Monday, December 3, 2012
The Strand Smokehouse Throws it Down
On our way back from a friend's visit last night, Dan and I were still a bit hungry and decided to check out the new The Strand Smokehouse. There's been a lot of local chatter about this place, with some mixed reviews, so I naturally wanted to experience it for myself.
I'm happy to report that from the minute we walked in to after we polished off our grub and drinks, it was nothing but down home goodness.
Described in their own words as "urban honkey tonk," the decor is an appropriate cross between modern and country, with lots of wooden picnic tables, high industrial ceilings, and country and bluegrass music piping through the speakers.
There's a large bar to your immediate left, which houses whiskey in barrels, and 16 locally brewed beers, which are said to change seasonally. If you keep walking towards the back of the space, you'll find their food counter, which is just so approachable and easy. All you gotta do is choose your meats and sides from the daily chalkboard menu and voila...you get your hot grub within a matter of seconds. I just loved this approach, as you don't have to wait around as in a traditional restaurant, achieving instant gratification.
Due to all the picnic tables, the Strand feels very much like a beer garden, which is just a great indoor refuge during cold winter months. The communal atmosphere is very conducive to being social, and I encourage you to bring a group of friends with you.
Dan and I hit the food counter and placed our order soon after, choosing a healthy mix of meats and sides. As we got to The Strand on the later side, some of their daily options were already sold out, but despite that we still felt we got a good representation of their offering.
Meats - We couldn't not get the baby back ribs, so we went for a half rack and also a half pound of roast beef. I enjoyed the latter a lot more than the ribs, which looked great, but were a tad dry and really needed a helping of Strand's signature Carolina-style BBQ sauce to spruce it up. The roast beef however, was tender and juicy, and while it still benefited from the bbq sauce and the variety of dry rubs available, it didn't need much to stand out.
Sides - Choosing two really earthy sides of beets and baked beans, we were extremely happy with our decision. The beets especially were perfectly executed with a slightly sweet-tangy finish that cut the richness in the meats. Even though it didn't need much, I had fun putting the dry rubs on top, adding even more complexity and sophistication.
The beans, served at a perfect temperature really shined with their garlicky, starchy broth that made you think of home. It was great to see a mix of white and red beans, which made this sometimes very simple dish a lot more interesting.
Service and Cost:
As I already mentioned, our food was ordered ahead of time, cafeteria style, which we loved. Not having to wait at all, as with traditional table service, it allowed for a quick casual meal, which is nicely enjoyed with just one person but even better I presume with a group.
Costs are moderate but definitely don't break the bank. Our meal and drinks set us back about $40 total.
The Strand Smokehouse - 25-27 Broadway, Astoria 11106
N/Q Train to Broadway