332 N Milwaukee St ( )
Neighborhoods: Historic Third Ward
332 N Milwaukee St ( )
Neighborhoods: Historic Third Ward
March 25, 20134.0
A group of 7 of us went to the smoke shack on a Friday night. After our entire party arrived, we were seated immediately. It’s a cozy shack, with seating for about 50 people or so. I liked the feel of the place. We placed our orders and were told that the ribs were just coming out of the smokers so we were just in time. I ordered the 2 meat combo meal, and my choice was the pulled pork and the brisket. You also could pick a side, so I ordered the mac & cheese. The meat came out with no sauce, however, at the table there were bottles of sauce for you to add to your liking. The sauce options that they had were Kansas City, Texas BBQ, House BBQ, Carolina Gold and a Habanero sauce. I really liked that they did this, as sometimes there tends to be too much sauce. I really liked the House sauce, and the Carolina sauce, which was more of a mustard based sauce, and was also really good. I was able to sample the pulled chicken, and the Berkshire sausage. The sausage was really good. It had a great flavor and a bit of a kick to it. I also tried the greens which I wish I had gotten instead of the mac and cheese. Not that the mac and cheese was bad, I just liked the greens better. I didn’t think there was anything really special about the pulled chicken or pork, but I really loved the brisket. I split a bacon bourbon brownie for desert, but it wasn’t something I’d have to rush out and have again. Seemed a bit dry, and really not what I was expecting. Overall, I loved the look and feel of the place, service was great, and I would go back again.
March 22, 20134.0
This was a place I was always curious to try. I finally got the chance this evening with my girlfriend and her family. It is a small place in the 3rd Ward and when they say “shack” they mean that. It is meant to look that way, like an old time smoke house which gives the establishment a nice feel. The service was prompt and we were seated immediately even though we had seven in our party. We ordered our drinks and they came even before we could decide on dinner. For dinner I ordered the two meat combo and selected the Pulled Chicken and the Berkshire Sausage with a side of Sweet and Spicy beans. The food came quicker than expected which was nice. I thought the chicken had no special flavor to it and I did not like the beans at all so I dressed them up with there house sauce. They have three sauces at every table, Texas, Carolina, Kansas City and there house blend. My favorite was the house and the Carolina which is a mustard and vinegar blend. Very tangy. The Berkshire Sausage was amazing! Great flavor and spice! Loved it! My girlfriend and I shared the brownie dessert and I could have pasted on it. Nothing special. I would definately go back though for more of the sausages!
July 1, 20143.0
I typically go out for lunch once, maybe twice in a two week span. But the great deals of Downtown Dining, and friends and colleagues that want to try new places are difficult to say no to.
The latest being Smoke Shack; which was chosen by friends that had never been, and since it’s been a while for me, it sounded like a good plan.
They had the standard DD menu which offered two choices for each of three courses. But this is the first restaurant i’ve been to that offered their dinner menu at lunch, which was a great choice. The dinner menu had a cocktail course and my friends that didn’t have to work after lunch found that rewarding.
I ordered from the lunch menu and opted for Cornmeal Fried Okra, the Smoke Shack Salad, and the Carolina Pulled Pork sandwich.
My favorite course was the Smoke Shack salad, pictured below. Usually when I order a salad in a restaurant there’s five times more greens than anything else. But Smoke Shack has a handle on that. First the bowl the salad was served in was almost as high as it was wide and deep, resembling a square. Second, the salad had so many toppings that they were bound to outnumber the romaine base. There was a trace of house smoked Berkshire bacon crumbles, fresh roma tomatoes, plenty of pulled smoked chicken, a few ribbons of cucumber,a half of a hard boiled egg and some blue cheese sprinkles. That’s a lot for that little bowl. And the dressing was a house made honey mustard that was fantastic. It really brought all the flavors in the entire salad together.
The cornmeal fried okra was good, but not exactly what I expected. I know cornmeal is typically ground very fine but I thought the coating on the okra would be more like a breading, but it instead resembled a batter. And because the texture of okra is not smooth, the batter formed a tube/cone shape that didn’t really coat the okra, it was just a vessel to serve it in. I really didn’t mind because I could pull out the okra (which had great seasoning and flavor) and not have to eat all that excess batter, but it was interesting nonetheless.
I wanted to like the pulled pork sandwich more than I did. There was a sizable amount of meat, but the bun was huge. I understand this could be intentional because when you cover the pork with sauce something needs to hold the sandwich together, but it was just a really, really big bun.
I understand that you choose your the sauce flavored to your liking add the amount that suits you. But the pork still tasted dry to me, no matter how much sauce I added (and I’m not a fan of super wet bbq). I’m sure there are as many answers to this as there are fish in the sea, so I’m just pointing out my challenges. In the end I ate about half the meat and none of the bun. But my take home portion that sat in sauce in the fridge all afternoon made for a tasty dinner.
The aforementioned sauces are key to the bbq here and are worthy to note. They include:
Kansas City – a sweet (but not overly sweet) sauce on the front, with a light and smokey finish. I liked this one best.
Texas BBQ – a tomato based that was completely overpowered by Tabasco-esque flavors.
Carolina Gold – A deep mustard based with a well balanced vinegar tang at the end of your tongue.
Kick 24 Habanero – Sorry, when I see habanero I become strictly a spectator.
House BBQ- The menu says “not too much of one thing and just enough of the others”. And I would agree. You can taste tomato, tabasco, chipotle, salt, vinegar but none of them overwhelms the other. All ingredients play very nice together in this sauce that’s ideal if you can’t choose between the others.
And worth noting is the stellar service. During things like Downtown Dining places are busier than usual, and I hesitate to judge the service less I am too harsh. But Smoke Shack was well staffed with experienced servers. Ours was friendly and efficient and did a great job a pacing things.
All said, I would definitely go back, and consider another star, preferably when the weather allows for dining on their wonderful patio or deck.
June 11, 20145.0
Smoke Shack is a great place for a quick lunch with friends. We were seated immediately, had great service and really enjoyed the ambiance of this cozy spot in the Third Ward. Our group of six had the Lunch Special (except me) for Milwaukee Downtown Dining Week. Portions were ample and the food arrived quickly. Way to go, Smoke Shack!
The Pulled Chicken Sandwich was excellent. Our group tried a number of the sauces from House to California Gold; each made the sandwich taste a bit different. The sweet potato fries were a huge hit in my book.
February 9, 20135.0
Intimate (cozy) gem in Milwaukee’s 3rd Ward. Used to be a crazy dive bar hold out from when 3rd ward was all blue collar workers. Times have changed and the place got reinvented.
Now it is a custom themed restaurant with a southern rustic early 1900s mineshaft feel designed by Flux Design. Really feels like you have stepped into a different world.
Cozy joint with booths, bar, and communal tables (take the communal tables – they are fun!)
The story is the wife of the owner is vegetarian, so there are definitely vegetarian options on the menue and the meat is Certified humanely raised. All the meats are “dry rubbed, slow smoked and sauced by you.”
Don’t miss slaw – simple red cabbage slaw with a hint of smokey.
Whether or not you are vegetarian or vegan, the BBQ Seitan Sammich is killer awesome and inspiring.
Oh Momma!! That’s some damn good BBQ! I’d forgotten what good BBQ was like. And you’re telling me that there is no meat in that sammich? get off, really?
Truly a work of genius. When they cook the seitan with the house BBQ sauce all the spice flavors come front and center. Ooooeee that’s some spicy sauce (not too hot but does have a kick). And you know what cools it down and adds a special peppery note to it all is a topping of arugula. Who puts arugula on BBQ – they do! And now, I do! AMAZING.
YOU HAVE GOT TO TRY THIS
March 24, 20124.0
Located right next to Coquette, I was advised that this place was “small” but that word doesn’t quite describe it. I knew the address so I just parked and then stood on the sidewalk staring until I figured it might actually be inside the building that houses The Cupcake Company, Speedy Print and Coquette. Wrong. As I was crossing the street, I noticed this tiny shack cowering in the shadows between two hulking commercial buildings. I thought, “No way… that’s not even the size of a two-car garage.” Well… welcome to the Smoke Shack!
Very creative… the components are good (bacon and sweet potato fries) but it has room for improvement. My complaint I guess is with the ratio and portion size. Maybe less fries, more bacon?
Ugh. But in this poor brownie’s defense, the manager tried it after we complained and did say it was definitely off. Hands down their best selling dessert, he gave us coupons to come back and try it again.
Dry rubbed with choice of 5 sauces on the table. Not impressed.
These dishes from the Smoke Shack menu are contributed by Menuism users directly, as part of a restaurant review, or as part of an image upload.