Smokey Joe’s Restaurant wants you to believe that it’s a barbecue restaurant, a popular clique to be part of in Lexington. The only problem is that Smokey Joe’s is anything but a barbecue restaurant. Driving up I immediately saw that Smokey Joe’s looked more like a late-night diner than a traditional barbecue restaurant. Walking in, the wood paneling, carpeting, and tchotchkes scream living room decor not barbecue eatery.
Smokey Joe’s does offer typical barbecue fare along with homestyle favorites like roast beef, barbecue chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers, and lots of different kinds of vegetables. I was feeling saucy and decided to take my chance on the roast beef with a side of pickled beets and collard greens. Since, this is a barbecue blog, Zach ordered his go-to barbecue meal, 2 chopped bbq sandwiches.
The barbecue was decent enough. I think it says something when you go to a barbecue joint in Lexington and indifference is the only flavor you taste. The fries and hushpuppies were just alright. The roast beef would have been flavorless had it not been for the all the brown gravy slathered on top. The beets were good but the collard greens…
Well, I guess it’s time for me to have a discussion about collard greens. Collards are an acquired taste, there was a time when I couldn’t stand them. They ranked high on “the nasty list” for me, somewhere between boiled cabbage and black-eyed peas. I just couldn’t stand them. But one fateful day I had good collard greens. What makes them good? When you cook them right. There is some boiling involved but you should always remember to infuse flavor in this process. And it’s more than just salt and pepper, it’s all about the right balance of spices and possibly throwing in some piece of a pig that’s been smoked. You don’t always need the smoked pork product, but it definitely helps.
The collards at Smokey Joe’s were not the good kind of collard greens. They just tasted like hot green mush. The greens were over-boiled with absolutely no flavor or spice at all. It’s very unfortunate.
My last gripe, and I promise this one is the last, was the service. I understand that it’s summer time in Lexington, which means all the kids are out of school and working their summer jobs. All around Lexington you see the shining young faces of 15- and 16-year-olds flipping burgers, scooping ice cream, and serving barbecue. We’ve had other commenters on here talk about rude service but this was my first experience in Lexington. Our waitress was obviously working a summer job and it was near closing time but after delivering our food she ran off to lazily stare at the cash register and talk to some of her friends. Our table and a few others were left giving her the “I’m so thirsty” eyes as she easily ignored us with her high school cool. “No more sweet tea for you!”
I can’t say that I’ll ever give Smokey Joe’s a second chance, because now when I try to remember it, all I can think is “blah.”
-Cindia G Leonard