|Meat Smith at Telok Ayer|
Decades after taking a reprieve from the dining scene, Southern American BBQ makes a comeback by way of American smokehouse, Meat Smith.
This 60-seat Telok Ayer newbie is no mass-market chain restaurant but an indie setup by hotelier-restaurateur, Loh Lik Peng, with chef and co-owner of Burnt Ends, David Pynt.
|Interior of Meat Smith|
Set in a shop house just steps away from Amoy Road Food Centre, the low-lit space oozes an industrial-esque, laidback charm that takes inspiration from the working studio of a blacksmith.
The food – headlined by meats smoked with lychee wood and jarrah wood in one of two gigantic stainless steel-clad smokers imported from the United States – by American chef, Andrew Baldus, follows a similarly rustic approach, matched by a well stocked bar with an array of cocktails, craft beers, boubons and wines.
|Crispy pork rinds|
To start, the crispy pork rinds (S$5) were airy and crisp, with just enough coating of cayenne pepper to excite the palate.
|Smoked beef tongue|
Thinly sliced smoked beef tongue (S$13), decorated with crushed peanut, coriander, pickled celery, daikon and dollops of electric-orange tongue-numbing Sichuan aioli, was a massive crowd pleaser, as was the off-menu smoked pastrami with bread crumbs and horseradish with Russian dressing.
From the chalkboard, the day’s special of aburi oyster (S$5 each) was less about the beauty of the raw oyster than what it was topped with, with the warm and heady sauce of Sriracha, wasabi mayo and pickled cucumber masking any hint of brininess from the mollusk.
Lox (S$16), Scottish salmon cured in a salt and sugar, arrived with a riot of pea shoots and folds of mint and mint oil-marinated cucumber basking in a vibrant-green bed of pea and wasabi puree that underwhelmed with a prominent bitter note.
|Meat Smith BBQ Platter|
The star at dinner was the Meat Smith BBQ Platter (S$135, perfect for 3 or 4 if you’re ordering other things to share) – a mixed bag of beef brisket, beef short rib, pork rib and Nashville fried chicken, with sides of slaw, potato salad and rolls served alongside pastrami-flecked butter.
The 2-hour smoked pork ribs finished with a house-made smoky BBQ sauce was slick with fiery, smoky and sweet flavours. But the gigantic chunks of Californian 365 grain-fed brisket and Australian Black Angus beef rib, while fork tender, were not sufficiently suffused with smoke, not did they bear the intense caramelization that one would expect from meats cooked in a heavy duty BBQ. Admittedly diners may defer to the army of sauces (smoked bbq, chipotle bbq and mustard bbq) at the table for some flavour distractions. We had better luck with the cayenne pepper-dusted Nashville fried chicken (half for S$22, full for S$40); careful the spice though, it’s capable of making grown men mist up.
In case you’re still hungry after chowing down on those meats, consider these sides from the chalkboard: warm smoked cauliflower (S$8) with sliced almonds in subtly pungent blue cheese sauce; or ham hock greens, a mish-mesh of kale, mustard green and kalian boiled in pork broth and served with pulled pork. Both have distinctly different profiles – the former a tad heady but delicious nevertheless while the latter was a sea of savoury monotony chalk-a-block with wilted vegetables.
To conclude, we will resist the temptation to compare Meat Smith with its more refined sibling and judge it purely on its merits. It’s a strong concept backed by some of the most serious smokers you’ll ever see. This intention, however, needs to be communicated through its star products, i.e. the smoked meats – each hunk of meat to be infused with just enough smoke such that it envelops the palate, all the time retaining its juiciness.
Considering that this is a smoked meat joint, it’s not a tall order we hope?
167-169 Telok Ayer, Singapore 068 620 | +65-8126 0431|meatsmith.com.sg
© Evelyn Chen 2013
Please note that the reviews published on this blog are sometimes hosted. I am under no obligation to review every restaurant I’ve visited. If I do, the reviews are 100% my own.