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RI Archives: Food

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Smoked: Downhome Cookin’ with an Uptown Twist

Rural Intelligence Food by Jacque Lynn Schiller

Food labeled “southern comfort” often leaves the diner seeking consolation in the medicine cabinet—deep-fried and swimming-in-sauce does a number, even if it is finger lickin’ good. So when the brightly painted but unfussy hideaway just off Kent’s green arrived on the scene, we were both curious and a bit skeptical. With the promise of American regional fare and the scent of its namesake in the air, we expected, well, the expected.

We were pleasantly surprised to find a touch of the urbane on our plates of homegrown fare at Andrew Hayes and Elizabeth Owen’s hotspot, Smoked.

Rural Intelligence FoodThe couple, who, we later learned, met in the kitchen at Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern in New York, both grew up working on their grandparents’ farms—Andrew growing blueberries outside Jackson, TN and Beth in Sherman and Pawling, where she cultivated the garden and “put by” pickles and jams.  When they got in a family way, they decided to take the rural route and open a place of their own in a pastoral area brimful with aggie bounty.

“We are not a traditional roadside BBQ joint,” says Andrew.  “We both come from a fine-dining background, but have always had a love for BBQ and Southern food.  The concept at Smoked is to serve delicious food (as local as possible) in a refined but casual environment.”

And they’ve pulled it off.  The BBQ process at Smoked starts with whole pigs, courtesy of Mike Meiller in Pine Plains, butchered in-house—handy, since every piece of that animal ends up somewhere on the menu.  “We use the shoulders for our pulled pork sandwich, which is seasoned with our dry rub and slow smoked for 12-14 hours until it’s falling apart,” Andrew says. “Then we finish it with a Carolina sauce that contains cider vinegar, mustard, and brown sugar.”

Rural Intelligence FoodThere’s also belly of the oinker, left, glazed in a sweet mustard sauce and served with local vegetables from Marble Valley Farm.  Deviled eggs?  Check.  But the bacon crumbles have been replaced by a crispy sliver of guanciale (cured pork jowl, bottom picture). Small twists such as this abound on the brief but enticing menu. Fried green tomatoes show up on both a trout BLT (above) and Beth’s burger, which is also topped with homemade pimento cheese. There is rub on the ribs—and on the fries, which are served with green goddess dip rather than the red stuff. Andrew puts his own (apparently, very popular) spin on classic shrimp and grits, adding sea urchin, lobster and basil.

“We love seasonal food. We live for tomatoes and corn in the summer; pumpkins, apples, and pears in the fall,” he says.

That’s even evident in Beth’s pastry creations. We appreciated the savory rosemary hit in her olive oil cake; likewise, the fruit at their peak in a simple but sumptuous shortcake.

When asked what he’d like diners to take away from their experience at Smoked, Andrew said with a laugh, “Hopefully, they leave happy and full.”

Rural Intelligence Food Done and done.

Smoked
1 Landmark Lane
Kent
860.927.7141

Wednesday, 5 -  9 p.m.
Thursday, noon - 3 p.m. & 5 -  9 p.m.
Friday, noon -  3 p.m. & 5 - 10 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. & 5 - 10 p.m.
Sunday brunch: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.; lunch & dinner, noon - 9 p.m.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 07/26/11 at 06:47 AM • Permalink