It’s not as if smoky flavours are something new; after all, part of the reason we love those sizzling rashers is because of the intense taste that seems to linger on your tongue. What is new, though, is the range of foods that’s getting the smokehouse treatment – and South Africans are loving it.
James Diack, who brought us Coobs, has witnessed the attraction at his latest venture, The National. He says that novelty is a big factor: since we’re all so used to having our meat roasted or fried, it’s a treat to try something a bit out of the ordinary. He loves the trend, because he says it’s introducing people to cuts they may not otherwise try: pork legs, for instance, and brisket. And diners love it too: the cuts are generally cheaper, and the meat tends to be super juicy and flavoursome.
There’s also the huge influence of homey southern cooking on cuisine at present. Cleveland Thomas’, whose robust meals at Smokin’ Joes Ribshack have gained a number of fans, says it’s the comfort factor at work. Maybe that’s why smoked dishes aren’t really meals: they often morph into linger-longer occasions that make up in heartiness what they lack in elegance.
Not sure where to get your bit of smoked heaven? Try these outlets:
Fork’s counterpart is a tribute to the slow-movin’ Mississippi – with a dash of New York sophistication thrown in. The ribs are the main attraction here; served with coleslaw for an authentic down home touch.
What started out as a humble food truck has turned into a full blown eatery. Try the brisket, made all the more mouthwatering thanks to lashings of signature BBQ sauce.
Mr Browns BBQ and Smoked Food
Two words: pulled pork. Try it with cheese or bacon chilli jam or peppadews, and wash it down with a gourmet shake. The burgers are great, too.
The Smokehouse and Grill
Arguably one of the pioneers of the trend in SA, it’s not just the ribs and steaks that have regulars talking. The Smokehouse’s peanut butter ice cream – homemade and moreishly creamy – is justifiably famous in its own right.
A spin on Mediterranean classics (think smoky gyro and souvlaki) has gained this Rivonia institute a horde of fans, who also rave about the signature vaflaki (mini waffles).
Smokin’ Joes Ribshack
Cleveland Thomas’ American twang is testimony to the authenticity of this backyard eatery. Complement your ribs with sides like sweet potato fries and collard greens, and you’ll feel like you’re in the heart of Louisiana.
Coobs is famous for fresh from the farm ingredients, and The National is no different. What makes this Parktown North establishment stand out is the way smoky flavours have been woven into more traditional dishes to create flavours as fresh as they are complex.
Where do you get your smoky food fix? Let us know in the comments section below.