First, a few words of remembrance for Tavern Road. The Fort Point bar and eatery was a popular destination with a top-notch beverage program. I had a good time and a great drink every time I went there – no exceptions – and was saddened to learn of its closing earlier this year. I’ll always recall it fondly, as will its many loyal patrons.
That said, I can hardly complain about the new tenant. It was just over a year ago that I first visited the Smoke Shop in Kendall Square. Last week the upscale barbecue joint opened a new location in the space once occupied by Tavern Road, and they’re not done expanding – a third Smoke Shop is planned for Somerville’s Assembly Row next spring.
The demand is certainly there. Open barely longer than a week, the new Seaport location was crowded by 5:15 on a Thursday night and packed by 6 p.m.
Andy Husbands’ barbecue is the main event, of course. The award-winning pitmaster smokes up a blend of Texas, Kansas City, and Memphis-style dishes, highlighted by absurdly tender brisket and burnt ends.
Wings are available in two varieties: “best bar wings” and “best hot wings,” both of which live up to their confident monikers. The bar wings strike the perfect balance of sweetness and spice, while the hot wings have a serious kick.
And the cornbread is still the best I’ve ever had, with its wonderfully crunchy top.
Beverage director Jordan McCusker presides over an enviable whiskey selection and an excellent cocktail program. The drink list is different than the one in Kendall, giving the new space its own distinct character.
The Sazerac stays close to the traditional recipe but trades rye for bourbon. Made with Templeton 4-year bourbon, absinthe, Peychaud’s, Angostura, and sugar, it’s a bracing drink with a touch of sweetness.
Better Luck Tomorrow combines Exotico tequila, mint syrup, lime juice, and ginger beer in a sexy-looking drink with fresh and spicy flavors.
For me, the standout of my first visit was Blood from a Stone. Made with Medley Bros. bourbon, raisin syrup, lemon, and sweet vermouth, it’s a rich cocktail with an earthy sweetness that goes down smoothly.
And as you may know, one of the Smoke Shop’s new neighbors is Trillium Brewing. Melcher Street IPA is available on draft, but it goes quickly. Our waitress said they’d already gone through six kegs.
And they’d only been open seven days.
Address: 343 Congress Street, Boston
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