SmokeWorks Restaurant- Cambridge

There’s a shortage of good, independent, Smokehouse and BBQ restaurants, so having one on your doorstep is really rather lucky.   I’ve been to both the SmokeWorks in Cambridge over the last year, and while they are not exceptional (though it’s a small field), it’s great to know they are there, and the atmosphere is usually bang on what you are looking for.  A couple of years ago they got into the top 10 BBQ restaurants in Britain according to the Telegraph, but be aware – both Bodean’s and Red’s scored higher…..

They have two locations at the time of writing; one on Free School Lane and another on Station Road, there’s not much difference between them to be honest.

So, let’s quickly cover off everything that is not food:

  • Best to book in advance, although they do reserve some tables for walk ins
  • They have a brilliant system where you turn a dial/valve to summon a server which also lights up a display to show you’re ready for some meat….
  • The decor is cool and in keeping with the tone
  • The staff are generally (unsurprisingly) students attentive and pretty knowledgeable but depending on when you go (change of term) you can get newbies rather than seasoned pros…
  • They do takeaway as well as eat in and are happy to pack up any leftovers (worth knowing if you are taking the munchkins)

OK, onto the food…

It’s good.  As always in this kind of restaurant, there’s never a choice that covers everything I want to eat, but I’m a pain in the rump of a customer.   I can’t tell you what you’re going to like, but I’ve done all the POWERHOUSE PLATES and most of the Major sides, and they are all pretty good.   The thing is, if you’re a regular on this blog and you are reading this, you can probably make something yourself much closer to your taste. This stuff all hits the “safe zone” for the masses: It’s good quality and very tasty, but it’s nothing you (regardless of your ability) couldn’t do with a little practice and a couple of good recipes.  Let’s be fair though, we’re talking very good BBQ food, outside of London, whenever you want it, with no set-up, smoking (or washing up), for a fair price – so what’s not to love and be grateful for?

Couple of thoughts:

  • You should try “The Works” at least once, but you need two of you to sign up to this
  • If you do step up from “Ribs and Wings” to “The Works” all you’re really getting is some pulled pork and sausage, for the trouble of convincing your companion this is what they want.  In groups this is less of an issue, so if it’s just two of you, pick “Ribs and Wings” and you can upgrade your fries to “Naughty” or “Pitmaster” to satiate your pulled pork craving (at the time of writing – I did it. )
  • The “Chilli Cheese Fries” are my favourite, but the “Pit Boss” option is also awesome
  • I loved all the sides, although I admit to not trying the salad…

It’s certainly a great place to go, and I’ll be back again, but those of us in the know secretly know that we could do better at home….. 😉

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