We had dinner at Smokey Joe's in Teaneck on Sunday. I had been eager to try this unique kosher experience ever since I heard about the opening.
We got there about 5:30, and found a line of people waiting for tables. We had no reason for complaint, as we didn't have any reservations, and I took the wait as a positive sign that the place was popular. We gave our name, and were told that they would check and give us an idea of how long a wait we would have for a table for two. Luckily for us, there were two benches, and we were able to sit on one, as we waited for our table. It took about 15 - 20 minutes, until we were told that we would have another 20 minutes wait. Since we had already invested the time, we decided to stay. I understand that they can't predict how long someone will take to finish their meal, and I myself don't like to rush either.
As for ambience, this is a family style place a la Dougies. As we waited, we saw several parties arrive, who had made advance reservations. The host apologized, and told them that they would have a 20 - 35 minute wait. Some of these parties were understandably annoyed, and left. I imagine that these types of problems can be worked out after the owner irons out the kinks. I think that a family place like this might be better off not accepting reservations.
After about an hour total, we were finally seated. (Again, no personal complaint, as we had no reservations.)
The food was o.k. but a bit disappointing. We were first served the cornbread, with the onion "jam". I have enjoyed cornbread in the past, but I found this cornbread sickly sweet. The jam was some sort of onion preparation, but had no jam texture, and I didn't find it pariculary tasty.
We ordered the corn soup, which was really good, (the hilight of the meal), and different from any I've ever had before.
For the mains, we ordered one brisket/chicken combo, and one chicken dish.
These were served to us before we were even halfway through our soup. Since we had waited so long to be seated, we didn't bother sending it back, but to say the least, our table for two was pretty crowded, and unwieldy.
I like well seasoned food, but I think that the flavoring on the chicken and brisket should have been more subtle (both the smoked flavor, and the barbeque sauce). Though this is my first experience with this type of food, (I'm no maven), I think that it probably could be done better. The bisket was inconsistent, as some pieces were moist and tender, while some were dried out. The chicken was tender, but though I'm usually a white meat fan, in this case I enjoyed the bottom more. I would suggest ordering the combo, which includes the brisket, and a bottom quarter of chicken, rather than only the half chicken. I can't speak to the other combo choice, which also includes the ribs, as we didn't taste it; but I overheard someone eating the ribs at another table, say that he'd rather have a good London Broil.
Since I assume that the ribs are flavored like the chicken and brisket, I think I would enjoy Dougies ribs more. (I know that those are not smoked.)
Though I wish the owners well, and applaud them for introducing a new taste experience to the kosher market, I wonder whether a place like this can last, once the novelty wears off. The smoke/barbeq flavor, whether on the chicken, brisket or ribs, is the still the same flavor, and I know I would tire of it quickly (especially since it was strong, and not subtle, as I mentioned.)
Of course obviously tastes differ, as you can see by other more positive comments, and this is only one person's opinion. If I heard that the seasoning, sauce, and smoked flavor were altered to be more suble, I might consider trying again.
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