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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Smoqehouse adds new flavor to Northfield dining scene

<ugh Northfield admittedly has its charms—cows, colleges, and contentment among them—to the average diner, the Midwestern small-town can fall a bit flat. Though the favorite spots are loved for good reason, it seems that they all seem to have a tangible drawback. Blue Mondays, for example, only takes cash. Tandem Bagels serves delicious bagels that are always a little too small. Chapati’s service when packed is often unreliable. Midwestern service as a whole seems to take a toll from the viewpoint of the East or West Coaster, moreover; earlier this year I stood in a short line for 45 minutes at the closest Chipotle in Apple Valley, MN, watching as the workers attempted to fill orders in an at-best disorganized workplace and at-worst catastrophe, which might reflect more on my own ridiculous need for guacamole.

It may seem a tad cruel, then, to call the best quality of Smoqehouse its lack of shortcomings. But considering its surroundings, Smoqehouse, the new barbecue restaurant on Main Street, stands out quietly from the pack. Look around carefully, and don’t discount the comfortable, trendy but modest decor as you do; it is not only that nothing’s wrong, or off, or even a little annoying. Everything seems to be in place, and moreover, the food is delicious. No downsides.

Smoqehouse opened in the Faribault mall by bartender Andy Kubes; the Northfield location is the second iteration of the original Smoqehouse, which is soon to be followed by a location in Anna Maria Island, Florida. The Northfield location has, to use a more casual phrase, completely blown up. Some friends and I went there last Saturday for what we thought would be a quick and yummy dinner; to be sure, it  was truly delicious, but the line extended out into the inn lobby, and extended our “quick dinner” to a full-blown affair. I had planned on getting a quote from their friendly staff for this very article, but the kitchen was simply too busy fulfilling the many orders of the hungry crowd. The staff was valiant, helpful and, to their credit, as quick as possible—simply too many people wanted food.

If you can sneak into the Smoqehouse when it’s quiet, you’ll understand why. It has something for pretty much everyone, which is a pretty solid accomplishment when a restaurant tries to appease every member of the masses. To illustrate—I imagined that a barbecue place in small-town Minnesota would probably alienate some member of the community, a vegetarian,  most likely. I went with a vegetarian friend, Ellie Maltby ‘20, who planned on eating sides, as many vegetarians do at restaurants. She was pleasantly surprised to find that Smoqehouse had a veggie sandwich, which she describes as “light and delicious, full of different vegetables,” and suited the needs of a vegetarian at a primarily meat-based restaurant. My brisket burger, as well, was probably the best sandwich I’ve had since I’ve been in Northfield, and the poutine, though too heavy to eat all on my own, was a big hit passed around family style. The meals are also cheap, which, as a broke college student, I cannot complain about in any sense.

It may be trite to call Smoqehouse a breath of fresh air, and perhaps a bit harsh too, considering that Northfield hosts a diverse collection of restaurants for its size, especially when compared to my own  small-town’s dining establishments, which consist of the local 7-Eleven and one truly terrible pizza place. But I’m honestly quite pleased with Smoqehouse, and I will certainly be returning. If you’re looking for a very satisfying meal on a budget, you should think about going, too; you just didn’t hear it from me.

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