Name: Smoke Modern Barbeque
Address: 16710 Birkdale Commons, Pkwy #103, Huntersville, North Carolina 28078
Order: Two meat Smokin Q Combo (pork and brisket) with slaw and soda (link to menu)
For a state with a, shall we say, lacking barbecue tradition, Colorado at least kinda seems to know what its doing when it comes to barbecue chains. First, Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que expanded into the Charlotte area with its Matthews location a few years back and now Smoke Modern Barbeque has opened a restaurant in Huntersville. Another one is planned in the Ballantyne area of south Charlotte this summer, taking over for the old City Tavern at Stonecrest.
Smoke is nice inside. Like, probably too nice looking. The servers are dressed in all black and the decor is all modern, straight lines (hence the “modern” in the name, I assume). Based on that description, this has to be too nice of a place to actually serve decent barbecue, right?
Well, after my two meat combo I’d say yea, that’s more or less the case. The small-ish serving of coarsely pulled pork had minimal bark and was not all that smokey. Mrs. Monk’s pork sandwich had several huge strands of pork (as well as some unwanted grizzle) that made it tough for her to chrew at times. I will say, at least the bun was a nice substantial potato bun that held up under the weight of the sandwich and slaw. My recommendation to Smoke would be to utilize cleavers to chop up the pork a little more before serving.
The brisket was a little better, if not stellar. It was a bit more thinly sliced than I like but it did have a nice peppery bark, reminiscent of a central Texas-style brisket. My portion came with a mix of lean and fatty, and I would recommend it if you found yourself there. In fact, if I were to go again (likely at the south Charlotte location to try it out once it opens), I’d probably get the brisket but would also try the jalapeno beef sausage which is actually imported from Kiolbassa Meats in San Antonio.
For a nearly $17 combo, its a bit disappointing that you only get one side but I guess that’s to be expected from upscale, yuppie ‘cue. The cider slaw was fine, but I found it odd that Smoke didn’t have any cornmeal options. Neither cornbread nor hush puppies were anywhere to be seen on the menu.
Smoke seems to emphasize their house made sauces available at each table, with our waiter taking us through a “tour of the sauces” since it was our first time there. They had a red vinegar sauce that wasn’t really Lexington style, a thicker sauce recommended for brisket, an even thicker KC Masterpiece-style sauce, and finally a “Georgia Gold” mustard-based sauce. How they came up with that name is a mystery – if Georgia has a mustard sauce tradition that’s news to me.
You might be tempted to check out Smoke Modern Barbecue on a date night because of its modern decor and upscale-iness, however I just can’t recommend it due to its high prices and small portions, not to mention the barbecue itself is a little lacking. Plus, they spell barbecue with a “q” so they obviously can’t be trusted.