The upshot after a recent visit to Sea Smoke BBQ, across the street from Tony’s Market in Oak Bluffs, is simple: Impeccable, classic barbecue.
The fare doesn’t have any bells and whistles; the menu gives various meats and a general size estimate —”Spare Ribs ½ rack $11, rack $22.” No other descriptions, no terms that you have to covertly look up on your phone before ordering.
It’s cafeteria-style, which did make me feel a bit like I should be rushing off to math next period, but it also increased my childlike excitement at having BBQ for the first time in ages. Adding to the fun, your meal is served on a metal tray all together; any sides will be in to-go trays. It’s like plates are outlawed.
I got the half-pound of pulled pork ($11), baby back ribs ($15 for a half-rack), and half a chicken ($14); for sides, baked beans ($3.50), collard greens ($3.50), and cornbread ($6).
Although all were delicious, the ribs were the standout. They practically fell off the bone and were dripping with juice. There was some tension over who got the last one.
The pulled pork had a nice tang to it, and should you have leftovers, would be great in a sandwich for lunch the next day. The chicken had a crackly skin, and was wonderfully tender — also another possibility for a leftover sandwich, should any of the chicken make it out of the restaurant.
The baked beans were stellar; there was a hint of spice, but not so much as to overwhelm the dish. The collard greens were a tasty addition, as it felt as though we were doing something (mostly) healthy. I would consider the cornbread more of a corn cake, as it was sweeter than a traditional cornbread; however, it finished everything off as a nice dessert.
Coming in for dinner felt like a pause from the bustling August craze. The space is casually furnished with gray-tone walls, and booth seating that looks heavy enough to withstand a tornado. The Lumineers were playing, aptly, “Slow It Down.” It felt like a place where hipsters could rub elbows with old-timers, and where people could bring their families.
Sea Smoke is the Island’s newest hidden gem, and is poised to become a favorite of Islanders, summer people, and tourists alike.
Sea Smoke Barbeque is open 5 to 10 pm seven days a week. It is across from Tony’s Market, at 7 Oakland Ave., Oak Bluffs.