2014-06-11 / Restaurant of the Week

The Strand Smokehouse

Get your BBQ on at The Strand Smokehouse on Broadway in Astoria. The Strand was established in 2012 and offers a unique dining experience for meat lovers, and aficionados of fine barrel bourbon, and craft beers.

This self-service restaurant is the brainchild of Tommy Vasilis who wanted to offer a casual dining experience for friends and families, featuring high quality meats, poultry, and homemade sides. The expansive dining room is filled with massive, communal tables that allow for large groups to ‘pig out’ together or to mix and mingle with neighbors. The outdoor garden is a lovely, cool spot for enjoying an ice cold beer and friendly conversation. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, there’s live blues music, while the daytime offers live Bluegrass music to go along with the down home, country feeling of The Strand.

The smoker runs 24/7, filled with top quality meats and chicken and daily surprises to delight your palate. The chalkboard menu lists pulled pork, brisket, short ribs, baby back ribs, a quarter chicken, and a treat called “burnt ends”. The amiable Chef Scott Campbell explained how the meats are rubbed with a special, house recipe dry rub for 48 hours until they hit the cooker. After many hours, the meat is so tender and succulent, it simply falls off the bone. The short ribs of beef spend an unbelievable 16 hours in the smoker and are anything but ‘short.’ These massive, Fred Flintstone-sized short ribs will tip over your table if you’re not careful. You’ve never tasted smoked salmon like this either, flaky and richly flavored from the wood smoke. The Strand makes six varieties of homemade barbecue sauce to complement the flavors of the meats: St. Louis BBQ, blueberry chipotle, BQE sauce, hot sauce, North Carolina vinegar, and Texas style. Soak up all those juices and sauces with warm homemade cornbread.

Here’s how it works. Head up to the kitchen and order your favorite meats or chicken, charged by the pound, so you can get as much as you want and share with friends. The chefs will heap it onto a big tray then you choose your sides, your beverage, beer, wine, or cocktail, and even dessert. Now you choose your own table either inside or outside on the Broadway terrace. Everyone appreciates the super casual atmosphere where you can stroll in wearing shorts a T-shirt and flip flops. Kids and families are welcome and The Strand is the perfect venue for a no-fuss birthday celebration amongst friends.

For all the meat on offer at The Strand, there is a good balance of vegetarian and even vegan side dishes. Chef Scott brought us a sampling of all of the side dishes, each one unique, freshly made, and completely meat free. The kale is sautéed and the cole slaw is crunchy and light, made with very little mayo. The black bean salad is nicely seasoned and the corn and tomato salsa is dressed in lime and cilantro. The vegetarian chili has a touch of cocoa and mild spices for enhanced flavor and the Mac and cheese is outrageously good and not too heavy. In fact, a couple of these side dishes could be a complete meal for someone who doesn’t eat meat but wants to dine out with their carnivorous friends. The homemade pickles are a cross between half sours and sweet bread and butter pickles and I simply could not stop eating them. My carnivorous companion and I sampled a little bit of everything including meltin your-mouth baby back ribs, the over-sized, luscious short rib, and the brisket that is easily the house favorite. Even the chicken (as big a pterodactyl) was the best I’ve ever had…meaty and juicy, full of smoky, barbecue flavor that tasted great with blueberry chipotle sauce. If you can’t finish everything (and you probably won’t), the friendly bus staff will bring you a take-out tray for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.

Complement your meal with one of their inventive cocktails such as a variety of

“Moontails” made with real moonshine, cocktails made with fine spirits, and bourbon poured straight from the barrels behind the bar. A long list of craft beers, many made locally, is available by the pint or pitcher, with their alcohol content listed on the chalkboard menu.

Share a dazzling dessert here with pretty pecan tartlets, berry tartlets, lemon meringue, and a chocolate mousse bombe. My favorite southern dessert is bread pudding and The Strand’s version is soft and not too sweet. The coffee is rich and robust, served in a French press.

The Strand Smokehouse is a place meant for sharing, enjoying, relaxing. Share the meats, the sides, share a table, and enjoy the live music on the weekends.

Cool off in the lovely back patio or dine on the tables out front. Come as you are and enjoy excellent smokehouse barbecue, fine bourbon, beer, and cocktails at

The Strand Smokehouse.

25-27 Broadway  Astoria
718.440.3231

www.thestrandsmokehouse.com

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