It’s hard not to feel cooler when you are eating at SMOKE. The place reeks of hip. It’s the kind of place James Dean would meet Jay-Z for brunch if the opportunity presented itself. But attitude can only go so far if you ain’t got the goods to back it up. Luckily, as most people know, Tim Byres, owner of SMOKE, dishes up some truly big flavors, matched only by Byre’s apparent love for capitalization.
I’ve spent a good deal of time exploring the biscuit and gravy scene around town. I’ve generally found that a few places can produce an excellent biscuit, but an exemplary and hearty gravy is really where most fall short, often producing a lifeless blend of flour and water which does more to detract from the biscuit than complement it. However, the handmade biscuits with spicy sausage gravy from SMOKE, have managed to remain a frontrunner in my mind’s race for best B&G in the city.
Of course, this classic combination must start off with honorable biscuits, and SMOKE’s version rises to the test. Each little biscuit arrives to your table sliced in half, with its soft and fluffy insides beckoning to meet your lips, and the outer crust remaining slightly crunchy yet still tender. But it’s the gravy that sets these apart. The creamy sausage gravy provides enough richness and spice to kick any biscuit into high gear. It’s the kind of gravy that does not allow for any extra to just go lying around on the plate even after the biscuits are devoured, as you soon find yourself scouring the table for a scrap of toast, meat, or shoe leather to spoon up every last drop. Lastly, the entire dish is laced with a drizzle of smokey, sweet barbecue sauce. Only in Texas, right? And you should thank your lucky stars for it, folks. It’s a dish that transforms the commonplace to the in-your-face, the perfect choice if you can ever convince yourself not to order the heavy-handed blueberry ricotta pancakes.
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