Smokehouse 52 BBQ
Saline: 105 W Michigan Ave | 734-316-7913
Chelsea: 125 S Main St | 734-562-2565
Sunday-Thursday: 11:30am – 9pm
Friday, Saturday: 11:30am – 10pm
The Short Course
1. Kid-friendly: Yes.
2. To avoid wait: For parties of 5+, call for reservations.
3. Noise level: Low.
4. Bathroom amenities: Changing table.
5. High chairs? Yes.
6. Got milk? Yes.
7. Kids’ menu? Yes.
8. Anything healthy for kids? Yes.
9. Food allergy concerns? Gluten-free menu and separate fryers available. All food fried in canola oil, not peanut oil.
Smokehouse 52 owner and pitmaster Phil Tolliver, who grew up on a hog farm in Stockbridge, MI., studied alongside Southern champion pitmasters to learn the rich, historical craft of smoking meat. If that doesn’t get you moving toward the door, maybe the array of salads, seafood entrees, burgers, wings, nachos and quesadillas, as well as a dedicated kids’ menu (that includes such favorites as a Pulled Pork Sandwich, Grilled Cheese, Chicken and Waffles, Ribs, Popcorn Chicken, and Mac & Cheese) will.
The interior of Saline’s Smokehouse 52 delivered a strong Americana vibe with dark woods and soft lighting. The dining area is large with a variety of well-spaced seating options – tables, booths, high-tops, and a bar. Bonus tip: snap some fun photos of the little ones grabbing mints out of the alligator mouth at the reception desk!
Family-style ‘meat’ing place
We started with an order of the frickles (fried pickles). Our 5-year old loved the light breading over the sweet and tangy pickle spears. Just make sure to let them cool because these were packing some temperature-heat! Our kids ordered the Mac & Cheese and the Popcorn Chicken from the kids’ menu, but in reality they were just as happy picking from “The Enthusiast”.
This combination plate is perfectly designed for sharing among families with pulled pork, brisket, smoked chicken, and ribs as well as two well-portioned sides and (Chelsea’s own) Jiffy mix cornbread. We chose the homemade smoked sausage and the mac & cheese. Our 5-year could have eaten only those two sides for his next several meals—that would make everything right with the world. The smoked sausage was an adult favorite as well–sweet, juicy and not over-spiced.
None of the meats are pre-sauced so diners have the option to taste each of the five house-made sauces ranging from sweet to spice and mustard- to vinegar-based. Our kids both enjoyed a dab of each on their fingertips to determine where their loyalties lay (an important part of any BBQ journey for the young). We ordered the Southern Fried Chicken Dinner as we needed more of that sweet, honey-drizzled and buttermilk-battered goodness.
We highly recommend either “The Enthusiast” or its counterpart, “The Whole Hog”, which substitutes pork belly and smoked sausage for the chicken and brisket. These both serve 2-3 people and encourage family-style sharing in addition to some ‘hot’ sauce debates. If your kids do not generally eat a whole meal on their own you may want to choose Mac & Cheese as one of your sides! The Collard Greens and Housemade Chips were also standout sides for our family. In fact , ‘Sides sides sides’ was one of the mantras we recited as we finished up this BBQ lunch. On our next visit we will likely skip the Kids’ Menu entirely (gasp!) and just pick from combination plates and a selection of sides.
Same smokehouse flavor
If you still have room after all the delicious BBQ, Smokehouse 52 has a unique dessert menu centered around their famous Smokehouse Sammies (house-made ice cream sandwiches). Unfortunately these treasures fell victim to new restaurant launch syndrome and were unavailable on the day we visited, but we satisfied our sweet teeth with the Five-2 Brownie Sundae; a delectable mix of sweet and salty.
Apart from the Sammies we did not notice another stumble in this new launch. Loyalists will find the same menu and quality they’ve come to expect from Smokehouse 52 in Chelsea and new visitors will find a great addition to the downtown Saline foodscape.