Smoke in your eyes

. March 5, 2013.

Smokehouse Blues
Bar & Grille
4855 Washtenaw Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Phone: 734-434-5554
Fax: 734-434-4969
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am – 10pm
Fri-Sat 11am – 11pm
Sun noon – 10pm

Fats Domino was staring at us, but we were unfazed. Our family of four was relaxing in a booth at Smokehouse Blues, seated by a crackling fire close to where the poster of Fats hung. 

Our booth was in the large dining room apart from the bar area. Posters of blues and jazz legends adorned the walls. The menu was loaded with Southern inspired dishes such as jambalaya, St. Louis style pork ribs, and Texas beef brisket.

I asked our server, Katie, about the origin of Smokehouse Blues, hoping for a real humdinger of a story. Perhaps some Southerner with two names (think
Jim Bob or Carol Jo) set up shop with a dream of bringing Southern cooking to Midwesterners.

It just turns out that a savvy restaurant owner who researched how to cook southern food owns Smokehouse Blues. I would say she did her research pretty

Diggin in My husband and I split the 4 Way BBQ platter with smoked beef brisket, pulled pork, andouille sausage, and St. Louis style ribs. The ribs were wet, slathered with sauce, rather than Memphis dry rub style.

The meats had a subtle smoky flavor from overnight smoking. The pulled pork was tender and tangy — my favorite of the four. At the same time, my husband
 found it a bit too vinegary for his liking. The brisket fell apart with every bite and the andouille sausage had kick.The ribs were good, not great. I prefer
 mine meatier.

On each table rested bottles of sweet, mild, and hot sauce to tweak the barbeque flavor to your liking. “I wonder how hot it is,” commented my husband as he squirted the hot sauce on his plate. “Probably not very,” he scoffed. He tried it. “That’s got a bite to it.” A half-second later, “Wow.” We had sides of Southern greens (mustard and collard), garlic mashed potatoes, and fried okra. Anything fried tastes good to me, including that funky little vegetable okra. My 3-year-old tried one, liked the fried coating, but balked at the green vegetable inside. The greens were wilted and cooked with bacon. Not generally a greens fan, I was surprised at how sweet they tasted. We also had hot rolls with dinner, but our batch seemed a bit chewy, perhaps overcooked.

The Kids’ menu offered standard fare: cheeseburger, chicken tenders, grilled cheese, etc. If your kids long for a taste of the South, they can select a pulled pork or BBQ chicken sandwich. My kids, ages 6 and 3, stuck with the usual: a cheeseburger for my son and chicken tenders for my daughter. Both kids’ meals were served with fries. The kids ate without complaint and gave their meals two thumbs up.

We finished our night with Hot Fudge Brownie Heaven, brownies covered in vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry. We couldn’t finish it all, which might be due to its size or the fact that halfway through eating it my son bent over and licked the whipped cream from the dish we all shared.

As we left, I expected someone to say in a drawl, “Ya’ll come back soon.” No one did, but that may have been the only hint that we weren’t in the South that night.

To avoid wait Go earlier than 7 for dinner
Noise level Moderate to high
Bathroom amenities Basic, with changing table in women’s
High chairs Yes, plus boosters
Got milk Yes
Kids’ menu Yes
Anything healthy for kids This is southern food, folks. It’s not necessarilyknown for its contribution to the health of society!
Food allergy concerns They cook with soybean oil. Consult your server or the manager with specific concerns.