The Smoke Haus
One of the newest and largest of Bristol’s meat joints, The Smoke Haus takes pride of place on the ground floor of Colston Tower in the heart of the city. Spread across two floors, it’s a stylish enough venue decked out with a mix of rock’n’roll memorabilia and affected street graffiti. It’s an American-style BBQ experience, but there are vegetarian and vegan options too. The menu covers lunch and dinner, with BBQ classics like chicken wings and ribs alongside nachos, hot dogs, smokey-bean chilli and pulled pork burritos.
Classic rock plays out on the radio (with the odd blip), and we enjoyed chowing down to classics by AC/DC, Creedence Clearwater Revival and others. Service is unfailingly friendly, and the staff (although obviously new to the game, perhaps because the place has only just opened) are chatty and welcoming. We had the pleasure of being looked after by no fewer than three waiting staff during our visit. While each was perfectly lovely, I couldn’t help thinking one staff member would have done just fine.
On the beer front, I was very pleased to see The Smoke Haus have approached the Tenby Brewing Company to create a fresh new beer for their menu. The Smoke Haus IPA is a delight; an American-style IPA with a fine balance of malts and hops. I can’t stand it when contemporary craft brewers over-hop their beers — leaving them generic, bitter and samey. With its nicely rounded flavour The Smoke Haus IPA hit the spot, so hats off to the Tenby Brewing Company for that.
With processed cheese and over-done meat, my burger couldn’t follow it up. The smoky flavours the menu had promised me were nowhere to be found, and the coleslaw was on the gloopy side. Nachos were drowning under a heavy layer of melted cheese which did little for the palate, and although the skin-on fries were fine, this was not the meal I had promised my rumbling belly.
We doubled up on a vanilla sundae for dessert, but when it came it was just a little lacklustre. Balls of vanilla ice cream in a glass, topped off with whipped cream. I don’t profess to be an ice-cream sundae expert , but I can tell a good sundae from a poor one. With no sauce, no cherry and no joie de vivre to speak of at all, that, dear reader, was a poor one.
So in short, I’m torn. I quite liked the décor and the music was great. Service with a smile, and tasty beer. Perhaps The Smoke Haus waiting teams need time to bed-in? Maybe the chefs need a crash-course in meat preparation, US-style?
With venues like Three Brothers, The Burger Joint and The Hobgoblin, plus other chain restaurants like Atomic Burger and Meat Liquor, competition is fierce in Bristol and any pretender moving in on the turf had better know their chops. At the moment it feels like The Smoke Haus falls short on the food front, but these are very early days.