walk into this small establishment and survey the chalkboard of listed menu items. Tina is there to help us with our order.

We were immediately enamored by Tina’s soft spoken enthusiasm for her food. We could sense the pride in our meal to come. You can order sandwiches or meats by the pound. You have a choice of sides and different sauces. I requested the hot bbq sauce. Tina gave me a sample to make sure it was not too hot. I thought this was a nice touch. Her sauce did have a kick but it was no match for this Chilehead. (I do eat chile daily) Our orders were placed and we chose a seat outside to watch the carwash.

Fresh squeezed lemonade was our beverage choice. This was made to order sweet lemonade made from Meyer lemons. It was very refreshing. It was perfect for Ms. Goofy’s pulled pork sandwich. This sandwich hit on all bbq cylinders. It was smoky, tender, great pork flavor and was dressed with a tangy vinegar base sauce all on a tasty Acme roll. This was accompanied by a gooey, oozy, cheesy scoop of macaroni comfort.

Rib Tips

Our friend Dylan ordered a plate of rib tips. Abracadabra and poof the rib tips had disappeared. The only thing I saw was his sparkly clean plate. I have a suspicion that he may have went over to the car wash to make this plate so clean.

My order was a four ounces of ribs and a four ounces of brisket. My plate was running over with some great beans and coleslaw. The brisket was fantastic. It had the right amount of smoke. It was tender and beefy. The cake like corn muffin was a treat. There was a lot of care in these side dishes. The beans tasted of molasses, garlic and had chunks of brisket. The Cole slaw was sweet, slightly crunchy, with tangy vinegar. This was becoming the perfect bbq meal until…………………

The ribs were huge. These ribs still had the tips attached. Usually the rib tips are removed and served separately. They were overcooked to the point of being slightly mushy. There was way too much smoke. The smoke was so powerful it left a bitter taste in your mouth. The delicious house made bbq sauce could not rescue these bones.

We had no room for dessert but knew of Tina’s baking abilities. She has won a Blue Ribbon at the Texas State Fair for her apple pie. We asked for a piece of chocolate pecan pie that had just come out of the oven to take home. Later that night we devoured a decant brownie like, pecan studded piece of heaven. Oh my!

We enjoyed our dinning experience at Smoke BBQ. We definitely will return. We never did try Tina’s signature dish of tea smoked salmon. The food reflected the skill and expertise that Tina used in making her dishes. Except for the ribs we liked everything. The lemonade, side dishes, bbq sauces and of course the meats were outstanding. Smoke is a destination alone for chocolate pecan pie. Maybe next time Ms. Goofy can go next door and wash the Racing Honda while our food is being prepared. Oh man, did I really just say that?

Smoke BBQ
2434 San Pablo Av.
Berkeley, California
510 548-8801


Greg said...

This is the kind of place I like to support. Loving the way the large serving of beans flow off the plate. :)
I'm guessing that you broke out the new cam? Bright and sharp pics.

Three Dogs BBQ said...

Everyone has a bad day Chiliebrown. Maybe the ribs will shine next time... Everything else looks great. Do you think they would mail some pie?

Chilebrown said...

Greg, Thanks for the compliment. These shots were taken with my lumix point & shoot and cropped at home. You can see my new camera shots on the hot sauce review previously.I believe it is a improvement I usually bring the small camera on adventures because of convenience. I did just purchase a Quickpro DVD tutorial. I am jazzed.

Three Dogs BBQ, I would get you a pie and overnight it but it never would make it in one piece to the Post Office.

Chris said...

Made to order lemonade, that is a nice touch too. Do you think the ribs were smoked too long or do you think it was more of a bad smoke involved (burning grease or creosote?)? Otherwise it sounds like a very good place.

Chilebrown said...

Chris, I cannot say for sure, but I would guess these ribs possibly were not wrapped, left in the smoker too long and too much wood. We shall return.

Nick said...

Really a good information.

Anonymous said...

Smoky J's... OK, here's the deal. I like good BBQ. I have my favorites, and I do my own. Everyone has some sense of what they like. That said, there's also a level called competition. The first time I went to Smoky J's, the ribs were on par with last years 1'st place winner at Reno's Nugget Cookoff. There's a lot of places to try BBQ around here, so it took a while to get back to them. The return visit was a disappointment (and that's bee'n nice). To get more info please visit